If you’re tired of wandering through the maze of fast fashion, feeling guilty about the environmental and social impact of your footwear choices, you’re not alone.
Many eco-conscious consumers are aware of the detrimental effect that fast fashion has on the environment.
They’re stomping their feet in demand of ethically made shoes, and it appears that the fashion industry is responding.
In fact, the sustainable footwear sector has been growing year-on-year, and is predicted to be valued at $11.98 billion by 2028.
When it comes to ethical shoes, men’s and women’s choices may be numerous, but that doesn’t mean the work is done. Plenty of cheap fair trade shoes will list tenuous eco-credentials, and it can be difficult to know which brands are worth your time and investment.
The Best Ethical Shoe Brands For Sustainable Style
Let’s start with a few favorites we can’t help but gush about.
Versatile and diverse, we can’t get enough of woman-owned ABLE’s wide range of shoe styles, all ethically made while supporting women workers in the process.
If you’re an urban explorer who wants to look good while saving the planet, VEJA’s recycled fair trade shoes. They’re steadily working on replacing LWG leather with less impactful materials, like recycled plastics and biobased foam.
Made from 100% felted wool, Baabuk’s shoes are unlike anything we’ve seen before. Crafted from ethically-raised sheep wool in Portugal, they’re not only stylish but also compostable.
We’ve compiled a list of even more brands, so if you want to know what shoes are made ethically, look no further.
Your wardrobe (and the planet) will thank you for it.
Our Curated List Of Sustainable & Ethical Shoe Brands Striding Toward Sustainability
Price Range | $45 – $158 | Shop ABLE’s Shoes
Materials | Sustainable denim, vegan leather, microsuede, TPR (a mixture of rubber and plastic), and semi-vegetable tanned leather that’s a byproduct of the meat industry.
What We Love | We admire ABLE for their dedication to sustainability and empowering women, investing in women at every stage of the supply chain. They partner with vendors who share their same mission and vision.
ABLE’s Ethical Shoes
While ABLE offers footwear ranging from boots to ethical dress shoes, the variety of fair trade athletic shoes are what really stand out to us, particularly the Cady Sneakers.
These stylish kicks feature a mixture of tweed and neutral-colored leather that looks like a casual shoe but has a distinctively sporty finish.
ABLE is a shining example of a company that not only produces high-quality, sustainable products but also genuinely cares about the people and the planet.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | All of ABLE’s denim initiatives are sourced via the western hemisphere to minimize the impact of shipping on the environment. Denim scraps are then donated to become housing insulation, and they use recycled packaging.
Supply Chain | ABLE was the first fashion brand to publicly disclose their lowest-paid wages, co-founding the Lowest Wage Challenge. Their mission to eradicate poverty in the fashion industry led them to prioritize transparency and accountability. Not stopping at fair wages. ABLE is open about their benefits, equality practices, efforts to combat child and forced labor, and workers’ rights. The product descriptions show where each ethical shoe is made.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | As a women-run company, they champion these values through their internal hiring process, model casting, and partnership strategy. ABLE fosters an intentional culture of empowerment, which is something we wholeheartedly support.
Pay It Forward | Every woman who works at ABLE earns a living wage, and has a flexible work schedule, full maternity coverage, and a ton of other benefits. We truly admire their dedication to creating a supportive and nurturing work environment for their employees.
Price Range | $105–$280 | Shop Nisolo’s Shoes
Materials | Responsibly sourced LWG-certified vegetable tanned leather from tanneries that use byproducts from the meat industry. They eschew oil-based synthetics, opting instead for eco-friendly materials that are durable and easy to care for.
What We Love | Nisolo shines with their use of traditional Peruvian shoe making skills, meaning that they aren’t just ethical shoes, but ethically made shoes. Nisolo is a Certified B Corp that pays its workers 100% fair wages.
Nisolo’s Ethically Made Shoes
Nisolo is more than one of the most ethical shoe brands for men and women.
They’re a movement.
And in addition to ethically made dress shoes, flats, sandals, oxfords, loafers, and boots, they carry all manner of other accessories, like handbags, briefcases, belts, wallets, and jewelry.
We’re particular fans of the Huarache Sandal, which we’ve tested out and fully adopted as our go-to summer sandal. They’re the perfect blend of dressy and casual, with comfortable soles capable of walking many miles.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | As a Climate Neutral Certified brand, they offset all their carbon emissions by partnering with Ecosphere+ to invest in forest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. Each product description shows its impact and they talk more about climate goals in their Sustainability Framework.
Supply Chain | Nisolo has something they call the ‘Nisolo Sustainability Framework’ that they proudly display on their website. It outlines the problems with the fashion industry and how they’re actively working to mitigate those issues. For instance, their jewelry is made by artisans in Kenya who upcycle waste metals. They also ensure the Five Freedoms of animal welfare are met within their supply chain.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion | They’ve got that covered too. Nisolo is committed to creating a safe, equitable work environment. They ensure that gender-based harassment, discrimination, and abuse are eradicated. All women, especially those who are pregnant or nursing, are given health and safety precautions. Women and men are paid equally and given the same opportunities for promotions. We’re thrilled to see women in leadership roles, representing at least 25% of management.
Pay It Forward | Nisolo founded The Lowest Wage Challenge with ABLE, a competitor, to encourage brands to strive toward paying their workers a living wage. Nisolo’s Sustainability Lead is an ambassador for Remake, a community advocating to change the fashion industry’s harmful practices.
3. Thousand Fell
Price Range | $125–$135 (+$20 recycling deposit) | Shop Thousand Fell’s Shoes
Materials | Recycled plastic bottles, and biobased sustainable materials like castor bean, coconut, sugarcane, and natural and recycled rubber.
What We Love | Every pair of Thousand Fell is recyclable and is backed by the brand’s own zero waste commitment to building a better future. Once you’re done with your Thousand Fell kicks (which might take a while because they’re pretty durable), you can send them back to the company to be recycled into new shoes or donated.
Thousand Fell’s Ethically Made Shoes
Out of Thousand Fell’s impressive collections, we’re head over heels for the Women’s Slip-on White.
We’ve tried them, and yes, they’re 100% as comfortable as they look, while still managing to be effortlessly stylish, and are made from sustainable materials derived from coconut and sugarcane.
And can we take a moment to appreciate that they’re also stain and odor resistant?
While we haven’t been brave enough to spill any grapefruit juice on them, we have tested their water repellent ability and are impressed with that.
If slip-ons aren’t your style, they also offer several flat-soled ethical tennis shoes, all of which mimic the look and feel of leather, while being totally vegan.
Thousand Fell’s Sustainability
Carbon Goals & Achievements | Through carbon and water offsets, they ensure they take out as much carbon from the air as they put in, and replenish the water they use. They also source their energy from as close to their factory as possible.
Supply Chain | Thousand Fell’s factory is a family-owned one in Brazil, which is also where they source most eco-friendly materials.
Pay It Forward | They’re a member of 1% For The Planet, funding projects and nonprofits that give back to the environment. Returned shoes that can’t be turned into something new are given to those in need in partnership with nonprofit Soles4Souls.
Price Range | $99–$159 | Shop Baabuk’s Shoes
Materials | 100% felted wool sourced from ethically-raised non-mulesed sheep and dyed with REACH-certified dyes.
What We Love | Have you ever heard of shoes made from 100% felted wool? Baabuk uses the material to create ethical athletic shoes and slippers, showcasing just how versatile wool can be. These shoes are naturally breathable and antibacterial, with water-repellent properties to boot (pun intended).
Baabuk’s Ethically Made Shoes
Baabuk offers sustainable, ethical shoes for all seasons, but we have to say we love their slippers the most. Most ethical shoe brands for women and for men overlook this type of footwear, but not Baabuk.
We love the Yves slippers in navy blue (but all the colors are fabulous). They’re comfy and cozy, featuring elastic ankle support and a soft inner sole made from natural wool and cotton. Perfect for keeping your toes toasty on chilly nights, or just for wearing casually around the house.
Inspired by the felted boots worn by Russians in Siberia, this Swiss brand established its own ethical workshop in Nepal. Not only do they look stylish and stand out, but they also offer pumps, and boots in their collection
Carbon Goals & Achievements | Baabuk sources all raw materials within a 200km radius of their workshop to reduce the carbon footprint of material transport. They’re also working towards implementing the United Nation Sustainable Development Goal 12, which targets sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Supply Chain | Baabuk’s Urban Wooler is made in Portugal, in a workshop that has been dubbed a “serial production museum.” Here, well-paid workers use machinery dating back to 1892 to craft the Urban Woolers with consistent quality and attention to detail. As for the wool itself, it’s sourced from 100% responsibly raised sheep from the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, Other products are made in Nepal, where they provide good working conditions, 25% higher salaries than the national average, and employ more women than men in their child labor-free workshop.
Pay It Forward | The Miss Baabuka project collaborates with the Swiss Foundation ProSpecieRara to protect six endangered breeds of sheep native to Switzerland.
Price Range | $105–$170 | Shop Allbirds’ Shoes
Materials | Uppers made of ZQ-certified merino wool, FSC-certified TENCEL™ lyocell, or Trino® (a combination of the two).
You’ll see laces from recycled water bottles, eyelets crafted from bio-based TPU, midsoles made from partial castor bean oil (though some EVA is still present), and SweetFoam® outsoles.
What We Love | One of the most innovative sustainable and ethical shoe brands out there, this San Francisco-based Certified B Corp is at the forefront of sustainable materials in their shoes, like the SweetFoam® outsoles, a material made from Brazilian sugarcane—the world’s first carbon-negative EVA!
Allbirds’ Ethical Shoes
Allbirds offers ethically made running shoes, slippers, flats, and casual sneakers for women and men.
They also sell ethical kid’s shoes (or “smallbirds“).
The Wool Runner Mizzles are definitely worth checking out if you’re on the hunt for ethical women’s shoes with athletic capabilities and the feel of a slipper. They’re water-resistant (or ‘rain-ready’) and feature a grippy sole for great traction.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | Allbirds just revealed the world’s first net zero carbon shoe: the M0.0NSHOT. This incredible achievement—0.0 kg CO₂e carbon footprint compared to a standard sneaker’s 14 kg CO2e—will be accomplished without relying on a single carbon offset. You’ll have to wait until 2024 to get your hands on these groundbreaking shoes, but we think they’re worth the wait.
Supply Chain | Allbirds require their Tier 1 suppliers to participate in independent, third-party social and environmental audits. No factory (which are WRAP-certified) can produce for Allbirds without passing a rigorous audit process. Suppliers are forbidden from subcontracting out. Allbirds have 100% of their Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers mapped and aim to reach 100% of all tiers by 2025.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion | Allbirds gives workers a voice by implementing worker surveys through Laborlink technology, covering topics like supervisor relationships, grievance mechanisms, working hours, and wages.
Pay It Forward | Returned ethical running shoes are donated through Soles4Souls and through a collaboration with fashion designer Rosie Assoulin, all sales from limited-edited Sugar Sliders went to The Ron Finley Project and Rodale Institute, both key players in the sustainable food system movement.
Price Range | $79–$139 | Shop Cariuma’s Shoes
Materials | GOTS-certified organic cotton,OEKO-TEX bamboo, sugarcane, cork, mamona oil, GRS-certified recycled nylon, GRS recycled PET, ethical LWG leather and suede, recycled (and recyclable) paper, natural rubber soles, and bluesign®-approved chemicals.
What We Love | Cariuma was born out of a shared love for board sports (think skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding), and a shared concern for the wasteful practices of fast fashion. That’s why these fair trade skate shoes feature only recycled or bio-based sustainable materials.
Cariuma’s Ethical Skate Shoes
If you’re shopping the brand’s full range of ethical shoes online, Cariuma’s NAIOCA grey canvas sneakers are bound to stand out.
They’re sleek, they’re stylish, and they’ve got bright pops of green on the back and the tongue that help to elevate the whole design—so much so that you’ll forget that these are actually ethical skate shoes.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | Cariuma has already planted over 2 million trees, and, in their words, “that’s just the beginning.” Cariuma collaborates with indigenous communities, following their guidance on how to best support regrowth, restoration, and biodiversity as part of their wider initiative to reduce their carbon footprint.
Supply Chain | As a Certified B Corp, Cariuma can trace their products from tier one through to tier three suppliers. The transparency is impressive, with 100% traceability into their footwear manufacturer, 85% traceability into their raw material processors, and 59% traceability into their yarns, polymers, and chips. Cariuma makes sure their factory workers earn a living wage (79% above the legal minimum wage) and have a healthy work-life balance. Their factories are WRAP-certified.
Pay It forward | They’re also committed to the UN’s “Decade on Restoration.” They’ve teamed up with The Trinational Atlantic Forest Pact as part of their ‘Plant 2 Trees’ initiative.
Price Range | $128–$192 | Shop VEJA’s Shoes
Materials | Plastic bottles, cotton recycled from textile industry cuttings, and recycled polyester are transformed into fabrics like B-Mesh, Hexamesh, and C.W.L vegan leather
What We Love | One of the reasons we adore VEJA is their openness about product cost. Their sneakers cost five times more to produce than big brand sneakers (so they’re not exactly cheap fair trade shoes).
VEJA’s Fair Trade Shoes
Why do we love VEJA? It’s because they use fair trade and organic raw sustainable materials, which are more economically equitable for everyone involved in the production chain
VEJA creates stylish ethical and fair trade tennis shoes for men, women, and kids.
While sneakers are their specialty, there’s no shortage of styles to choose from—high top, low rise, ethical running shoes, you name it!
The V-10 Gender Inclusive sneakers are light, neutral, and sporty while also being completely casual, so you can wear them with pretty much anything.
Made from eco-friendly materials like recycled plastic bottles, rubber, and rice waste, these shoes are light, breathable, and water-repellent.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | VEJA is fully transparent about their carbon emissions, and they even reveal which shoes emit more carbon during production. After assessing their own emissions, they decided to stop shipping by plane. Their recycling initiative collects old sneakers to be cleaned, repaired, or recycled in their shops in Paris, Bordeaux, and New York.
Supply Chain | Their whole supply chain is located in Brazil, HQ aside, where they require recurring social audits and chemical tests from their manufacturing plants to identify areas where they can improve.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion | VEJA entrusts logistics to vulnerable, disabled, and sometimes socially excluded individuals through the non-profit Atelier Sans Frontières.
Pay It Forward | By working directly with cotton producers in Brazil, they pay 50% of the harvest in advance to support these communities. This year, they’re paying almost 50% more than the market price.
Price Range | $125–$335 | Shop Sézane’s Shoes
Materials | Organic cotton, leather, recycled polyester, and wool.
What We Love | While there isn’t really such a thing as ethically made leather shoes, Sézane gets as close as possible thanks to their slow fashion footwear ideology: no intermediaries, flash sales, or overproduction of stock that could end up in landfill.
Sézane’s Ethically Made Women’s Shoes
If you’re in search of truly fashionable ethically made women’s shoes, Sézane’s collection of sandals, pumps, ballerina flats, clogs, espadrilles, loafers, sneakers, and boots will dazzle.
Get glitz and glam with the Alice Heel Pumps. This timeless pump design, complete with a chunky heel and embossed snakeskin-effect texture, is a total showstopper and is crafted from 100% vegetable-tanned leather from sheepskin.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | They calculate and audit their carbon emissions yearly and have managed to reduce the average carbon footprint of a Sézane garment by up to 20%.
Supply Chain | Sézane’s traceability is 100% for tier 1 partners, 95% for tier 2, and 55% for tier 3. They’re aiming to achieve 100% for tier 2 and 70% for tier 3. They’re a Certified B Corp, which showcases Sézane and its ateliers’ hard work and commitment to sustainability and fair practices across the supply chain. All their ateliers are audited by independent experts.
Pay It Forward | Sézane’s ‘solidarity program’ supports DEMAIN, an endowment fund to help children access education, culture, and equal opportunities.
9. The Root Collective
Price Range | $128–$298 | Shop The Root Collective’s Shoes
Materials | Ethically sourced LWG-certified leather, handwoven cotton, wood, and natural rubber.
What We Love | The Root Collective is all about small-batch and made-to-order production, which means they only make what’s needed. Overproduction? Time to give it the boot!
The Root Collective’s Ethical Shoe Range
Who says you can’t be stylish and eco-friendly at the same time?
Not us, and certainly not Root Collective’s range of sneakers, heels, sandals, and boots.
We have a soft spot for the Annie Flat in Noir, which has a way of blending seamlessly into any outfit, be it work chic, casual cool, or evening elegance, thanks to the noir leather and black nubuck combo.
The Root Collective’s Sustainability
Carbon Goals & Achievements | They’re working towards carbon neutrality, and offer customers a way to buy and sell pre-loved Root Collective items, cleverly called The Root Seller.
Supply Chain | The Root Collective partners with small, independent workshops in Guatemala City, Pastores, Antigua, and other small communities, believing that’s where the most positive changes happen.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion | They work closely with the cooperatives to ensure the women who make their shoes are paid fairly (50-400% above minimum wage)
Price Range | $138–$220 | Shop Thesus’ Shoes
Materials | Mostly recycled materials, such as repurposed marine plastic, natural and recycled rubber, and recycled synthetic wool.
What We Love | Commitment to good design with an emphasis on reducing waste is the foundation of any ethical footwear, but producing footwear made of 95% recycled materials is next level.
Thesus’ Ethically Made Shoes
Formerly Alice + Whittles, Thesus are definitely making strides in the sustainable footwear scene with their small but essential collection of clogs and hiking boots.
We’re head over heels for their Scarlet Weekend Boot. It’s bold, red, ready for long mileage, and guaranteed to make a statement wherever you go—what’s not to love?
The minimalist yet striking design is a visual treat.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | Thesus is aiming to be regenerative in all their activities, striving to be climate positive, though they don’t specify any details on how they plan to achieve this.
Supply Chain | Committed to keeping operations small, Thesus’ ethically-made shoes (men’s and women’s alike) come from a family-owned ethical factory in Portugal. Factory workers receive living wages, and they’re aiming to reach that standard for the whole supply chain.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion | The brand is a proud BIPOC woman-owned and led business. They’re committed to ensuring diversity in all ranks as they grow.
Pay It Forward | Thesus is the latest BIPOC-owned business to participate in Trampoline, a branding incubator and accelerator mentorship program in Toronto that aims to address the BIPOC equity gap in the creative industry.
11. Native Shoes
Price Range | $32–$160 | Shop Native Shoes’ Shoes
Materials | Recycled PET, algae foam, corn-based PU, cork vegan leather, organic cotton, solvent-free vegan suede, and proprietary sustainable materials made with a blend of traditional EVA and a sugarcane-derived resin called Sugarlite™.
What We Love | With each step, you’re rejecting high carbon-footprint brands and taking a stand for our planet in ethical shoes with ¼–½ the CO2 output—not to mention being bouncy and comfortable.
Native’s Affordable Ethical Made Shoes
There aren’t many ethical budget shoe brands out there, and while Native isn’t a budget brand, they do have a reasonable price range—making them some of the more affordable ethical shoes on the market.
Its soft, comfort-driven design is punctuated with perforations for that extra breezy feel. Let’s not forget the tropical fruit print that’s like a mini-vacation for your feet.
Carbon Goals & Achievements | Native have been working tirelessly over the last two years to understand their climate impact and reach carbon neutrality in 2023. The result? The Jefferson shoe is one of the lowest-impact shoes on the market, with just 3.85kg CO2e per pair. They just implemented a carbon emission accounting software platform, BMO Radicle, to monitor, measure, reduce, and report their yearly carbon impact. Their Vancouver HW is renewable powered.
Supply Chain | Most of Native’s supply chain is located in Vietnam and China, but we’re not certain what ethical protections are in place.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion | Native is an equal opportunity employer and values diversity.
Pay It Forward | Native’s Remix™ Project recycles old shoes and breathes new life into them, repurposing them into seating, playground flooring, insulation, and more.
How Did We Choose The Best Ethical Shoe Brands?
So how do you know if a footwear brand is ethical? Is New Balance an ethical company? What about Skechers?
In other words: what are ethically made shoes?
It’s important to know what criteria to pay attention to, even if you don’t choose any from our list.
To truly assess a brand’s dedication to sustainability, we looked beyond the surface. While some shoe companies may claim to be eco-friendly, we dug deeper to figure out which are genuinely sustainable.
B Corporation (B Corp), Climate Neutral Certified, Leather Working Group (LWG), bluesign®, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), ZQ Merino, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), OEKO-TEX
Fabrics & Materials:
Material choice is crucial for the environmental impact of a garment. We prioritized sustainable brands who use recycled materials for syntheics or biodegradable eco-friendly materials (i.e. natural rubber, organic cotton, cork vegan leather, bio-based foams).
While science hasn’t yet dialed 100% recycled foams yet, we appreciate those minimizing the percentage of petroleum based foams by cutting them with bio-based alternatives.
It’s one thing to throw around buzzwords like ‘ethical leather’ but we sought out brands with certifications to back up these claims, And while we prefer vegan shoes, if we did consider leather, we ideally want vegetable tanned leather or leather from recycled materials.
For a list of brands who use recycled materials, check out our list of recycled shoes.
Carbon Goals & Achievements:
While there are a plethora of ethical shoes online, not all are created equal, so we carefully considered the efforts each brand has made with regard to their carbon goals.
We considered things like offsetting carbon emissions, carbon measuring and reduction plans, recycling programs, efficient shipping, renewable energy use, and long-lasting designs.
It’s not easy to research what shoes are made ethically.
While plenty of so-called ethically made shoes claim to be fair trade, that is not always the case. Any brand can claim to manufacture fair trade shoes, USA brands included—since the term ‘fair trade’ is not protected.
Transparency with regard to supply chain is crucial for ensuring human rights in the fashion industry, so we deliberately selected sustainable brands that are traceable in their shoe manufacturing processes This ensures fair payment and safe working conditions for artisans.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion:
Diversity, equity, and inclusion refer to policies and programs that promote representation and participation of diverse groups. From initiatives for equal access and employment to fostering a sense of belonging for underrepresented individuals in the workplace.
Pay It Forward:
We admire those that strive to make a positive difference in the world by dedicating their time or funds to social and environmental causes.
While we tried to create a list of ethical shoe brands who make this a core part of their ethos, some are still finding their footing (pun intended) in terms of full-scale charity.
Closing Thoughts On Ethical & Fair Trade Shoe Brands
Fashion, a highly polluting industry, requires significant reform, and this includes the footwear sector. The next time you go shoe shopping, remain conscious of the footwear industry’s impact on the environment.
Luckily, there’s a wide range of ethically made footwear options, as we’ve highlighted in this list. Each brand has been field-tested and/or recommended by us, so you can be confident these are some of the most ethical shoe brands out there.
Join us in highlighting brands that are revolutionizing the ethical shoe industry by dropping your favorite brands in the comments and passing this article along to a fellow footwear fanatic.