Gear and Tech
22 Fashionable & Eco-Friendly Shoe Brands You Should Travel With
By Rachel George
When it comes to footwear, most people are thinking about style and comfort. However, there’s that extra special group of people who prefer to only wear eco-friendly shoes that are made from sustainable materials like handcrafted leather, seaweed, rubber, recycled plastic water bottles, etc.
Most eco-friendly footwear is designed for comfort and style just like classic shoe brands. Get caught in the airport in one of these fashionable, eco-friendly shoe brands.
The People’s Movement advocates for a clean environment and a clean design using plastic bags to make their eco-hip, nickel-free shoes and accessories. The Pisces shoe has a smooth leather design, wax treated laces and comes with an ultra-comfy memory foam insole.
Customers love the color, cool design, and quality of shoes from El Naturalista. This brand has vegan options and helps reduce the consumption of chemicals, water, gas, chemicals, and electricity. I find the sandals to be more appealing than the boots but the boots are made with premium wool and waterproof lambskin and come in handy when it’s time to keep your feet warm during the winter.
Regarded at the most comfortable shoe in the sneaker world, Allbirds invented their own yarn that met their standard of comfort and sustainability. Their signature shoe, Trino, is made from harvested eucalyptus tree fibers and ZQ Merino wool, one of the world’s leading wool brands. This company also uses other eco-friendly materials, such as recycled cardboard, for their packaging and recycled plastic bottles for the shoelaces.
Nomadic State of Mind
This company got its start selling affordable grass-roots sandals at outdoor music festivals throughout the country. The owner sells handmade rope lace sandals, made for secure fitting, and accessories in a variety of styles and colors, some commemorating festivals.
Keds‘ latest campaign shows strength and unity towards generations of fearless women who take on the world every day while wearing some of the most fashionable sneakers. The brand is just as popular now as they were in the 1970s. Basketball legends Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Nate Archibald praised for their comfort.
Available on Amazon, you’ll feel pretty good after purchasing a pair of Saolo shoes. These shoes are made with recycled seaweed and rubber that is 40% lighter than the traditional type. Each pair is also made with organic cotton laces, recycled plastic bottles, harvested algae foam for the insoles, and cork to reduce joint stress. 1% of the proceeds from each purchase go towards the Mwalua Wildlife Trust to raise awareness about Kenya’s wildlife and environment.
These orange-accented boots are perfect for Fall. Designed in Brooklyn and made in Africa, each of their shoes has a vegetable-dyed natural leather insole intended to minimize the harmful effects of chemical dye. Brother Vellies maintains its vintage, ancestral style while creating economic opportunities in South Africa. They also use recycled denim, car tires, and sheepskin from the mountains near Lake Nakuru for their slippers to make what they consider ‘forever shoes.’
Run DMC had everyone styling and profiling while wearing Adidas back in the 80s and people are still rocking them today. The 70-year-old shoe company has created recycled ocean plastic shoes with Parley and featured collaborations with vegan activist and designer Stella McCartney. Business Insider swears the Ultra Boost is the most comfortable running shoe ever and they’re absolutely right.
Vega has designed 24 styles of vegan sneakers to stand the test of time. The company recently launched its first eco-friendly, post-petroleum running shoe, the Condor. The shoes are made in a factory in Brazil that respects workers’ rights. 53% natural-based, made of 100% recycled plastic bottles and natural materials such as rice waste, plant-based oils, sugar cane, natural latex, and wild rubber from Amazonia Forest.
One of the most talked-about shoe brands creates sophisticated styles of perfection in endless colors and patterns. Rothy’s uses their signature thread and sustainable materials such as plastic water bottles, merino wool from a local farm in Australia, and vegan leather outsoles. Another fun fact about the Merino Collection: they’re washable.
Change someone’s life with a pair of latex-free sandals, oxfords, or flats made with leather, a rubber base, and brass buckles from Sseko shoe company. Giving back, the proceeds have helped pay for the education of 131 and counting women in Uganda through grants and scholarships.
Z Shoes are made from ethically sourced cow, goat leather, and amazonian rubber. The Self Love shoe was designed for the #zforshe campaign to promote positivity, self-love, and encourage women. $5 from each pair sold, supports women’s organizations such as Not For Sale, UN Women for Peace Association and World Wide Women.
Creating Teysha shoes takes an eight-step process which includes weaving textiles and soiling leather and hand-sewing it, which takes a mass amount of strength and focus. The shoes are custom-made by local artisans, celebrating the community and craftsmanship in Latin America. Over 20 handcrafted styles of boots, sandals, and flats.
The Root Collective
As seen in Buzzfeed, the Root Collective works with local artisans in Guatemala to create carefully embroidered shoes with bright patterns, unlike any other. Without thinking, the collective has created job opportunities for people in rural Mayan communities, especially women. Their regional dialect affects women’s ability to work since education was not an option for many.
Imagine having made-to-order shoes handcrafted by Ethiopia’s top artisans and delivered right to your door for free. SoleRebels used sustainable materials like inner tube laces, recycled tire soles, hand-spun cotton, and hand-loomed fabrics.
Founder Sven Segal wanted people to know they are getting shoes that were created with love for the people and the planet, using natural materials. The name means ‘pause’ in Japanese, and their mission is to do away with traditional shoe-making, using materials such as cork, chrome-free leather, and natural latex and non-women textile made from pineapple harvest in the Philipines, and vegan options made from leftover apple peels grown in the Italian Alps.
It takes artisans eight hours to make one plain or printed shoe at One 432’s workshop. Most are second-generation shoemakers or have at least 25 years of experience. The ONE432 “Jutti” is a hand-sewn symmetrical shoe with “no left or right” and adapts to each individual’s foot. 50% of the profits are shared with the female artisans and help educate a child in Pakistan, where they are made. The soles are made from high-grade composite rubber, naturally dyed fabric, cotton yarn, and other recycled materials.
Reebok Cotton + Corn
In 2017, Reebok announced the first shoe release from their Cotton + Corn initiative aimed at producing shoes “made from things that grow” like organic cotton, castor bean oil, and a corn-based rubber replacer for the soles. The shoe is cute, casual, sustainable, and comes in neutral earth tones.
Shoe brand Alice + Whittles creates outdoor footwear and accessories using sustainable material like fair trade rubber and ocean plastics, to name a few. This black and white sneaker from their brand is handmade from recycled post-industrial luxury European car seat leather in a family-owned factory in Portugal. It’s lightweight with a contemporary design and comfy enough for everyday wear.
Iconic footwear brand Converse brings recycled goods back to life with their Renew initiative. The collection is made using sustainable materials like upcycled textiles, recycled polyester from used plastic bottles, denim jeans that were diverted from landfills, and manufactured cotton blends. in case you didn’t know, Chuck Taylor All-Stars and Chuck 70s featuring Converse Renew Canvas are both made with recycled PET.
This Brooklyn-based shoe company sells handcrafted shoes made in Italy off the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Each pair is shaped for comfort and takes days to build. Check out their storefront in Soho New York or stop by Nordstrom’s for a pair.
Mohop makes things better by not exploiting people, animals, and the environment, using sustainably-sourced wood from the Midwest. Mohop creators realized they could produce luxury-quality vegan footwear at an affordable price without having to deal with supply chain markups in the US. One had a love for nature, while the other has a passion for sustainability and crafting supportive, comfortable footwear.