I had a conversation with a friend where she mentioned that the things one should 100% invest in if they can are a mattress and shoes. Why? They're two things we spend the most time in. I completely agree and have been putting a conscious effort into investing in shoes from sustainable brands that are not only stylish but will also retain their quality and last for years. We've already given you the digital download on the best sustainable brands, from swimwear to dresses, so it only makes sense to move into the footwear department since it's something so integral to our wardrobes (and lives).
Since shoes are something we wear so often, it's important to think about quality vs. quantity. I'm someone who rotates between the same five pairs of shoes, so I'm trying my best to keep the pairs I buy to ones that'll last me a long time. This isn't to say I'm perfect—it can be pretty much impossible to shop 100% sustainable. But if it's in your means, there's only good in making small changes wherever possible. Plus, you'll support a small and sustainable business along the way. If you're looking to invest in a new pair of shoes anytime soon, consider the brands below.
A simple look at Veja's site shows that the brand makes an effort to be transparent about the process that goes into making its widely coveted sneakers. The brand doesn't just use organic and fair-trade raw materials. It is also constantly vetting its process (and partners' processes) to make sure there is no harmful use of chemicals or an environmental impact it can't lessen.
Alohas uses a pre-order system to accurately anticipate demand since overproduction is often a huge flaw in the fashion industry. The brand also uses certified local production to reduce its carbon footprint, and there's an option when you order to donate to different environmental projects.
Brother Vellies was founded with the goal of keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. The brand also includes vegetable-tanned leathers, soling from recycled tires, and floral-sourced dyes within its designs. Products' value is assigned based on materials and fair labor practices, which are unaffected by the traditional commercial consumption cycle.
Dear Frances brings luxury shoes with a clear effort to slow the fashion cycle down, creating classic styles for the everyday modern woman. The brand works closely with artisan Italian shoemakers—the same team since the beginning—where they both align on the celebration of craftsmanship and ethical production practices.
Paloma Wool prides itself on local production, even giving information on its site about how far each manufacturing location is from the studio. The brand also operates on limited drops, which helps to decrease overproduction in its business model.
Teva has been around for a long time, and the brand has made strides where it comes to improving its sustainable practices. It has begun heavily incorporating recycled and renewable materials into its shoes, even starting TevaForever, which is a program where customers can send in their old sandals to be recycled.
It's hard to find brands that commit to local production in the U.S., but Ma'am uses manufacturing in Los Angeles, working with production facilities that pay fair wages, reduce waste from the manufacturing cycle, and provide a healthy working environment. The brand limits international cargo shipping by working exclusively with its L.A.-based factory and even makes small changes in deliveries, like taking out the box-in-a-box shipping.