18 Ethical Shoes for Summer, From Dressy to Casual

WEST HOLLYWOOD, California - MARCH 24: Shoes are displayed during the partnership celebration between TOMS and Oceana to help save the sea turtles on March 24, 2016 at Au Fudge in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Oceana)
Source: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I think my footsies are ready for a change. They’re tired of trudging around in cheap, uncomfortable shoes that last little more than a few months of steady wear in the heat and muck of summer activity. “Make better choices,” my feet seem to plead.

Alright, feet. You win. I’m ready to put my shoe money to better use. I’m on a mission to find cool, comfy summer shoes for all my warm weather styles. Good quality is a must. And they need to be friggin’ adorable. And while I’m willing to part with a little more change than I’m used to, these kicks can’t break the bank. Oh, and while I’m really thinking about how I spend my money here, I feel like they should probably be ethically produced.

Is that asking too much? Let’s say no. Internet, what do you say?

As it turns out, finding shoes that are both ethically produced and fashionable is easier than I anticipated. A simple search for “ethical footwear” revealed oodles of pages, including blog roundups, brand reviews, and a variety of manufacturers, big and small, from around the globe. The biggest shock, though, was the range of prices. Sadly, many of my favorite ethical shoes were WAY out of my budget. Like, Milky Way far out. But with a little extra searching (and to be honest, I live for the hunt), I found a pretty satisfying collection of mostly affordable footwear. Plus, I figure if I shill out a pretty penny for some new duds, I’m more likely to take better care them. Psychology at work!

Below are a few of my favorite finds from my search. I hope this rainbow of ethically produced shoes helps to brighten your summer. From bold wedges and polka-dot pumps to strappy sandals and neon sneakers, there’s a shoe here for every occasion. There’s also something here for nearly every budget, with pairs starting at $40. Whether you're looking for vegan, fair trade, handmade, upcycled, organic, made in the good ole USA, or just plain cute, you can lighten your conscience while you lighten your wallet with any one of these cool kicks.

1. Nina Sandals 


These green and brown strappy sandals are handmade in New Zealand. 

2. tooTOOS holEEEE [ess] Flats

Handmade by soleRebels, a fair trade footwear company in Ethiopia, these flats come in six bright colors and feature soles made from recycled tires.

3. Maha Ballet Flats


Patagonia claims that its products are made under safe, fair, legal, and humane working conditions, and much of its footwear includes some recycled materials. 

4. Custom 574 Sneakers

You can customize a pair of New Balance sneakers, which are made in the USA (mostly). 

5. Joanie Loafers


These lovely loafers are crafted in Spain from 100 percent vegan faux suede.

6. Jonathan Adler Sandals 


Purchasing this pair of shoes from TOMS' latest collaboration with Jonathan Adler will provide a free pair of shoes to a child in need. 

7. Leche de Luna Flats

 

These colorful flats from Osborn were handcrafted from reclaimed Mayan shirts. 

8. Murasaki Wedges

These gorgeous wedges are handcrafted from a beautiful vintage silk kimono and 100 percent GOTS certified organic denim.

9. New Mexican Sandals

Each of these black sandals is handmade to order in upstate New York using USA made materials. 

10. Cobb Hill Naomi Sandals

If New Balance sneakers aren't your style, try a pair of their strappy black wedges, again, made in the U.S. of A. 

11. Tia Flip-Flops

These vegan flip flops feature a sassy strap made from fair trade African printed cotton. 

12. Iggy T-Strap Sandals

Featuring faux leather and a geometric cotton print, these vegan shoes are handmade in Spain. 

13. Bologna Clog Sandals


Maguba is a swedish footwear company producing simple, natural handmade clogs with respect for their staff and the environment. 

14. Veria Too Wedges

These high-quality shoes, which promote better posture, come from Earth Shop, which claims to use eco-friendly and recycled materials whenever possible. 

15. N296 El Viajero Sneakers

Available in 29 different colors, these sneakers come from El Naturalista, a footwear company from Spain that is committed to both social and environmental responsibility. 

16. N394 Sila Sandals

Also from El Naturalista, these chunky sandals come in nine bright colors. 

17. Refugio Sneakers

Speaking of bright, these breathable sneakers from Teva, which has committed to improving its sustainability, are sure to keep you cool, dry, and fly. 

18. Original Sandals

And finally, these strappy flip flops, which come in 14 colors, are the original Teva design, dating back to 1984. 

Must Reads