It seems, at times, that the fashion industry completely denies the existence of climate change. One of the biggest polluters in the world, with ten percent of global carbon emissions caused by the fashion industry, there’s no denying that as much as we love fashion, it’s killing the planet.
But this doesn’t mean we have to start wearing old potato sacks and going barefoot to make eco-friendly and sustainable fashion choices; we can still look good and stylish by choosing to purchase from brands who are consciously striving to make their clothes and shoes in a more sustainable and ethical way.
Here at DMARGE, we love a good shoe; quality footwear has the power to elevate outfits and keep our feet feeling comfortable all day long. And there are a surprising number of shoe brands that make extremely supportive and sophisticated shoes from renewable or recycled materials through sustainable and ethical methods; which of course we’ve rounded up for you below.
Features of sustainable shoes
Most sustainable shoes are made from either natural materials (wool, organic cotton, leather off-cuts, etc.) or upcycled/recycled materials (plastic bottles, old sneakers, etc). The materials should have been sourced in a sustainable and ethical way, which is easy to find out as reputable and trustworthy sustainable shoe brands are extremely transparent and will have this information on their sites.
Other features to look out for are whether the footwear brand is dedicated to producing their shoes in a way that’s low in terms of a carbon footprint, whether the brand offsets their carbon emissions, and whether the brand champions fair working conditions for their employees and factory workers.
Sustainable Shoe FAQs
What does 'sustainable fashion' mean?
Sustainable fashion refers to a movement pushing for the entire fashion industry to move towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. By brands becoming more sustainable they are reducing their carbon footprint, and encourage other brands to do the same. Plus, most 'sustainable' brands advocate for factory workers to have better pay and working conditions.
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If you’re looking for ways to help our environment, the next time you need a new pair of shoes, purchase from one of the following sustainable shoe brands that produce eco-friendly and ethical men’s footwear through fair labour practices. The brands below produce every type of shoe you could ever need – sneaker, slip-on, sandal, boat shoe, boots, dress shoes, etc. – sustainably.
Cariuma embraces personal style over status-quo trends to empower conscious consumers to buy quality over quantity; which Cariuma believes is the only true answer to sustainability. The brand only uses premium raw materials such as bamboo and organic cotton, in order to yield a smaller footprint when crafting their sneakers, and ensures that all of their factory workers make a comfortable, living wage and adhere to a manageable work week to ensure a healthy work/life balance.
Completely transparent and dedicated to making the words style, comfort, and sustainability synonymous, Cariuma has a large range of low-top, high-top and slip-on sneakers available in multiple colours that’ll keep your feet feeling and looking good.
Their main mission is to never send another sneaker to landfill, and Thousand Fell achieves this with their recycling program. They ask when you’re finished with your sneakers, send them back to Thousand Fell so they can either refurbish them and donate them to someone in need, or they can ensure that the raw materials of the sneakers are reused.
Thousand Fell has a huge range of men’s sneakers, in different colour varieties, all crafted from recycled bottles, natural rubber, and innovative food waste component parts; but you seriously won’t be able to tell as these shoes are extremely stylish and well-made.
Allbirds is seriously committed to regenerative agriculture (shifting how they farm to draw carbon from the atmosphere), renewable materials, responsible energy (using less and cleaner fuel and electricity), and complete transparency; Allbirds' process and future plans are openly available on their website and the brand encourages for the public to keep them and other brands accountable.
Allbirds has a great selection of sneakers, slip-ons, and boat shoes that come in various styles, materials, and colours, that are all comfortable and made in an ethical and sustainable way.
Tropicfeel believes it’s their responsibility to create products that are designed, sourced, and manufactured in ways that are good for their community and good for the planet. All of Tropicfeel's sneaker insoles are made with 8% Bloom foam, a material made from harvested algae; a process that helps protect aquatic life. Plus, 20% upcycled EVA material is used in all sneaker midsoles, helping reduce unnecessary waste.
With more than seventy percent of the materials used in Tropicfeel’s footwear that are proven to be sustainable or eco-friendly, and a range of high-performance sneakers in different styles and colours, this is one brand selling seriously impressive sustainable shoes.
Some of these steps include only using leather that is natural and biodegradable, sending out their shoes in 100% recyclable cardboard packaging, and partnering only with factories that use less water, electricity, and energy consumption.
Plus, Greats' range of men’s footwear have been designed to be trend-resistant, and are super easy to dress up or down. Any pair of Greats’ sneakers, slides, sandals, or slip-ons are going to play nice with anything you already own, and will comfortably take you where you need to go in sustainable style.
Everlane carefully considers their materials and works with their production partners to reduce waste, chemicals, and plastics that endanger the planet’s ecosystems. Everlane strives to use the most sustainable materials from farm to factory, and invests in new fabric innovations to ensure they're reducing the fashion industry's impact on the planet. Everlane is also committed to providing fair wages, labor conditions, reasonable hours, and a safe work environment, to all of their employees and factory workers .
The brand has a small range of men’s shoes, predominantly sneakers, available in timeless designs and classic colours, all of which will make you look and feel good about an eco-friendly purchase.
Amberjack sources their leather from an ISO-certified sustainable tannery, manufactures their shoes in a fair wage factory, and uses plastic-free packaging. Not to mention, they are the world's first dress shoe company to be 100% carbon neutral.
Amberjack only has one shoe available, ‘The Original’, but it comes in five timeless colours and is ever so sleek and stylish it’ll elevate your smart-casual and formal outfits in a sustainable way.
BAABUK, a family-owned business, exclusively uses wool because it's a long lasting, recyclable, and renewable fabric. The brand goes to great lengths to ensure the best possible care is given to the animals that provide their wool and that there’s traceability and accountability for all the resources they use. BAABUK also provides their factory workers with a salary that's 25% higher than the national average.
The brand has a great range of slip-ons, sneakers, and boots to offer, that are all moisture-wicking, durable, flexible, and water-repellent. Available in multiple colours, BAABUK's sustainable shoes will elevate your look and keep you comfortable.
Casca intentionally designs their shoes to reduce off-cuts and wasted material, and ensure high ethical standards in all of the factories they partner with. A relatively new brand, Casca is aware there is much more to be done to become 'sustainable' but they are currently working on a more extensive sustainability plan to achieve this as quickly as possible.
Their range of shoes, mainly sneakers and slip-ons, is fantastic, and features a few different styles and silhouettes in a variety of colours. Plus, any Casca shoe will elevate your look as well as keep your feet extremely comfortable with triple-thick cushioning.
Since 2018, Nisolo has offset the carbon emissions of everything they've produced in that time, and have incorporated only using upcycled and recycled materials when crafting their shoes. Plus, every Nisolo purchase provides a living wage to producers in the Peru factory they own, enables Nisolo to pursue living wages within the rest of their supply chain, and combats climate change by protecting trees from deforestation in the Amazon Basin.
If you're after eco-friendly sustainable shoes, Nisolo is a brand you can't ignore. Their range is huge and features stylish sandals, slip-ons, loafers, sneakers, boots, and oxfords; any pair will, guaranteed, make you look sophisticated.
United By Blue
Additionally, United By Blue only ever uses sustainably-sourced materials for their products; which are created to last, because the best way to be a conscious consumer is to ultimately consume less. Not only are they committed to sustainable materials, United By Blue is also dedicated to ethical manufacturing and a zero-plastic policy.
A certified B Corp, United By Blue has a great range of men’s shoes that're very stylish and versatile.
The brand also has some ambitious goals they're dedicated to achieve in the next three years. By the end of 2021, Rothy's will have a recycling program where consumers can send back their worn-out sneakers and Rothy's will either refurbish them or upcycle the materials.
By the end of 2022, Rothy's will achieve zero waste at their factory and will begin incorporating twice-recycled materials into their sneakers, and by the end of 2023, Rothy's aims to have circular production and carbon neutral status.
With only one sneaker and one loafer on offer (although, both come in multiple colours), Rothy's footwear range is small. But their shoes have a classic American style, have been made sustainably, and will take comfort, durability, and style to a new level.
All makers and artisans employed by Made Trade are paid a living wage and are provided safe and healthy working conditions. Plus, only eco-friendly practices are used in the manufacturing process. All products are made with earth-friendly materials; either responsibly sourced, harvested, recycled or upcycled, and are intentionally designed to create a minimal negative environmental impact.
Made Trade has a fantastic range of men's shoes that are all incredibly cool. With slip-ons, sandals, boots, sneakers, oxfords, and loafers, all made from responsibly sourced leathers and suedes, Made Trade’s shoes are sure to fit in with your sustainable wardrobe, especially because they don't skimp on style.
Ethletic only uses natural rubber, extracted from the rubber tree, and organic cotton to make their products. Ethletic's manufacturing facilities are located in Pakistan, and their goal is to help improve the living conditions of the workers; therefore, 15% of all Ethletic sneaker's purchase price goes to the workers´ welfare association.
Ethletic have a huge range of vegan sustainable shoes, predominantly men’s sneakers, in a variety of colours and prints; their sneakers have a similar look to Converse's, making them classically cool and stylish.
The certified B corp, TOMS is dedicated to improving their carbon footprint, making products rooted in earth-friendly materials & processes, using sustainable cotton, and providing complete transparency to their consumers.
TOMS' huge range of sustainable shoes, including slip-ons, sneakers, espadrilles, dress shoes, and boots, are designed for comfort and come in a fantastic variety of styles and colours.
Dr Scholls' range of innovative footwear are extremely comfortable, versatile, and have uncomplicated, modern style; and are available in every type of men’s shoe, from sneakers to oxfords, sandals to boots.
Noah's wide range of shoes, available in a wide variety of styles and colours, means that you don’t have to compromise on the latest trends to support sustainable fashion and enjoy cruelty-free products. It's truly win-win.
As of 2020, from all the textiles and leathers VEJA use while crafting their sneakers, 85% are considered environmentally 'preferred' raw materials; e.g. recycled PET, organic cotton, ChromeFree leather, organic jute, C.W.L., and recycled cotton, and VEJA will strive to reach 100% as quickly as they possibly can.
Completely transparent about their entire process, VEJA has a great range of shoes, predominantly men’s sneakers, perfect for everyday style and comfort.
As many natural and recycled materials as possible are used in their shoes for a more sustainable future, and are available in a huge variety of styles and colours.