A Guide to Ethical Women’s Shoes

Ethical Womens Shoes Guide | Curiously Conscious

Something I’m routinely asked is where I source my ethical women’s shoes from. In all honesty, sustainable shoes are hard to find, even when you live, breathe, and dream about ethical fashion.

I believe it has something to do with the intricacy of shoemaking – it strikes me as far easier to create an organic cotton t-shirt than the soles, insoles, outers, and buckles of a pair of shoes. Correct me if I’m wrong though!

So, in order to redress the balance, I’ve decided to put together a quick guide to the best brands providing ethical shoes in the UK.

My Own Shoe Collection

I have a surprisingly small collection of shoes. Comprising of eight pairs of women’s shoes, I have: black Chelsea boots, black stilettos, black vegan Dr Martens, low-top white casual trainers, black sports trainers, leopard-print flats, silver sandals, and white flip-flops.

For my basics, I’ve had these for years – my stilettos barely leave the box. My Chelsea boots are a H&M rip-off of Acne’s signature boots that I wear almost every day, so while they might not be ethically made, by looking after them I’ve treated them as ethically as possible.

My truly ethical shoes are my silver Matt & Nat sandals that I treated myself to two years ago, and my second-hand leopard-print flats are my newest addition – I wore them in just last week!

And coming from the old-world cobbling capital of the UK, Northamptonshire, I also have to give a shoutout to Dr Martens, who produce a vegan version of their trademark boots, and still have a warehouse in the area. Mine are three years-old and still going strong!

EDIT: I have now shared my sustainable shoe collection for you to see!

Ethical Women’s Shoes Brands in UK

So, here’s my list of ethical shoe brands available in the UK. Please do note that the brands I’ve listed all serve the UK, but may source their shoes, materials or production elsewhere. Please check with the supplier if you want to know more about their supply chain!

Beyond Skin: Vegan shoes that are cute, cool, glitzy and glamourous.

Bourgeois Boheme: Vegan footwear across flats, heels and boots.

Converse Renew*: Typical hi-top and low-top styles made from waste materials

Dr Martens*: I’m referring to their vegan leather range, which I own and love. Read my review!

Gather & See: Ethical footwear brands from around the world, stocked in the UK.

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather*: As the name says, all their boots and sneakers are vegan leather, designed in France and made in Portugal.

Good News*: Streetwear sneakers that care about people and planet. Their motto: ‘giving back, one step at a time’

Green Shoes: Ready-to-wear and made-to-order ethically made, with a vegan range.

Hooves: Vegan leather and vegan suede desert boots.

Juta Shoes: Espadrilles made from reclaimed materials that help women get into work.

NAK Shoes: Cruelty-free vegan shoes with a signature black style spanning heels, boots and more.

OFKT*: Classic leather brogues reinterpreted in contemporary styles, made in the UK.

Po-Zu*: Scandi sneakers, heeled sandals, and even Star Wars themed shoes.

Rockfish*: Natural rubber wellingtons made in the UK, stocked by Fat Face.

Rose Rankin*: Glitzy sneakers and boots, designed and made in the UK.

Veja*: French brand producing leather and vegan ethical sneakers in Spain.

Waves: Natural rubber flip-flops made in Sri Lanka, with plastic-free packaging.

Will’s Vegan Shoes: Beautiful brogues, Chelsea boots, trainers and more – all PETA-approved.

Zou Xou: Classic, covetable styles of shoes, consciously made in Argentina with worldwide shipping.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links (denoted with '*').

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26 Comments

  1. Esther
    July 9, 2020 / 6:19 pm

    One year ago I decided to just buy eco-friendly clothes and footwear. I bought a sneaker from po-zu. Really happy. I have been trying to buy classic loafers (thanks for the review of MAT and NAt, I almost buy from them). Under your experience, a brand where I can buy classic eco-friendly loafers? thanks

    • besma
      Author
      July 10, 2020 / 11:46 am

      Hi Esther, thanks for the comment – great to hear you love your Po-Zus! For loafers, I would recommend checking out Bourgeois Boheme or Will’s Vegan Shoes, both use vegan leather (although there are differences between the two brands, and price ranges too). You may also wish to check out Oxfam’s Online Shop*, where I’ve picked up great second-hand shoes from before too.

      B x

  2. Andi
    March 31, 2020 / 3:00 pm

    Hey Besma, thanks to bringing ethical footwear to my attention. I have just found Waves Flip Flops, 100% natural rubber from Sri Lanka so polyurethane free and their website says that they are fair trade so have just bought a pair. Just done my little bit this year and for the oceans!

    • besma
      Author
      March 31, 2020 / 3:43 pm

      Amazing! So glad I could point you in the right direction Andi – I have a pair for when I go swimming and they’re great!

      B x

  3. March 13, 2020 / 12:46 pm

    Wonderful guide.Thanks for sharing the article.Keep up the good work.

    • besma
      Author
      March 13, 2020 / 4:44 pm

      Thanks Shweta, I certainly will do!

      B x

  4. Alex
    September 15, 2019 / 8:49 am

    Hello. Vgrrat lista, Thank you. Just wanted to rectify something, Veja is not a Spanish brand but French.

    • September 16, 2019 / 11:09 am

      Thank you Alex! Now changed – I always mistakenly associate them with Spain because they make the shoes there.

      B x

  5. Jenny
    May 30, 2019 / 10:41 am

    Hi, I wear flats a lot for work – ballet style and/or pointed – and would love some washable ones like Rothys, but can’t seem to find that sort of thing here in the UK. Any ideas please?

    • May 30, 2019 / 10:56 am

      Hi Jenny, thanks for the comment. I’d not heard of Rothys until now – the shoes look great! Unfortunately I’ve also not seen anything like them before, UK-made or otherwise. I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if I do x

  6. Sara
    February 13, 2019 / 11:08 am

    Which is the best brand for sports shoes?

    • February 13, 2019 / 4:05 pm

      Great question Sara – while Po-Zu and Veja both offer ethical sneakers, neither are designed with sport in mind. I know that Adidas partnered with Parley to create recycled plastic sports trainers, which might be worth looking into. Otherwise, Patagonia may have the type of shoe you’re looking for x

  7. Hollie
    October 11, 2018 / 5:08 pm

    Thank you for this guide! Do you have any suggestions for loafers / office appropriate shoes that are under £200? I’m struggling to find suitable options that are available in the UK!

    • October 15, 2018 / 3:56 pm

      Hi Hollie, my pleasure! That’s a great question, especially as I was doing the same a few months ago! If you’re looking for first-hand, I would try Everlane, Matt & Nat, or my favourite wishlist place OFKT on Etsy.

      Otherwise, try Oxfam Online – I picked up a pair of lace-up flats à la Alexa Chung a little while ago for only £12! You can see them in this post.

      B x

      • Kay
        September 11, 2019 / 1:01 pm

        Please can someone help me re socofy shoes. I got some for my birthday. But I have read concerns that shoes from China can be produced from pet leather. An email would mean alot. As I’m quite confused… Blessings Kay

        • September 12, 2019 / 5:43 pm

          Hi Kay, thanks for the comment. I’ve not heard of Socofy shoes but it looks like they’re made from cow’s leather predominantly, not sure where in the world they’re made. It may be worth contacting them directly. I hope that helps!

          B x

  8. Ellie
    September 23, 2018 / 6:55 pm

    Pics please! (Of your shoe collection) Intrigued

    • October 1, 2018 / 8:14 pm

      That’s a great idea! I’ll have to do a post in the near future.

      B x

  9. Loretta
    August 24, 2018 / 6:46 am

    Thanks to the wonderful guide

    • August 24, 2018 / 1:57 pm

      My pleasure Loretta!

  10. Johanna
    August 19, 2018 / 9:14 am

    Do you have any recommendations for cosy slippers that are ethical and vegan?

    • August 20, 2018 / 9:31 pm

      Hi Johanna, that’s a great question! I am currently wearing a pair of linen slippers from Muji, which have lasted me just over 12 months now. Materials-wise they’re great, however they are made in China.

      I’ll certainly keep an eye out for any others too! x

      • November 14, 2019 / 5:34 pm

        I’m also interested to hear recommendations in this category

        • November 14, 2019 / 8:21 pm

          Will have to get on an ethical slippers guide pronto!

          B x

  11. February 20, 2018 / 10:35 am

    I agree with you Besma, I think finding ethical shoes really can be a challenge! Especially if you’re picky, or you have awkwardly sized feet.

    I’ve looked in charity shops many times, but there is rarely shoes in my size. If on the odd occasion a pair does appear, they’re usually not to my taste, which is always a shame.

    I suppose this is why you should always invest in options that will last, and also take care of your shoes to they can go the extra mile (haha).

    Out of your shoes, which is your favourite pair Besma?

    • February 20, 2018 / 10:45 am

      You’re so right Emma – I’ve only ever bought my leopard-print flats from a charity shop, and they took me a long time to find!

      My favourite pair has to be my Chelsea boots, and they’ve lasted a long time now. I’m thinking of asking for a new pair for my birthday, as ethical shoes really are an investment – but I know I’ll wear them pretty much every day!

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