Ethically Made Vegan Shoes That Only Leave Your Footprints In Nature

If there is one thing you should invest in, it’s making sure you’ve got a good pair of shoes. Good, in this scenario, does not only mean quality. It also means buying ethically made and sustainable footwear that will last you a good, long while.

Vegan shoes, with the many options now available, are no longer difficult to find. Even big retailers are coming out with vegan options, making the movement more popular and accessible to many.

The best vegan shoes will always depend on your personal preference, but hopefully, one (or some) on this list will pique your interest. Whether you’re looking for new vegan shoes for casual wear or work, we’ve got you covered!

We selected some popular vegan shoe brands for accessibility and some lesser-known ones if you want to support a small business.

Before we begin, always remember to buy consciously. Even in vegan fashion, it is easy to get caught up in the mindless purchasing habits too many of us are so keen on. Being mindful about your consumption has always been a cornerstone of sustainable living.

Bhava
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Bhava
  • Italian vegan leather
  • Vegan suede lining
  • Elegant hand-made products
Sydney Brown
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Sydney Brown
  • Natural renewable materials
  • PEFC-certified beech wood
  • Closed-loop recycling program
Etiko
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Etiko
  • All vegan footwear
  • Natural fair trade certified
  • Human rights activists

Flamingo's Life - Spain

Flamingo vegan shoes
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image by flamingoslife.com

Flamingo’s Life is a Spanish shoe company that believes in veganism as a vehicle for change. They are a completely animal-free corporation, and they are in the business to help the planet.

They acknowledge that the fashion industry is one of the most opaque and polluting industries in the world. Much of what they do is intended to contravene common standards in manufacturing.

The Shoe Collection

This brand’s main focus is sneakers. Their entire collection comprises retro sneaker designs that they’ve organized into different sections that represent various decades.

If you love shoes that give you a hint of the past, then you’ll definitely find a good pair here. They have high tops and low tops, so you have a lot of room for choices.

Their color palette is mostly neutral, with a little bit of color here and there. And overall, their shoes are really versatile and can be easily paired with different outfits.

Our personal favorite from their selection is Roland V.3 in Tricolor Ivory. It’s a beautiful off-white color with beige, red, and black detailing. It’s simple but still looks unique, with the colors working together perfectly to achieve a cohesive look.

It is also PETA-approved vegan and has a GOTS certification.

A solid runner-up for us is the Retro 90s design in navy blue and red. And if you want, you can also get an all-black shoe from their 90s collection.

Materials

Flamingo’s Life uses a wide variety of materials in their shoes. Their main priority has always been to create vegan shoes, so none of their components are animal-based.

And while that remains true always, they strive to go beyond the vegan label and use plant-based and biodegradable components wherever they can. They use corn waste, bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, and linen. They also use recycled plastic bottles and recycled cotton.

The Roland V.3, in particular, has uppers made of 47% corn waste. The corn waste material is fully biodegradable. But the uppers themselves still have other components, which were not specified. We are inclined to assume that this is where synthetic materials like recycled plastic come in.

The lining is made of bamboo material. Bamboo grows pretty fast and doesn’t require any agricultural materials to grow, making it a very sustainable resource.

The outsoles of this vegan shoe are made of natural and recycled rubber, while the insoles are made of cork and natural rubber.

These vegan shoes come packaged in a recycled cardboard box – a great example of where veganism and zero waste meet for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Brand Values

The philosophy of this brand has three main components: finding solutions to the ecological crisis, valuing animals, and making the fashion sector viable through increased transparency.

Their goal is to eventually make their sneakers fully biodegradable. We love vegan shoe brands that are always on the hunt for better components and constantly strive to lessen their environmental impact.

The brand has partnered with BCOME to help them analyze their impact, which will help their customers get a concise view of their supply chain.

Their FW20 collection has saved more than 200,000 liters of water and 84,000 kg of CO2 compared to leather sneakers. In addition, by being animal-free, they have successfully lessened their carbon footprint and water usage.

All their shoes are locally made in Spain and are family-managed. BCOME also certifies that all the people involved in making the sneakers work under ethical and safe working conditions. You can see more about the craftsmanship here.

Beyond that, Flamingo’s Life also has community projects. For example, they engage in building water wells in Uganda, have reforestation projects in Mozambique and Madagascar, and each pair bought helps clean the ocean through Waste Free Oceans (WFO).

Overall, this company is one of the best shoe brands available today. They’re thoughtful about their materials as well as their overall production process. But more than that, they know that there’s still more to be done and are constantly working toward better solutions.

Etiko - Australia

Etiko vegan shoes
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Image by Etiko.com.au

Etiko was the first-ever brand in the Southern hemisphere to be given the Fair Trade certification. Ever since 2005, they have always made respect for human rights the center of their mission.

They manufacture eco-friendly footwear, apparel, even sports balls. As the brand name implies, they regard ethics highly and make it central to their operations.

The Shoe Collection

Etiko’s vegan shoe collection is mostly composed of sneakers and flats. They have fairly simple styles that are perfect for your everyday shoe.

Their lowcut sneaker in black and white is a classic sneaker that you can wear comfortably for your errand days when you’ll need to use your feet a lot. The same style is also available in red, blue, all black, and olive.

If you prefer high tops, there are also good options available in Etiko’s selection.

If you already have your own pair of black and white sneakers, then you might be interested in the olive green ones. The dark, earthy tone gives it an extra touch, but it still retains the classic sneaker look.

Sure, sneakers aren’t the most fashion-forward, but they are perfect in nearly every casual setting. Plus, they’re super comfortable! If you want more suggestions on great sneakers, check out our guide on the best eco-conscious vegan sneakers.

Materials

These shoes have no animal products in them and are 100% vegan. This vegan footwear brand only uses cotton that is certified organic and Fair Trade.

Making shoes with organic cotton compared to traditionally produced cotton is a good thing. It does not depend on toxic chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) to grow [1] and takes much less water to cultivate.

The company estimates that they save about 91% water and 62% of energy demand by using organic components.

Meanwhile, the soles are made from FSC certified rubber. The FSC certification helps assure that their rubber was sourced sustainably. Given that natural rubber harvesting is one of the major causes of deforestation [2], it’s great that they make their effort clear.

In addition to that, their shoes are also REACH compliant, thus ensuring that no harmful chemicals were used during production.

In theory, the entire shoe could be compostable if you don’t count the plastic at the end of the shoelaces. They’re still working on how this works in practice, but we’re hopeful about the results.

From all of that information, it is clear that Etiko has a special focus on sustainability. When you buy your vegan shoes from them, you won’t have to worry about unethical components throughout the supply chain.

For packaging, they use FSC certified cardboard and paper. However, be aware that they still have some plastic components in the packaging. If you’d like to understand it all about what makes the most eco friendly packaging taking into account the life cycle of materials, take a look here.

Brand Values

Etiko follows a fair trade purchasing model. Doing this enables them to support communities, especially those that have been long exploited by big brands. Each purchase from them will help with inequality and poverty throughout the communities in their supply chain.

Their shoes are made in Sri Lanka, where they pay partner factories social and fair trade premiums. It is always good to remember that a vegan lifestyle is rooted in avoiding cruelty. Let’s not forget that human beings are part of that equation too.

You can read more about their impact here.

Beyond that, they also have a Take Back program. Customers have the option to send their worn-out shoes in for recycling in exchange for a $10 coupon. This initiative is in partnership with Save our Soles and is a good first step toward closing the loop.

Ethletic - Germany

Ethletic vegan shoes
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image by ethletic.com

Fair, vegan, and sustainable, Ethletic is an award-winning sneaker brand. What started as a venture to create ethically manufactured soccer balls has now turned into one of the best vegan shoe brands today.

They were the first to get their natural rubber certified by the FSC, setting a precedent for future brands.

The Shoe Collection

Much of Ethletic’s collection is composed of sneakers of varying styles and designs. Our personal favorite from their selection is Randall II.

It’s a simple, streamlined sneaker design that comes in 14 different colors and styles. This vegan shoe is just perfect for casual everyday use.

Your choice is completely up to personal preference, but we love it in the more neutral colors like frozen olive and pewter grey. But they are also available in brighter hues.

It’s also available in patterns, like this one in fishbone navy.

This vegan shoe is intended for skating, and they’re constantly updating and developing the model. Skate shoes have to be really durable and serve certain functions well, like protection and grip, so extra attention to those features is important.

Read our article on vegan skate shoes for more suggestions on high-quality vegan skates.

Materials

Their shoe components are one of the aspects where this brand shines the most. They use natural materials sourced with a focus on environmental sustainability.

The canvas uppers are made of organic twill cotton from small farmers, and all of their cottons come from Fair Trade sources.

It has a removable antibacterial insole crafted from coconut fibers. Meanwhile, the outsole is made of FSC-certified rubber from Sri Lanka.

The Fair Trade governing body ensures that additional premiums are paid to suppliers at every part of the supply chain. All these steps require added premiums that many vegan shoe brands are not willing to make, so it’s definitely a plus for Ethletic.

Moreover, all of their shoes are made using only sustainable sources. This means that they source from locations that can stay sustainable, both economically and environmentally, for generations yet.

This broad view of sustainability helps us understand that by buying sustainably, we are also helping communities that have been exploited and underpaid for their resources.

You may also view the complete value-added chain here for additional information on how their bio-based materials are processed.

Brand Values

From what we’ve covered so far regarding materials, it’s already clear that Ethletic takes the vegan clothing and accessories philosophy to an extra level. They manufacture responsibly and consciously, not only component-wise but labor-wise as well.

They pay a portion of each sale toward the welfare society managed by employees in their production facility. The money goes to healthcare, pensions, and education.

All shoes are made fair trade in Pakistan, and you can even see their factory workers here. The best part about it all is that you have the option to tip whoever made your shoes!

It’s worth pointing out that the money is still managed by Ethletic, so the money does not directly go to the worker. All of it, however, is spent towards supporting garment workers.

They also advocate for repairing shoes instead of just chucking them in the trash. They will even subsidize repairs to extend the life of the shoes.

Overall, Ethletic is an excellent brand. They have ethical factories, use sustainable resources, give back to the community, and it’s very clear that their practices are rooted in care and consideration.

Sydney Brown - USA

Sydney Brown vegan shoes
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image by sydney-brown.com

Sydney Brown is a New York-based brand that makes vegan shoes and accessories. They believe that luxury items can also be environmentally-friendly, and that respect for life is crucial in design.

They are PETA-approved vegan and take a holistic and respectful approach in designing their products.

The Shoe Collection

The company has a wide selection of different styles. They have boots, sandals, heels, sneakers, and more. Their designs are unique and super stylish and can easily take even a simple outfit to the next level.

Our personal pick is their Low Ankle Bootie in beige. It’s also available in other colors like black, rose, and white, but the beige is just a perfect match with the wooden heel. Plus, it’s relatively easy to style as well.

These vegan shoes come true to size and have a 5 cm heel. If you prefer a higher heel, check out their High Ankle Boot in Black. If you aren’t looking for heels, no problem. They also have casual sneakers and sandals in their collection.

Their clogs are also super cute and come in black and rose. You can check out our article on vegan clogs for more details.

However, if you’re looking for a vegan shoe on a budget, this brand might not be for you. These are luxury vegan footwear, and the prices are higher than average.

Materials

The brand uses many materials to make each vegan shoe. You can see a general composition of their shoes here, though those aren’t applicable to all shoes.

The boot’s uppers are made from faux-Nappa, which is derived from natural renewable materials like grains and vegetable seeds. It also has an absorbent and breathable microfiber lining made from recycled materials.

The wood in the heels is from PEFC-certified beech wood sustainably sourced in Germany. Expect some variations in tone as the wood is a natural material.

The insoles are crafted from cork, while the outsoles are made of natural rubber. They harvest their cork sustainably in Portugal. And as always, no animal glues were used in making these shoes.

Sydney Brown makes a good attempt at using sustainable materials as much as possible. Though they still have synthetics, they try to make them from recycled sources where they can.

Brand Values

The brand has a solid set of values that they abide by in every part of the production process. They have vegan shoes, yes. But these shoes are also made with consideration of the environment and the people.

As we said, we love to see shoe brands stray away from the usual narrative of profit alone without ethical consideration. This is especially true for luxury shoes, where exotic skins are still common—even prized.

Each vegan shoe in their collection is made in Porto, Portugal, under ethical working conditions and fair labor practices.

The company has also introduced a closed-loop recycling program. This gives customers the option to return their shoes, and the company will be responsible for recycling them into a new product.

We love this concept of extended producer responsibility as it encourages not just action on the consumer side but also on those who make the products. Customers who return their products for recycling will get a 20% discount on their next purchase.

Bhava -USA

Bhava vegan shoes
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image by bhava.com
Bhava is a New York-based women’s footwear brand. They provide all-day comfort with their styles made for traversing rough urban terrain. They only use the finest quality materials—artisan, organic, natural, and most of all, all cruelty-free.

The Shoe Collection

Bhava has a pretty wide collection of vegan shoes. Flats, heels, clogs, sandals, boots, and so much more! They’ve got a pair for nearly every occasion.

For this brand, let’s take a bit of a break from sneaks and sandals and talk about boots! Bhava is one of those vegan shoe brands that have a lot of varying products, but all are executed wonderfully.

Our personal pick from this shop is the Editor Ankle Bootie. You can get it in black, natural, and tan snake, but we love it the most in its ivory (natural) shade.

The 2-inch heel is perfect for those who like to do a lot of walking. Though this pair is heeled, it stays comfortable throughout use, and you probably won’t even notice you’re wearing heels!

It’s also pretty versatile, and you can dress it up as easily as you can wear it casually. The Editor is the epitome is stylish and classy without looking too stern.

If knee-high boots are your style, you can also get a separate attachment and transform this ankle bootie into a full-length boot that goes up to the knees.

Materials

These boots are made from Italian vegan leather. Sadly, they don’t elaborate further on what this vegan leather is made of. However, we do know that it doesn’t have any PVC, azo-dyes, or chrome.

If you want to know more about the different kinds of faux leather, head on over to our informative article on vegan leather.

These shoes also have a vegan suede lining as well as soft cork insoles to cushion impact. The cork in the footbed really helps keep these boots comfortable throughout the day. This pair has wooden heels, and the hardware for the zips was sourced in Europe.

It’s worth pointing out that each Bhava product is rigorously tested on the urban terrain of NYC. This allows the brand to give their customers assurance that their shoes will last and stand the test of time and wear.

Brand Values

Bhava has a mission of going against the grain and protecting those who have been victims of the fashion sector as it stands today.

To them, the four victims are animals, the environment, people, and the buyer. Being a vegan fashion brand, Bhava aims to be cruelty-free their operations, in whatever form cruelty may take.

This means paying their workers fair wages and letting them work only in excellent working conditions. Worker health is a top concern for this brand, and their practices should reflect that.

The boots we featured were handcrafted in Spain using a mix of traditional and technology-based methods.

Mesa - USA

Mesa vegan shoes
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image by mesashoes.com

Mesa is a Los Angeles-based eco-luxe footwear brand. They specialize in making sandals that are animal-free with an added focus on sustainability.

They are a very small woman-owned brand making their products in small batches to ensure quality and exquisite craftsmanship.

The Shoe Collection

There only two designs in their selection as of the moment. Remember, they’re a pretty small brand right now, so it’s only sensible that they’ve still got limited items.

But they are super pretty and come in lovely, indulgent colors. If you’re looking to add a bit of color to your wardrobe, their vegan shoes are definitely a good place to start.

The collection brings fresh color without being too challenging to style. We love Octavia in light blue. It’s a nice soft baby blue that’ll help elevate your look without it being the focal point of the entire outfit.

It’s an open-toe sandal with a 2-inch heel. The detailing on the heel s a pretty good touch and adds more personality to the shoe. The footbed has a bit of padding to help with comfort. Do note that this size runs small, so you should size up when buying.

Materials

This pair of vegan shoes are made from synthetic materials in the uppers. Mesa uses a microsuede material crafted from materials such as recycled polyester and post-industrial PET.

Their choice of using recycled items to make their vegan leather is a good choice! It uses fewer resources, and there won’t be any virgin components involved.

However, we do maintain that recycled does not always equate to eco-friendly. As you’re shopping for vegan shoes, it can be easy to let the recycled label make you feel like it’s automatically sustainable. But we’ve learned that sustainability is much more complex than that.

In this case, though, we can see that Mesa is picking out durable materials that will suit their products best. Once they grow, it’ll be easier for them to explore more sustainable choices.

The wood for the heels, on the other hand, is made from reclaimed wood and has a man-made synthetic outsole.

Brand Values

Mesa is still a very new brand, but they have a commitment to ethical production. Their pieces are made locally in Los Angeles in small batches.

They work with local artisans and pay them fair wages. The brand believes in supporting craftsmanship and using ethical business practices throughout their operations.

Mesa has yet to grow, but we’re already liking the direction they’re going in.

Why Vegan Footwear Matters

vegan sneakers
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It can be very easy to ignore the impact of your shoes on the planet and all that is in it. After all, most shoes are made to be aesthetically appealing as much as they are functional, and it’s easy to bury impact under visual value.

But your shoes actually have a significant effect on the environment, animals, and the people making your shoes.

To start, the fashion industry (shoes included) can be very environmentally degrading. You’d be surprised at how harmful all the dyes and chemicals involved in processing textiles can be. Not to mention the industry’s notoriety for labor abuse.

Leather and all its variations, for example, is one of the most beloved materials when it comes to making footwear. And even if you don’t consider the fact that it’s made from animal skin, there’s still a lot of undesirable processes that go on behind the scenes.

Processing leather often involves using chrome and other dangerous chemicals. This process harms both the environment and the workers involved—who, in many places, are left without protective equipment.

Beyond the idea of not using animals, vegan products are frequently made with a conscious and ethical mindset. While this is not applicable to all brands, it is much easier to find overall ethical options from vegan brands.

If you want to practice more ethical consumption, choosing vegan options in your footwear is a good start.

The Best Vegan Materials

There are tons of vegan materials used in footwear. And not all of them are good. Here is the general rule of thumb we follow:

  • Plant-based textiles/fabrics
  • Recycled synthetics
  • Synthetics that are sustainably sourced

Ideally, the best vegan shoes should be made of sustainably sourced plant-based components. But the current reality is less than ideal.

hemp
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There a ton of shoe variations out there, and not all plant-based materials suit the function of the shoe. Hemp or organic cotton, for example, may be incredibly versatile textiles, but you wouldn’t really use them for combat boots would you?

Thus, the next best option would be strong, high-quality synthetics. These are usually microfibers. Though they vary in make and durability, microfiber is highly regarded as a very strong material.

If possible, we encourage you to find vegan shoes that use recycled components. While recycling should not be the solution for everything, it’s still a good place to start if you are looking for shoes that need to be made with synthetics.

If you can’t, some synthetics can be viable vegan options. But you should consider their overall impact and whether the product is worth it (e.g., is it durable? comfortable? timeless? etc.).

However, you should avoid some faux leathers like PVC and low-quality PU as they are almost never worth it. You may also check out our guides on vegan leather brands and vegan fabrics for additional information.

Put simply; the best vegan materials depend on the function of the shoe and your personal use of it. There aren’t any hard rules on what the best is, and it’s okay to be constantly learning from these complex topics.

Final Thoughts

We know that it isn’t always easy to find vegan footwear that is also made with sustainable materials, so we hope you enjoyed scrolling through this list of vegan and sustainable shoes!

Each vegan footwear brand on this list was specifically selected for its good practices and excellent quality that will transcend trends and years of wear.

As you are looking for more options, we hope you keep in mind the ethical aspect of production and choose shoe brands that not only respect animals but the earth and people as well.

Resources:
  1. https://textileexchange.org/quick-guide-to-organic-cotton/
  2. https://www.fern.org/publications-insight/eu-consumption-of-rubber-and-deforestation-31/
Sydney Brown vegan shoes
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