The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You
13 Sep

The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes

While it may sound strange, for me, slipping on a work shoe feels like a Monday morning—full of potential, excitement, and filled to the brim with boss energy. For some, this feeling is elicited with a sexy pump that clacks and clacks; for others, a happy-go-lucky flat or classic mule does the trick. No matter what size or shape you prefer, the Good On You team recognizes that most work-place appropriate shoes are leather-based, making it pretty tough to find sustainable work shoes that align with your values. That’s where we come in.

We’re happy to report that vegan leather options abound! In line with this ethos, below you can find a plethora of vegan or vintage options, including elegant black flats by NOAH (Germany), lovely vegan loafers by Good Guys (UK), and for a more casual option, The Nude Label (Spain) has got you covered with contemporary, chunky vegan leather and wood sandals. And for those who prefer animal leather, there are some chrome-free and deadstock leather options, too, like Christy Dawn’s (US) Chelsea boots. With that, happy browsing!

Business as usual

NAE

Rated: Good
Sustainable block heel by NAE

JACQUE VEGAN LEATHER – Ships internationally from Portugal

Meet Jaque, the perfect pointed toe, mid-heel slingback work shoe made with vegan leather. These feminine shoes are lined with OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 certified microfibre manufactured in a system free of carbon emissions. NAE is a Portuguese footwear, bags, and accessories brand using innovative materials to create goods with “No Animal Exploitation”. Find most of the shoes in sizes 36 to 46.

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Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Staiy.

Will’s Vegan Store

Rated: Good
Will's Vegan Store Ethical Work Heels

Point Flats in Pink Vegan Suede – Ships internationally from the UK

Timeless and classy, these pink, vegan pointed block heels are sure to impress! The shoe is lined with two types of super soft vegan suede, creating not only a lovely place to nestle your foot but allowing air to circulate, helping it stay cool throughout the day. Will’s Vegan Store produces animal and human friendly women’s and men’s footwear and accessories at affordable prices. Find the women’s shoes in US sizes 5-10, and men’s in 7.5-14. Love!

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Shop Will’s Vegan Store.

NOAH

Rated: Good
NOAH ethical black flats

Stefania Elegant Black Flats – Ships internationally from Germany

The quintessential black flat, except this time it’s vegan and sustainable! These elegant flats come in a variety of colours and are gorgeously crafted from vegan microsuede and feature a pointed toe. NOAH creates cruelty-free and 100% vegan shoes and accessories. This German brand’s high-quality and long-lasting shoes are hand-crafted in Italy, using a small proportion of eco-friendly material. Find them in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop NOAH.

Shop NOAH @ Immaculate Vegan.

Nisolo

Rated: Good
Nisolo ethical mules

Mariella Mule – Ships internationally from the US

It goes without saying that mules take the cake in terms of comfort, sophistication, and professionalism. With a small heel, Nisolo’s Mariella is the brand’s most versatile mule. Designed to mold to your foot, you will find yourself reaching for her every chance you get. Nisolo is an American brand that prioritizes living wages throughout its supply chains while also working to combat climate change. Vegan fashion lovers note, this one is made from animal leather! Find the collection in US sizes 6-10.

See the rating.

Shop Nisolo @ ourCommonplace.

Shop Nisolo @ Made Trade.

Shop Nisolo.

Good Guys

Rated: Good

Jane Vegan Leather Loafers in White – Ships internationally from the UK

Offers

black and white eco-friendly boots by Good Guys Don't Wear Leather

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather – Boots

These cruelty-free, durable, and gender-less boots are the result of materials research and artisanal savoir-faire. Exclusive 20% off "Made in Italy" boots with code GOODFOR20. (Ends: 23 OCT)

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black and white sustainable Oxford shoes by Good Guys Don't Wear Leather

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather – Oxford Shoes

Vegan, unisex oxford shoes, sustainably made in Italy with premium artisanal techniques. Exclusive 20% off "Made in Italy" oxford shoes with code GOODFOR20. (Ends: 23 OCT)

Checkout code: GOODFOR20
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I can’t believe it’s not real leather! Another spin on a classic work shoe, the Jane loafer is made in England with premium quality, eco-friendly vegan leather and breathable microfibre lining. Good Guys creates cruelty-free shoes for women and men, founded and designed by Marion Hanania in Paris. Find most shoes in EU sizes 36-42.

See the rating.

Shop Good Guys.

Shop Good Guys @ Immaculate Vegan.

Shop Good Guys @ thegreenlabels.

Bhava

Rated: Good
Ethical pumps by BHAVA

Blair Classic Pump – Ships internationally from the US

While wearing heels all day isn’t necessarily ideal, at least it can be done ethically and with comfort in mind. This classic pump by BHAVA is doing just that, featuring a gorgeous all natural cork insole as well as state of the art shock-absorbent soles. These lovelies are manufactured in Alicante, Spain, where shoes are still being handmade by generations of artisans. BHAVA uses some environmentally friendly materials, such as organic cotton and recycled materials. It also does not use aromatic amines, PCP, formaldehyde, PVC, phthalates, azo-dyes, or chrome when creating its vegan leather. Find the collection in US sizes 5-11.

See the rating.

Shop Bhava.

Jimmy Choo (Pre-Owned)

Rated: Not Good Enough
Woman in vintage Jimmy Choo pumps

Romy Leather Heels – Ships internationally from the US

These pumps are sure to turn heads. While Jimmy Choo isn’t doing enough for animals, people, or the environment, we do recommend giving a second-life to an old pump by purchasing vintage. The Romy Leather Heels are an absolute classic, featuring an elegant pointed toe and genuine leather. Find the heels in EU size 35.

See the rating.

Shop vintage shoes at Vestiaire Collective.

Cool and casual

The Nude Label

Rated: Good
Ethical chunky block heels by The Nude Label

The Wood Sandal – Ships internationally from Spain

For those of you working folks with a little bit more leeway when it comes to dressing for work, these gorgeous, open-toed block sandals are a must-have! Made from vegan leather and responsibly sourced wood to create the lowest possible footprint, the brand’s lightweight wood platform and ergonomic shape ensure that comfort always comes first. All the pieces are made in a family-run factory in Valencia, Spain. The closeness to the studio allows the Nude Label to have a bigger control over the process and ensure good working practices. Most sandals come in sizes 36-42.

See the rating.

Shop The Nude Label.

Christy Dawn

Rated: Great
Woman in ethical boots by Christy Dawn

The Chelsea Boot in Hazelnut Leather – Ships internationally from the US

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, fall footwear is finally near! Christy Dawn’s Chelsea Boot is the perfect pairing for any chilly workday. Crafted from supple dead stock leather, the boot features elasticated siding for easy slip-on and a feminine, softly rounded toe. Each pair is unique with slight variations in grain, texture, and hue! The US brand rates ‘Great’, making it a fabulous boho option for your wardrobe. Find the shoes in sizes 5-11.

See the rating.

Shop Christy Dawn.

Coclico @ Made Trade

Rated: Good
Ethical work mules by Coclico

Court Sandal – Ships internationally from the US

Clean lines and a neutral palette are standard for American brand Coclico. These simple, perfectly formed soft, stretch leather slides with a circular wood heel are ideal for all-day wear. Each pair is handcrafted in Mallorca, Spain, using leather from tanneries with rigorous standards of beauty and sustainability. The brand seeks high standards of ethical and environmental responsibility, and the result is a union of modern minimalism and traditional quality. Find most of the brand’s footwear in EU sizes 35-41.

See the rating.

Shop Coclico @ Made Trade.

Shop Coclico @ ourCommonPlace.

Veja

Rated: Good
Ethical sneakers by Veja

V-12 Leather in White – Ships internationally from France

If you’re able to wear sneakers at work, we recommend Vejas! Veja is a French brand designing ecological and fair trade footwear, and is also a sustainable fashion pioneer. The brand uses eco-friendly materials, like GOTS certified cotton and vegetable-tanned leather! By not advertising, Veja is able to invest more money into strengthening its ethical practices. You can find Veja shoes in women’s EU sizes 35-46, and men’s 35-47.

See the rating.

Shop Veja.

Shop Veja @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Veja @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Veja @ Outerknown.

Shop Veja @ Threads 4 Thought.

Shop Veja @ Labell-D.

Shop Veja Kids second hand @ Retykle.

KAYU

Rated: Good
Ethical sandals by KAYU

Santorini Vegetable Tanned Leather Sandal – Ships internationally from the US

There’s nothing better than being able to slip on a pair of stunning sandals for a day in the office. Handmade in Greece and composed of 100% natural, chemical-free leather, KAYU is going above and beyond to ensure durability and sustainability. What’s more, the brand is committed to using natural materials such as straw, wood, and shells. It also partners with local artisans in the Philippines to produce its products. Find the collection in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop KAYU.

Shop KAYU Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Well, that’s it! We hope this guide provided some guidance on how to nail your ideal professional look without needing to sacrifice your morals or boss energy in the process!

Editor's note

Feature image via Nisolo, 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. We love to recommend some of the best sustainable brands, rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’. We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Use our Directory to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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