“Good shoes take you good places.”
We often talk about ethical fashion: clothing, fabrics, garment manufacturers and all that very important stuff, but I can’t help but feel that shoes get a little left out. We ask retailers “who made my clothes?” but what about “who made my shoes?” Who DID make my shoes?!
Finding ethical and sustainable brands can be hard: the right brands, the right styles, legitimate manufacturers, local producers and the like. Therefore this week, as I was born and bred in the UK’s hometown of shoe-making – Northampton – I want to share 6 sustainable and ethical shoe-makers to help you find your sole-mate 😉
A idea born from two Parisian designers, Francois-Ghislai Morillon and Sebastien Kopp, Veja is a brand that only uses sustainably sourced rubber from the Amazon and organic cotton in their trademark sneakers. Producing super trendy and aesthetically pleasing trainers this brand prove that to be sustainable you don’t have to sacrifice style.
Matt & Nat do a lot right, and are one sustainable brand that have a pretty big collection of shoes. Their sandals, trainers and city girl heels are comfy, stylish and extremely resilient; using vegan leather, wood and rubber they’re durable and sustainable which not only reduces your environmental impact but also the chances of you needing a new pair any time soon.
Bourgeois Boheme was founded in 2005 by ex-podiatrist and long-time vegan Alicia who wanted to combine her foot care expertise with her love for shoes to create the animal-free classic styles she was struggling to find. With her goal achieved all the collections are now Vegan Society trademarked and PETA approved. All of Bourgeois Boheme’s brand-exclusive styles are ethically made by artisans in Portugal who use the best innovative, eco-friendly and vegan materials. Using alternatives to traditional shoe-making materials such as cotton-backed microfibre PU, Pinatex, Bio-polyoils, cork and EcoStone you can choose any pair of shoes and know that you’re walking responsibly.
Ethical, eco-friendly and animal-free, The Third Estate are a Camden-based sustainable/ethical brand retailing clothes, accessories and shoes. Here you can pick up boots, trainers, sandals and office-appropriate flats and heels that are all vegetarian at the very least, from various brands including their own. The Third Estate are noted for their own Breathable Vegetan Micro material and use cork and rubber in place of plastics.
With a tagline of “shoes with a good sole”, Po-Zu are committed to comfort, style, ethics, sustainability and quality; their goal is to halt the damage that modern footwear manufacturing often causes to people and planet. Their shoes are made in a small eco-friendly factory in Portugal by well-trained artisans. As far as ethical business principles go, Po-Zu have got it pretty good, with all their materials coming from renewable sources that are responsibly harvested and contain no toxins or chemicals. Po-Zu are members of the Fair Rubber Association and have been awarded the Positive Luxury Butterfly mark.
These guys are wicked, they have a huge range super stylish vegan shoes for any occasion – even getting married. Beyond Skin use recycled materials, vegan leather, microfibre suede and are completely sweatshop-free as they work with ethical specialists in Alicante, Spain. Each season Beyond Skin strive to integrate more and more sustainable practices into their operations, recently incorporating 100% recycled PU and recycled resin.
Finally a bonus brand: number 7 is Peponita Shoes – a relatively new brand introduced to me a by a friend, Ellen Upton whose friend Sigrid started the brand. All their shoes are designed in London and produced by artisans and family businesses in Italy or by the designers themselves in London and they have some super funky and fabulous styles on offer. Since the brand begun in 2013 it has grown from one-woman-band Sigrid, to a whole team of female designers. You can shop online, or I recommend popping down to their Brixton store in London to see everything on offer with your own eyes AND grab a coffee in-store thanks to their partnership with the Volcano small-batch roastery.