If you want to build a more ethical wardrobe, shoes are a great place to start. The footwear industry has long been plagued with pollution, child labor, and poor working conditions. But many brands are hoping to turn this around by offering beautiful, sustainable, and fairly-made shoes.
Today, I’ve curated a selection of ethical boots, heels, and sneakers that are perfect for fall. I’ve also included some discount links, so you can shop ethical without breaking the budget.
So grab your pumpkin spice latte, wrap up in an oversized scarf, and get ready to swoon over autumnal colors and cozy fabrics. I felt in love with so many styles that I divided them up into “work” and “play” categories. But in my opinion, there is no wrong place to wear any of these.
Rothy’s shoes are made of out recycled water bottles, but they certainly don’t look it. These beauties come in a variety of bold colors like persimmon and marigold. They’re also super comfortable, lightweight, and machine washable. I have a pair in black, and I wear them constantly from spring to fall. Rothy’s also just started making loafers and sneakers, so they can creep into your winter wardrobe too.
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ABLE is a brand built around empowering women. Their goal is to end generational poverty by employing at-risk women in Ethiopia, Peru, Mexico, and America. They also publish their wages and advocate for more transparency in the fashion industry. Besides their social justice credentials, ABLE also makes insanely cute shoes. I love the preppy charm of these loafer booties. Although I’m a practical brown kind of girl, I fully endorse channeling your inner Elle Woods with the lavender suede.
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If you’re looking for high-quality leather shoes, Nisolo is the place to go. Nisolo works with artisans in Peru and Mexico, blending traditional techniques with modern design. The company promises its artisans above fair-trade wages, healthcare, and a safe working environment. They’re also making strides towards sustainability by offsetting their carbon emissions and recycling shoes. I have a pair of these Chelsea boots, and I am completely obsessed with them. They’re incredibly well made, and add a timeless yet modern touch to every outfit. I get compliments every time I wear them.
Everlane makes high-quality, ethical fashion at affordable prices. They were an early advocate of transparency, breaking down how each of their products was made and priced. Everlane also aims to use sustainable materials and low-pollution production methods. I’m totally smitten with the Editor Heel, which comes in five colors.
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Nisolo’s Smoking Shoe was the first ethical shoe I ever bought, and it continues to be my favorite. I love to wear mine with both skirts and pants when the weather is just a little too chilly for flats. The extra material makes it cozy, and the classic style makes any outfit pop.
I’m on a real indigo kick lately, so when I saw these Rojas Mules in indigo suede, I practically drooled on my keyboard. In case you don’t have strong feelings about indigo shoes, they also come in lavender, cognac, and leopard. I also highly recommend perusing ABLE’s full selection of shoes, because they really nailed it this season.
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1. Liv Boot in Tan • Po-Zu
Based in the UK, Po-Zu offers a wide variety of ethically and sustainably-made shoes. They aim to use natural materials like cork and pineapple fibers, and many of their shoes are vegan. I love this classic but fun Liv Boot, which features chromium-free leather and Harris tweed detail. It also comes in aqua, bronze, and black.
Etiko is an Australian company that makes organic and fair trade shoes. They’re a great ethical alternative to Converse, and are comparable in price. I think these olive sneakers are the perfect statement for fall, with a slight rocker flair. They also come in hightop and a variety of other colors.
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Allbirds makes shoes from natural, sustainable, and recycled materials. With all the innovation you’d expect from a San Francisco start-up, they’ve even figured out how to make soles from sugarcane. These wool runners look like the perfect shoe for pumpkin-patch wandering. They come in ten cozy colors.
Everyone needs a good fall rainboot, and Alice + Whittles has got them. They use ethically-harvested rubber from Sri Lanka, and go the extra mile to ensure their supply chain is clean and fair. Their core collection features minimalistic rain boots in mostly muted hues, but they have some beautiful colors coming soon.
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Scandinavia has a special place in my heart, and Swedish Hasbeens makes the perfect Nordic footwear. Their shoes are made by hand using natural and sustainable materials. Although best known for their wooden sandals and clogs, Swedish Hasbeens also has a great selection of funky, colorful, and often sky-high boots.
Want to see more ethical shoes? Check out my top picks for summer.
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