15 Sustainable Shoe Brands For An Ethical Footprint

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15 Sustainable Shoe Brands For An Ethical Footprint

Fair Trade & Sustainable Shoe Brands

Unfortunately, shoe production is not exempt from the sweatshop labor and hazardous production processes involved in fashion manufacturing. But as consumers, we have the power to use our voices and speak up. Through our purchases, we can make a positive difference for the people that make our shoes, and we can shop at brands that ensure their workers have fair wages and environmentally safe working conditions.

In our search for fair trade shoes, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite sustainable footwear brands. These companies produce fairly made shoes that range in function, style, and price. From hiking and running to work or a night out on the town, these shoe brands make it easier to fill your closet with high-quality footwear for every occasion (just don’t forget sustainable shoe insoles for maximum comfort). 

Also, if you’re looking for leather shoe alternatives, check out this guide for a list of our favorite vegan and cruelty-free shoes.

1. ABLE

Based In | Nashville, TN
Ethics | Certified B Corp, women artisan-made, fair labor & wages, Leather Working Group certified leather, eco-friendly packaging
Best For | Minimalist shoes
Product Range | Women’s sandals, heels, flats, sneakers, boots, loafers
Price Range | $70–$145

The minimalistic design of ABLE’s shoes makes these a classic addition to your sustainable wardrobe. The color palette for this footwear collection features elegant basics in neutral tones, and the seasonal arrivals are bright and cheerful! If you don’t get the right shoe size the first time, ABLE offers unlimited free returns and exchanges. This certified B Corp is dedicated to creating long-term economic impact by employing women artisans worldwide.

Shop ABLE

2. Allbirds

Based In | San Francisco, CA
Ethics | Certified B Corp, carbon-neutral, natural & recycled materials, WRAP- & SMETA-certified production
Best For | Machine-washable sneakers
Product Range | Adult sneakers, loafers, slip-ons, flats, sandals, weather-repellent options
Price Range | $98–$145

Allbirds started with one simple mission: to make shoes in a better way, using natural materials. The brand’s shoes are made from sustainable materials, like FSC-certified Tencel lyocell and Merino wool—the latter of which ensures environmental and animal-friendly practices. With a simple pricing structure and comfortable, lightweight styles, Allbirds creates shoes that will have you walking on Cloud Nine.

Shop Allbirds

3. Sézane

Based In | Paris, France
Ethics
| Fair & safe working conditions, eco-friendly materials & packaging, all locations powered by renewable energy
Best For
| Boots & clogs
Product Range
| Women’s sneakers, boots, pumps, loafers, sandals
Price Range
| $145–$420

The quintessential Parisian brand Sézane designs stunning shoes for the modern woman. The European label has forged strong partnerships in many countries, always focusing on where and how its shoes are made. The team advocates for safe working conditions for their artisans and uses more than 75 percent eco-friendly materials in production. Can you say conscious and chic?

Shop Sézane

4. Nisolo

Based In | Nashville, TN
Ethics | Certified B Corp, artisan-made, fair labor & wages, climate-neutral certified, Leather Working Group certified leather, vegetable-tanned leather
Best For | Artisan leather shoes
Product Range | Adult sneakers, boots, heels, chukkas, mules, oxfords, loafers, sandals
Price Range | $90–$250

Nisolo collaborates with local artisans in Peru to create its stunning shoe collection. The brand boasts a gorgeous line of adult-sized sneakers, heeled boots, mules, and sandals. We love these beautifully designed, well-made shoes that offer 100 percent living wages and zero net carbon.

Shop Nisolo

5. Cariuma

Based In | Rio, Brazil
Ethics | Natural materials, low impact dyes, ethically made via ILO standards, carbon-neutral shipping, reforestation program
Best For | High-tops
Product Range | Adult sneakers (canvas, low-tops, high-tops, slip-ons)
Price Range | $79–$159

For some of the most sustainable and stylish sneakers on the planet, Cariuma is it. The brand’s materials include GOTS-certified organic cotton, bamboo, recycled PET, and Leather Working Group-certified leather and suede, dyed with low-impact inks. Whether you’re a high-top gal or a sneakerhead, you’ll find a variety of colors, sizes, and styles sure to impress.

Shop Cariuma

6. Thousand Fell

Based In | Brazil & New York City, NY
Ethics | Recyclable sneakers, sustainable & vegan materials, closed-loop processes
Best For | Sneakers
Product Range | Adult lace-ups & slip-ons
Price Range | $120

Designed in New York and made in a family-owned factory in Brazil, Thousand Fell sneakers are made to last and built to recycle. No, really. These shoes are crafted from recycled plastic and rubber as well as natural materials like palm leaf fibers and coconut husks. As 97 percent of shoes end up in landfills, the team takes your sneakers back once you’re ready, refurbishes them, and gives them to someone in need—and gives you a $20 credit.

Shop Thousand Fell

7. Rothy’s

Based In | San Francisco, CA & China
Ethics | Recycled materials, sustainable packaging & practices, fair labor practices
Best For | Comfort flats & loafers
Product Range | Adult & children’s flats, slip-ons, loafers, lace-up sneakers, sandals, boots
Price Range | $55–$185

Rothy’s crafts the sustainable shoes of the future: Each pair of shoes is shaped by 3D knitting using ocean-bound plastic. (They’ve diverted 100 tons of single-use plastic so far.) There’s far less waste involved, too; all you’re left with are shoes that fit like a glove. Often touted as one of the most comfortable shoes out there, they’re designed to last and are fully machine washable. It’s the perfect eco-investment for adults and children alike.

Shop Rothy’s

8. Reformation

Based In | Los Angeles, CA
Ethics | Climate Neutral, audited factories, Leather Working Group responsibly sourced leather, partner with groups like Fair Labor Association
Best For | Special occasion shoes & sandals
Product Range | Women’s boots, flats, heels, sandals, mules, platforms
Price Range | $98–$428

Behind every trend is a Reformation original—at least it feels that way! Ref’s shoes are always in style, and stay chic well into the next fashion season (and the next, and the next). Their shoes are made using materials from Leather Working Group gold and silver audited tanneries, and made in a fair wage environment. We particularly love that this brand is climate-neutral with an aim to be climate positive by 2025.

Shop Reformation

9. Veja

Based In | Paris, France
Ethics | Certified B Corp, fair trade practices, organic & upcycled materials, vegan options
Best For | Street shoes
Product Range | Adult & children’s sneakers
Price Range | €72–€229

Veja is a leader in eco and ethical production for street shoes—and they recently launched running shoes as well! The brand buys organic and ecologically friendly materials from fair trade family farms in Brazil and the Amazon and partners with a charity that employs marginalized people as a way to reintegrate into society. During production, Veja prioritizes low to zero waste practices, low energy production, and recyclable packaging.

Shop Veja

10. Zou Xou

Based In | Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ethics
| Small batch production, artisan-made, meets fair labor standards
Best For
| Made-to-order shoes
Product Range
| Women’s slip-ons, flats, mules, heels, sandals, boots
Price Range
| $149–$298

Zou Xou is the brand for those who love comfort and style. Inspired by classics like pumps, slip-ons, and mules, Zou Xou works with Argentinian artisans to make timeless shoes in small batches, using traditional techniques and quality materials. Don’t see your shoe size? You can invest in a made-to-order option! This way, Zou Xou cuts down on waste, and you’re left with shoes that will last.

Shop Zou Xou

11. The Root Collective

Based In | Guatemala
Ethics | Leather & textiles paired together in Guatemala, beyond fair trade wages & fair labor, works with women’s co-ops
Best For | Flats (customization available)
Product Range | Women’s flats, boots, sandals, heels, & men’s boots
Price Range | $128–$348

In an often mass-produced world, The Root Collective reminds us to think about who and where our shoes are made. Working with shoemakers and textile-weavers in Guatemala, the brand believes ethically made shoes can change lives and start a culture of kindness. Plus, you can meet the makers who’ve consented to sharing their stories! We’re big fans of these fun, colorful footwear options.

Shop The Root Collective

12. TOMS

Based In | Los Angeles, CA
Ethics | Certified B Corp, fair labor & wages, gives back ⅓ of profits via grassroots orgs, eco-friendly packaging & materials
Best For | Everyday shoes
Product Range | Adult & children’s flats, slip-ons, sandals, heels, boots, sneakers
Price Range | $29.95–$149.95

TOMS has given over 100 million pairs of shoes to children in need through their revolutionary one-for-one model. Today, the brand gives back one-third (!) of profits to grassroots organizations focused on equity. TOMS has a bold agenda for sustainability, including organic and recyclable materials, reduced carbon footprints, and transparent reporting. We love TOMS for its affordable and expanding shoe selection and, of course, comfortable classics for the whole family.

Shop TOMS

13. Thesus Outdoors

Based In | Toronto, Canada
Ethics | Fair trade rubber, natural & recycled materials, virgin plastic-free, 90 percent traceable, fair & safe working conditions
Best For | Waterproof rainboots
Product Range | Adult boots & slip-ons
Price Range | $120–$198

Thesus Outdoors makes wearable, fashionable footwear—with one of the most thoughtful supply chains around. Small scale producers and artisans craft its popular waterproof rainboots using 100 percent natural and certified fair trade rubber. Pair these effortlessly lightweight and chic boots with denim or shorts, in the rain or the snow, and you’ll be ready to weather any storm.

Shop Thesus Outdoors

14. Ma’am

Based In | Los Angeles, CA
Ethics | Made in the USA, minimal & recyclable packaging, gives back to various social initiatives
Best For | All-day comfort heels
Product Range | Women’s sandals, heels, and boots
Price Range | $245–$350

For stylish shoes that you can actually live in, look no further than Ma’am. Made in Los Angeles from quality materials, these shoes also have a 3mm layer of poron foam cushion and inner and outer arch support. That means you can wear them all day without the usual achey feet! The brand also releases seasonal collaborations, where proceeds go back to social, professional, and civic causes for women. Comfy shoes that are elegant, sustainable, and will last us years to come? Yes, Ma’am!

Shop Ma’am

15. Native

Based In | Vancouver, BC
Ethics | PETA-certified vegan, recyclable, made in factories with rigorous ethical standards
Best For | Vegan sneakers for kids & adults
Product Range | Adult & children’s boots, sandals, sneakers, and slip-ons
Price Range | $32–$110

Native makes affordable shoes that the whole family will love! With styles for adults and kids, these vegan shoes are made using extraordinary cruelty-free materials. Take the Bloom material for example—made from repurposed algae biomass, the creation of this plastic alternative clears waterways and purifies the air. Whether you’re looking for insulated hiking boots for men, or teeny tiny summer sandals for the little ones (they make fits for 12-24 month-olds!), Native has the footwear you need to tread lightly.

Shop Native

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Featured image via Sézane

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