If it’s vegan, it must be eco-friendly… right? Not necessarily.
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions of vegan fashion is that it’s all sustainable. While leather has its fair share of problems, “fake leather” all too often just means that the item is made of synthetic materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which emits toxic pollutants. And it’s shocking to see the number of brands marketing their products as “cruelty-free” who actually have no standards in place for the people manufacturing the products. Cruelty-free must mean ethical standards for the human beings involved in your supply chain, too!
So where can you find a brand with ethical, eco-friendly vegan shoes that are actually fashionable?
While it took a bit of research, there are in fact brands that meet all of these criteria — it looks like we really can have it all!
These eco-friendly vegan brands range in price points, so there is a price key by each brand description.
Price Key: $ = under $100 | $$ = $100 – $200 | $$$ = $200+
Last Updated: February 25, 2021
This post includes partners and affiliates. As always, brands featured meet rigorous standards for sustainability and are brands we truly love — and that we think you’ll love too!
Alice + Whittles creates simple, versatile, and functional outdoor footwear that can take you anywhere. Their eco-friendly vegan boots and sneakers are made using traceable materials like fair trade rubber, reclaimed ocean plastic, and recycled PET. The woman of color-owned brand builds long-term relationships with their suppliers to ensure fair treatment of everyone in their supply chain. [Check out more boots brands in this guide.]
Styles: Rain Boots, Hiking Boots, Sneakers
Thousand Fell’s vegan and sustainable sneakers are made from materials like natural and recycled rubber, coconut husks, sugar cane, palm fibers, and recycled plastic. Beyond creating eco-friendly shoes, Thousand Fell has designed the first recyclable, circular sneaker. When you’ve worn out the sneakers, you can send them back to the brand to be recycled into new Thousand Fell shoes!
Rothy’s has helped divert over 39 million plastic bottles from the landfill by using fabric created from recycled plastic bottles! They also use vegan, recyclable, carbon-free rubber and TPU for the outsoles, safe & vegan adhesives, as well as recycled foam outsoles. Oh, and of course the shoes are super cute and comfy. [Check out more flats in this guide.]
Styles: Flats, Loafers, Sandals, Sneakers
Saola has fashionable, eco-friendly vegan shoes made from recycled, organic, and bio-based materials. It can be really difficult to find eco-conscious and functional sneakers, but Saola meets all of these standards. The sneaker uppers are made from recycled PET from plastic bottles and the insoles are made from natural cork and recycled PU.
Styles: Sneakers, Slip-Ons
Jo-Anne Vernay creates luxury vegan shoes made from Piñatex, a fabric created out of discarded pineapple leaves! This new Black-owned brand now has their Mel Heels available for pre-order in a reddish-orange “Paprika” color and a medium-brown neutral hue called “cognac”. I absolutely adore the back detailing on these eco-friendly vegan heels!
While these sneakers may look strikingly similar to another popular shoe brand, Etiko is very different. Etiko is a B-Corp Certified company with shoes made in Fair Trade certified factories from GOTS- and Fair Trade certified organic cotton.
The Australian brand also has a take-back program where you can send back your worn Etiko sneakers! [Check out this guide for more eco-friendly sneakers.]
Styles: Sneakers, Flats
7. VEJA (Vegan Options)
Organic, Fair Trade brand VEJA is not a completely vegan footwear brand, but there are many animal-free options to choose from in their collections. My favorite vegan shoes from the brand are their WATA canvas sneakers—I bought a pair in black and white last year and still absolutely love them!
The ethical brand uses eco-conscious fabrics such as recycled and organic cotton, recycled plastic bottles, and sustainably harvested wild rubber. Despite using green materials and paying their workers a fair price, the company has managed to keep costs down to prices comparable with other sneaker brands by choosing to not advertise.
Looking at these chic shoes, you may not be able to believe what they’re made from! Verdura takes recycled fish nets (washes them a few times to soften the fabric for comfort) and dyes them naturally to produce their designer shoes.
Not to forget any detail, the inner construction of Verdura’s vegan shoes are also eco-conscious. The insoles are made from cork and the soles are either made from recycled rubber or recycled, vegetable-tanned leather. [Check out more sandal brands in this guide.]
Styles: Sandals, Boots
Eco-minded fashion brand Ecoalf creates eco-friendly vegan shoes made from recycled and low-impact animal-free materials. Their cruelty-free shoes don’t have any leather — the brand completely stopped using leather in its collections three years ago. Ecoalf produces their shoes with materials like recycled tires, recycled rubber, and recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. Many of their shoes are made with a percentage of virgin synthetic fabrics.
Styles: Sneakers, Sandals, Flip Flops
10. Nae Vegan
Standing for No Animal Exploitation, Nae is a Portugese brand committed to completely vegan footwear. The animal-friendly company is also conscious of the human side of production, working only with ethical, certified factories in Portugal.
To minimize environmental impact, Nae uses a variety of ecological materials. They use cork sourced from protected cork oak trees, Piñatex textiles, as well as recycled fabrics from plastic bottles and airbags.
Styles: Heels, Flats, Sandals, Boots, Sneakers
Vegan shoe brand Veerah is a certified B-Corporation, meaning they have met certain criteria that demonstrate their positive impacts on society and the environment.
Some of the innovative, conscious materials used in their collections include organic cotton lining, cork, apple peel skin, and PET from recycled plastic bottles. The most eco-friendly option on their site is these ultra-chic heels made from apple peels.
Styles: Heels, Flats
Creating fair trade and eco-friendly vegan shoes, Ethletic is a leading ethical footwear brand that has been certified by numerous third-party auditors. The ethical shoe label sources natural, FSC-certified rubber and Fair Trade certified, organic cotton for their sneakers.
And, Ethletic pays a 15% social premium for their employees to use towards community development projects.
Indosole is a certified B Corporation with wearable, affordable sustainable shoes. In order to receive this seal, the company had to pass rigorous standards for transparency, ethics and environmental impact.
The brand uses upcycled rubber from tires headed to the landfill for the soles of their shoes. (It’s estimated that one billion tires get tossed every single year.) For the uppers of their sandals and slip-on shoes, Indosole uses organic canvas, banana leaves and grass.
Styles: Sandals, Slides, Flip-Flops
RAFA is a luxury footwear label with eco-friendly vegan shoes committed to local craftsmanship — all of their shoes are designed and handcrafted by artisans in Los Angeles. The slow fashion brand takes a conscious approach to design and production by creating timeless, wearable, and durable shoes.
The LA brand’s ultra-chic shoes are handmade from vegan recycled textiles and deadstock metal buckles.
Styles: Sandals, Boots, Heels
Po-Zu makes sustainable vegan shoes from low impact materials. The brand uses materials like organic cotton, linen, cork, Piñatex, natural rubber, and coconut husks for their sneakers, boots, and other footwear.
The shoes are made in vetted factories in Portugal and Sri Lanka that follow strict standards for social and ecological responsibility.
Styles: Sneakers, Boots
This shop is a hub for vegan shoes, from hiking boots and booties to heels and dress shoes. Will’s Vegan Store uses a bio-based vegan leather made from cereal crops grown in northern Europe. They also use “Ecolabel certified vegan leathers and suedes”, though it’s not clear what these materials are made from.
All of the brand’s vegan shoes are made responsibly in Italy and Portugal.
Styles: Boots, Heels, Oxfords, Loafers, Ballet Flats, Sandals, Espadrilles, Sneakers, Clogs
Price: $ – $$