10 Jun

5 Sustainable Alternatives to Vans

Even if you’re not a skater, you’ve probably heard of Vans. The brand is iconic, worn by millions of fans worldwide. Sadly, Vans rates “It’s a Start” due to its lack of transparency and practices to protect people, the planet, and animals. Luckily, we’ve found 5 “Good” and “Great” brands creating more sustainable alternatives to Vans.

Vans is making a start, but it’s not enough

With over half a century of production under its belt, one would think Vans has had time to figure out how to reduce its impact on people, the planet, and animals.

Sadly, this isn’t the case. Vans has made little progress for the planet: the brand’s use of a few eco-friendly materials and setting up an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are the only bright spots. Vans doesn’t appear to minimise textile waste or packaging, and there is no evidence it is on track to meet its greenhouse gas target.

Despite being somewhat transparent (it received a score of 51-60% in the Fashion Transparency Index), Vans lacks some crucial policies to protect its workers. None of its supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages, or other labour rights.

Vans is doing slightly better for animal welfare. The brand has an animal welfare policy in place, and it doesn’t use fur, angora, or other exotic animal skin or hair. That said, Vans still uses leather, down (accredited by the Responsible Down Standard), and wool from non-mulesed sheep.

We rate Vans “It’s a Start” overall, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. The brand needs to strengthen its environmental practices, report on its progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and use more environmentally friendly and less animal-derived materials. It also needs to improve its labour conditions by implementing worker empowerment initiatives and, more importantly, making sure workers are paid a decent living wage.

We’ve got you covered if you like the Vans look but want to rebel against its less than sustainable and ethical practices. Below you’ll find five amazing, more sustainable alternatives to Vans.

Sustainable alternatives to Vans

CARIUMA

Rated: Good

CARIUMA is a sustainable Brazilian sneaker brand that wants you to feel super comfortable while providing effortless style in organic canvas, leather, and suede styles. Find CARIUMA's shoes in US sizes 5-13.

See the rating.

Shop CARIUMA.

Etiko

Rated: Great

Etiko is an Australian designer of organic, eco-friendly, and fair trade clothing and shoes. The brand constantly sets the bar for upholding and campaigning the human rights of people working in traditionally exploitative industry supply chains. Find the clothes in AU sizes 8-20, and the shoes in UK sizes 3-13.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

NAE

Rated: Good

NAE is a Portuguese footwear, bags, and accessories brand using innovative materials to create goods with “No Animal Exploitation”. Its sustainable materials include recycled PET from bottles, OEKO-TEX® certified microfibres, recycled car tyres, natural cork, recycled thermoplastic, and even pineapple leaf fibre. Find most of the shoes in sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Staiy.

Shop NAE @ Urbankissed.

Ethletic

Rated: Good

Ethletic make fair trade casual shoes and sneakers from organic cotton and natural rubber.

See the rating.

Shop Ethletic.

LOCI

Rated: Good

LOCI is a UK-based footwear brand that offers vegan shoes and is committed to creating sustainable luxury. EU sizes 36-47 are available.

See the rating.

Shop LOCI.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

Ethical brand ratings. There’s an app for that.

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.