Best foot forward: 15 ethical and vegan shoe brands for winter
It’s that time of year again. Put the pumps and flip flops away and embrace the laces, socks and support of a new pair of boots.
We’ve rounded up our favourite ethical, eco-friendly and vegan shoe brands for autumn for men and women.
From fair trade factories to organic materials and social enterprises, each of these sustainable shoe brands is helping to change the world. Walk the talk in one of these ethical pairs of shoes.
Mon 11 Sep 2017
Best foot forward: 15 ethical and vegan shoe brands for winter
BANGS were inspired by its founder's travels in Asia so an Asian family-owned factory creates these vegan friendly, unisex shoes for fair wages and 20% of their profits provide recyclable loans for entrepreneurs worldwide. They’ve given out 700 so far. We're in love with this quirky US map pair you can colour in. These are no nonsense, easy going boots for everyday adventures.
Everyone needs everyday trainers and these high top style ones from TOMSare the super comfortable shoes you'll pull on without thinking. These birch canvas guys are part of the TRVL LITE collection with the lightest sole the brand has ever made. There's a cork covered footbed with some small leather details. And with all TOMS shoes, you get a pair and so does a child in need.
Fortress of Inca
Mules, flats and boots are the name of the game from Peruvian based Fortress of Inca. Their stylish delights are perfect for stepping it up at work, but not stepping all over the planet. These are ethical leather shoes with heart. Each pair is handmade in Peru by fairly paid artisans in sustainable workshops that combine the heritage of their textiles with a modern shoe silhouette.
Baabuk is a great example of just how versatile wool can be. Its trainers for men and women are made out of 100% felted wool. They’re naturally breathable and antibacterial and the felted wool is also water-repellent. Inspired by the felted boots Russians wore in Siberia, this Swiss brand founded its own ethical workshop in Nepal and also has a factory in Portugal, where it uses wool from happy sheep who graze nearby. Feeling wooly yet?
Mamahuhu's ethical leather shoes are made in Colombia where they've set up 12 fair trade workshops that train shoemakers to become entrepreneurs and run their own community workshops. The leather is leftover from the food industry, tanned ecologically and is eco-certified. And the boots and Oxford shoes for men and women are gorgeous. Comfy, super stylish and reasonably priced. What more could you ask for?
One of Emma Watson’s favourites, ethical and vegan shoe brand, Veja, produce trend lead trainers for urban explorers. Organic materials like cotton and rubber are sourced sustainably and turned into endless styles with the iconic brand V on the side of each shoe. Not every collection is vegan but there are enough vegan options to keep non-leather lovers happy.
Looking for vegan shoes that don’t shout vegan? PETA approved Beyond Skin hand make all their styles from heels to trainers in Spain using eco-friendly materials. From camel coloured ankle boots to knee high black faux suede numbers (made from 100% recycled PET plastics) and pewter brogues, Beyond Skin operate like a regular shoe brand, only there’s no leather or PVC. There are hundreds of styles of flats and heels to choose from. Enough to keep even the most dedicated shoe-shopper happy.
Indian inspired ethical shoe and accessories brand Funky Kalakar are vegan friendly. It uses an ancient Indian vegetable dying technique to colour and pattern the cotton and uses recycled tyres for the soles. Shoes come in either a lace up or slip on design in a huge array of colours, perfect for a little light touch of dandy style this autumn.
Green Shoes is a sustainable shoe brand based in Devon. The team make each pair in the workshop using ethically sourced leather and they can make each style as a vegan shoe too. Pick from ready to wear hearty boots that will last years or T bar sandals, mocassins and pumps - we love the look of the relaxed Tavistock boot. Or go bespoke! Green Shoes can also make shoes in four different widths, so pick your style and colour and away you go.
Even the skate shoe has had an ethical makeover. German brand Langbrett are made from chrome free leather, lined with organic cotton fleece and made with recycled cork soles. Langbrett go above and beyond in sourcing materials, they own their own sheep flock to make wool and their profits go back into developing their own skating community in Germany. These unisex German skate boots are available at Gather Outdoors.
Championing ethical shoe production, Nisolo is a sustainable shoe brand that wears its heart on its sleeve. Stylish shoes and boots for guys and girls come off its production line, where healthcare, higher than fair trade wages and a healthy working environment come as standard for its workers. Its even built its own factory to showcase how others can raise the bar. Nisolo uses traditional Peruvian shoe making skills to turn out simply gorgeous shoes. It does use leather but the leather comes from ethical tanneries who have eco-friendly waste disposal systems.
Feel the force (sorry we had to) of the new Star Wars collection of shoes at Po-Zu, the acclaimed ethical and vegan brand. While you can get regular trainers (we love the metallics and the ones made of cork), the BB-8 high-tops are pretty hard to ignore. They feature organic cotton, a cork lining and a natural rubber sole. All of Po-Zu's shoes are made by hand in Portugal at an eco-friendly factory or in Sri Lanka - see here for how they make their sustainable sneaker line. No toxic dyes are used, nearly all waste is recycled and shoes are shipped by sea rather than air.
Fellow Blue Patch winners (did we tell you we won an award?), social enterprise Juta Shoes are based in London and run workshops where you can learn to make your own reclaimed leather shoes. This ethical shoe brand uses eco-friendly materials and employs marginalised local women to create the sliders and espadrilles.
Novesta has been making rubber soled shoes for nearly 100 years in Slovakia. Not much has changed, it sources sustainably grown natural rubber and cotton and each pair is hand-finished. The eco-friendly production doesn’t use any chemicals and this sustainable shoe brand is a fab everyday choice for no fuss trainers that don’t cost the earth.
Oliberté are the proud owners of the first Fair trade footwear factory in the world. This sustainable shoe brand supports workers rights in sub-Saharan Africa, with a factory in Ethiopia that goes above and beyond for its employees. But just as importantly, it also makes amazing ethically produced shoes. Everything from Oxfords to chukkas, sneakers to wedges are produced here from local leathers. It’s a perfect brand to bring out the inner adventurer in you, we love the rustic charm that seems to exude from each pair.
A Day's March
Swedish brand A Day's March is about affordable sustainably produced basics that stand the test of time rather than bend with trends. It's slow fashion for the style conscious.
The brand's trainers are subtle and low-key and produced in an ethically-certified factory in Portugal. While they're not vegan, the shoes are made fairly and made to last.