We all love sneakers from the established, big manufacturers. But let's not kid ourselves, the conventional fast fashion shoe industry has a negative impact on us and our environment, so green-washing by individual models or eco-labels doesn't help either.
The industry is the world's largest processor of leather, where large areas of rainforest are cleared for livestock. In addition, the industry generated almost as much CO2 in 2019 as the whole of Germany. And not to mention pollutants used, chrome tanning, inhumane working conditions in the production countries and many more.
In this guide we present you the best and most beautiful 15 alternatives to conventional sneaker manufacturers. All of them sustainable fair fashion brands and sustainable sneaker labels with a serious sustainability strategy as well as stylish, street-ready, natural, vegan and eco-friendly products from fair production - from A-Z! Sustainable and fair sneakers - the new generation of sneaker shoes! Have fun with the sustainable sneaker overview! By the way, by clicking on the pictures you will get to the products!
The 100% vegan shoe label Bahatika produces sneakers, sandals and boots fair in Europe and comes from Vienna. Austria. The shoes are handmade in a small family business in Spain, where the materials also come from.
Only materials that are free of animal ingredients are used. As an alternative for leather, the label uses an imitation leather that is water-repellent and breathable. The adhesive is water-based.
The shoes are also made fairly without exploitation of animals and humans. The sneakers are elegant, chic and suitable for all occasions at leisure and work. Besides the great styling, the shoes are very comfortable with a high wearing comfort all day long. For every sneaker sold, a tree is planted in collaboration with ONE TREE PLANTED.
A great Kickstarter founder story! A young Spanish couple learned about the environmental sins of the fashion industry on a trip around the world, jumped into the deep end and started their own sustainable and vegan sneaker label BeFlamboyant. And the result is something to behold! BeFlamboyant is stylish, unisex, PETA approved vegan, OEKO-TEX 100 certified with fresh, individual design and beautiful color accents in the models. Important for the two founders Jorge and Tatiana from Galicia is animal welfare, the environment as well as equality. Materials used include breathable microfiber, organic cotton, recycled P.E.T., rice husks and more! The beautiful sneakers are handmade in Portugal under fair conditions and are very comfortable and roomy to wear, although the impression from the outside is slim fit. For every sneaker sold, another tree is planted in collaboration with ONE TREE PLANTED.
The brand CLAE from Los Angeles is not a sustainable start-up, but a hip sneaker label from California that has been producing sneakers for 20 years and is very much changing into a sustainable label. And since change is often more difficult than a new beginning, it should be appreciated! CLAE, more than any other footwear brand, stands for timeless style, innovation, comfort and design while minimizing their environmental footprint. The vegan sneakers are made using solar and wind energy from renewable sources, 100% recycled water and natural light from recycled P.E.T., recycled polyester and plastics and natural rubber. Since its founding in 2001, production has taken place in a small factory in Vietnam, where the cool brand also builds houses and infrastructure for its employees and the surrounding villages. The strategic focus is currently on the production of vegan and recycled sneaker models, all of which look absolutely stylish and are first-class.
Ecoalf is a sustainable fashion brand from Spain. The company frees the oceans from waste and produces clothes and shoes from it. Both recycled and organic fabrics are used for production, but recycled fabrics are preferred because the negative impact on the environment is much lower. For example, the company uses recycled plastic bottles and car tires, nylon or cotton as materials. In this way, at least 500 tons of marine litter have been collected since 2015 and more than 200 million tons of plastic bottles have been recycled. Through its own foundation, the company is actively involved in ocean upcycling in Spain, Thailand, Greece and Italy. Ecoalf is also the first fashion brand from Spain to receive a B CORP award for social added value and environmental sustainability.
5) ekn footwear
EKN Footwear is a young sustainable and ecological company from Frankfurt, super stylish and sustainable! The production takes place under fair conditions in Portugal and in small quantities. Organic cotton, chrome-free leather (of animal origin), vegan leather, nickel-free eyelets and recycled rubber from old shoes are used. Great care is taken during production and delivery to minimize the ecological footprint and avoid unnecessary environmental impact. Each item is handmade and made from natural materials. Above all, however, the styling, comfort and workmanship stand out with this brand. In addition, the label ekn collaborates with musicians such as Max Herre or Joy Denalane in the development and marketing of the products.
6) Ella & Witt
Ella & Witt is a young sneaker label from Cologne based in Dormagen, Germany, which develops its vegan products with high demands on quality, sustainability, durability and design. The goal is to produce the best possible shoes under ethical aspects that are not only comfortable but also look good. The inspiration for the sustainable label's name comes from a nearby animal sanctuary, where Ella the gander and Schneewittchen the cow, aka Frau Witt, are the leaders of the troupe. The proceeds are used to support grazing animals, among other things. The materials come mostly from renewable resources and are 100% free of animal ingredients and solvents. The stylish sneakers are made in Portugal in small family farms and are PETA-approved vegan.
The story of the Ethletic brand and sneakers is exciting and thrilling. The world's first sneaker on the market to receive the Fair Trade label for fairly traded organic cotton in 2004 came from Ethletic. In addition, as a pioneer of fair trade, the brand was included in its range as an approved supplier by the World Shop Association with its strict criteria in 2010. The organic cotton used is grown by Fairtrade-certified cooperatives in mixed cultivation and the sneakers are then also produced locally in Pakistan, which is a challenge in itself. The natural rubber is FSC®-certified and of course all the sneakers easily come without animal ingredients, meaning they are 100% PETA-approved vegan. And the styling of some models is known worldwide, but just sustainable & fair re-loaded!
8) Flamingos' Life
The Spanish label Flamingos' Life is already better known, mega hip and was founded in 2015 by three friends. They are committed to animal rights, the environment and sustainable business. That's why it's important to them to use sustainable, vegan materials and fair working conditions in the production of their sneakers. The sneakers are produced fairly in Spain, with the workers' wages being 5 times higher than the comparable local average.
When choosing materials, only sustainable raw materials are considered. For example, 100% recycled polyester from already used PET bottles is used, corn waste, cork, bamboo, natural rubber and organic cotton. The inner soles are 100% vegetable, made from cork and natural rubber and therefore 100% biodegradable. The eyelets used on the shoes are REACH certified and lead free. All shoes have been awarded the "PETA approved Vegan" certificate by PETA.
In addition to the sustainable and fair production of the shoes, buying them also does something against deforestation. For every pair of shoes sold, 5 trees are planted in cooperation with "The Eden Project". The sneakers are not only mega stylish in appearance, but also super comfortable and lightweight!
9) Genesis Footwear
The German sneaker label Genesis Footwear combines street fashion, comfort and maximum sustainability and does not compromise. The shoes are made of unconventional, ecological materials and are fairly produced. A portion of the profits are donated to charity to promote greater environmental integrity of fashion and sustainability. The sneakers are super stylish in appearance and very comfortable! Materials used include recycled P.E.T., pineapple leaf fiber, banana leaf fiber, organic cotton, cork, natural rubber, and other recycled plastics. The brand is also pioneering the development of sneakers made from cactus leather, which is not only sustainable but also very soft, sturdy, breathable and durable. Genesis offers sneakers made of chrome-free (but animal) leather that is LWG Gold certified, but also many vegan models, which are then also PETA-approved vegan. They also work a lot with recycled and upcycled materials.
Not only the materials but also the shoes themselves are produced under fair conditions. The final shoe manufacturing takes place in a Chinese factory that guarantees fair working conditions such as a five-day week and equal pay for men and women for their employees and is also BSCI Fairtrade certified. The sneakers are then even shipped to Europe by train, as this is obviously much more environmentally friendly, even if it is slower and more expensive. But, THAT is slow fashion!
The family-owned company Giesswein selects only hand-picked wool qualities according to high ethical and ecological standards. The merino wool products are produced sustainably and without fabric waste in a resource-saving way in Europe using up to 90% recycled water and 100% renewable raw materials. In addition, only high-quality merino wool from small farmers in Uruguay is used for the production of the wool products and, of course, absolutely without the animal-torturing mulesing process. The sneakers are 100% natural, lightweight and comfortable, machine washable and look very stylish at the same time. Merino wool sneakers are also very trendy right now, as evidenced by the success of the Allbirds brand.
11) Humans Are Vain
Humans Are Vain is a Swedish premium vegan brand that combines the latest sustainable materials and innovation methods with timeless design. The sustainable and recycled materials are what set the sustainable footwear label apart. The products are designed to have a circular economy so that all products can be fully recycled at the end of their life. The manufacturing is done in Portugal and Sweden in carefully selected ethical factories. The sneakers are 100% vegan (PETA-approved), OEKO-TEX100 certified free of harmful substances and recyclable according to Global Recycling Standards. In addition, this sneaker label is mega cool with a lot of potential upside! Great styling, very comfortable and durable, first class workmanship like frame stitched.
12) NAE Vegan Shoes
NAE Vegan Shoes is a Portuguese vegan shoe brand that works hard on environmental sustainability, using materials such as cork, organic cotton, pineapple leaf and organic microfibers, and recycled plastic bottles from the oceans. NAE is an acronym for "No Animal Exploitation" - here the brand is also program at the same time. In addition to sustainable and renewable materials and natural raw materials, there is also a strong emphasis on fair working conditions and conservation and environmental friendliness.
The Saye brand (formerly Wado) is a young sustainable sneaker label that, although its first model (Modelo 89) is reminiscent of a major manufacturer, has already built up a decent level of awareness. The stylish sneakers are produced in Portugal and Spain, either from LWG Gold certified leather or completely PETA-approved vegan without animal components. Recycled or upcycled materials such as P.E.T., foams or polyurethane are also used. Organic cotton is used for the laces and currently the stylish sneaker label also produces their sneaker from natural materials like corn waste, mango and bamboo. For every pair of sneakers sold, two additional trees are planted.
14) VEGETARIAN Shoes
The brand VEGETARIAN SHOES from Brighton on the English coast is often called a pioneer or the oldest vegan brand in the world and both are true! The vegan label has been around since 1990! The founder - a Brit - came across a synthetic microfiber by chance, which was mainly used for seat covers on yachts. The robust and breathable material has since been used for production under fair working conditions. Only environmentally friendly and sustainable raw materials are used, the brand is of course 100% vegan, sustainable and the sneakers are more than worth looking at!
French sustainable sneaker brand Veja is the most well-known of all sustainable sneaker labels and deserves credit for opening up the sustainable sneaker market to the mainstream. The label has been around since 2005 and their sneakers are fairly made in Brazil. Often misunderstood because of the name and the V in the logo, Veja is not a purely vegan brand, but predominantly makes sneakers from vegetable-tanned and therefore chrome-free leather. They also use sustainable materials like organic cotton, natural rubber, recycled plastic, and more recently, natural materials like corn waste. Of course, the label's cool styling stands out, which has become very trendy and is increasingly transforming Veja into a hip lifestyle brand.
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