Shoes are wardrobe staples. They are designed to protect our feet from cold weather, sharp objects, and uncomfortable surfaces. But as shoes have passed on from being an item of luxury to an item of absolute necessity (as with most items that have withstood the test of time) fashion has played a vital role in its evolution as our human psyche now craves for an individual and unique identity.
With more sneaker brands on the market, finding a pair that is comfortable, durable and stylish seems an easy task. But where it gets complicated and down right frustrating, is finding a stylish pair that are also sustainable and ethical.
With this problem in mind, we’ve created this post to help you navigate the world of ethical and ‘eco’ sneaker brands.
Etiko is a small Australian-based business that offers a wide range of organic sneakers and apparel, a range of Fair Trade, organic sneakers, thongs (flip flops), t-shirts and underwear. The brand prides itself on putting “people and planet first” and commits itself to purchasing huge amounts of Fair Trade products from marginalised producer groups in developing countries. Etiko also exclusively sources organic cotton for its products.
The brand continually finds ways to raise the bar on “doing good” while having positive social and environmental impacts. It is a pioneer in its field winning awards and accolades for being the first non-food brand to receive Fairtrade certification in the Pacific region and winning countless awards including the Human Rights Award for its transparent and ethical supply chain and commitment to positive social impact.
It is without a doubt that Etiko one of the front runners in the ethical sneaker world. If you’re searching for ethical sneakers to suit every individual in your family – men, women and children – you’ll find a pair at Etiko.
Reebok is owned by the Adidas group who are leading the way in the eco-friendly sports shoe arena by partnering with environmental charity Parley to produce a range of high-performance runners made of recycled ocean plastic. Like Adidas, it has achieved a ‘Good’ rating from Good On You ratings app and an A-minus from the latest Ethical Fashion Guide. According to Choice, Reebok’s “overtime is within the legal framework and 95% of the workforce is part of a union.” It’s making progress in some areas, but needs to improve in other areas, such as worker empowerment but overall, the company is moving in the right direction.
Reebok is following in the footsteps of its parent company, launching its first range of sustainable, vegan sneakers last month, made of cotton and corn, with 75% of the shoe made from USDA-certified biological materials. It took Reebok a total of five years to create the shoe from design through to final product.
While the brand has a long way to go yet in using eco-friendly materials in its entire range, the fact that it is making progress should be celebrated. And let’s get real, these eco-friendly plant-based sneakers are seriously trendy! At a retail price of USD $95, the price point is reasonable enough for the mainstream consumer, so much so we’re sure that they’ll walk themselves out the door! To learn more visit, reebok.com.
Founded in 2004, by Sébastien Kopp and Ghislain Morillion, this brand is the epitome of ethical sneaker design. One look at Veja’s vegan shoes is enough to make you seriously consider veganism. While the brand promotes sustainable agriculture through its use of rubber from the Amazon, organic cotton and vegetable tanned leather, it also advocates fair worker rights and provides employment for Brazilian farmers and families in need.
Veja’s sleek designs and comfy sports shoe range caters to both men and women alike. It also offers a range of basic sneakers through to more edgy styles, offering prints and colors for the style chameleon. No doubt, this French footwear company lives up to its commitment to produce highly-coveted shoes that are harmless to its humans, animals and the Earth.
Related Post: Vegan Leather Options & Alternatives to Animal Leather
This brand leads the ‘sustainably stylish’ pack combining design, fair trade and ecology rather seamlessly. An ethical sneaker brand given the tick of approval by the fashion elite and you know it’s a winner.
(Note: Veja does vegan and non-vegan styles providing conscious consumers with a choice)
This environmentally conscious footwear company uses recycled tire treads as the soles of its shoes, locally sourced and cruelty-free materials during its transformation of waste into fashionable and functional items.
With its popular tag line – “tires to soles” – Indosole amazingly repurposes old tires from landfills and transforms them into the soles of new streetwise sneakers and shoes, such that the negative impact on the environment is diverted to positive ones. Its footwear collections also feature other repurposed materials like burlap sacks and coffee wrappers.
Who wouldn’t love to see brands using awesome creativity to transform waste into something new and beautiful? Unbox its pair of sneakers here.
5. Matt & Nat
A popular vegan brand producing a range of shoes and accessories, Matt & Nat is inspired by MAT(T)erial & NATure – assuring its customers that each of its products live up to its simple motto: Live beautifully. Already well-known amongst fashionistas for on-point vegan bags, the brand is also responsible for some seriously sweet feet treats.
Its creative and eco-conscious team make a concerted effort to use sustainable and recycled materials in all of its designs. Its pairs are as functional, durable, comfy and fashionable to wear. The best bit? It’s animal cruelty-free and always will be.
Its beautiful collections can now be found in boutiques across Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia, USA, and UK or just head to the Matt & Nat online store here.
Nae is a Portuguese shoe brand with a vegan philosophy that cares about the people, animals and sustainability. Some would ask them: Why vegan shoes? They answer: Why not?
The brand’s philosophy No Animal Exploitation (NAE) proposes that fashion needn’t be cruel, that it can be stylish without human exploitation, animal slaughter and destruction of our natural environment.
Its sustainable shoe materials include recycled PET from bottles, OEKO-TEX® certified microfibres, recycled car tyres, natural cork, recycled thermoplastic and even pineapple leaf fibre from Piñatex™. And to top it off, Nae’s stylish sneakers are also made via a carbon-neutral manufacturing system!
If you’re seeking a sneaker brand that promotes kindness and fairness to people, planet and creatures great and small, make sure to check out Nae.
Po-Zu sprouts from a Japanese term which means to pause. Merging comfort and sustainability, all its shoe collections are made in a small factory in Portugal which has a strict non-toxic chemical policy, meaning the shoes do not contain pesticides, bleaches and toxic dyes.
Although it admits that the brand does sometimes use leather, it is worthy to note that the tanning process for the leather it sources, is free from harmful chemicals such as chromium, and heavy metals.
Related Post: Why There’s No Such Thing As Ethical Leather
This award-winning brand acknowledges that sustainability is a process that doesn’t end and involves making continuous improvements to reduce negative impact. Thus, Po-Zu emphasizes that its team is finding some smart alternatives to leather for its future ranges, and have recently introduced a vegan, solvent-free “eco-microfibre” sneaker. To browse its ethical sneaker collection, head to www.po-zu.com.
Have we missed some ethical sneaker brands that you think should be included in the list? Make sure to let us know by leaving a comment below!
Disclaimer: Prices and details are correct at time of publishing. This curated list is based on the writer’s research and does not fully take into account an individual’s set of ethics or style preferences. Before making any purchases, we encourage you to do your own research and recommend using online tools and apps that provide product reviews and brand ratings to help you make an informed decision. You can find a list of the top ethical ratings apps here. It also includes affiliate links. Monies earned from affiliate links helps us to pay fair team wages and cover runnings costs. For more information about our policies, click here.
Title image credit: Matt & Nat