With the evolution of Tom’s in the ethical sneaker brand space, many other brands are finding great ways to be a part of that eco-system in a different way. Social good and ethical practices by brand definition can mean different things. Tom’s is built on a one for one model, but some brands are taking their definition of social good and ethics a bit further. Brands are making products in different ways, using fair trade practices, organic materials, donating profits, and going out of their way to get B-certified and Fair Trade certified.
They have found a place to exist in the ethical brand market, especially with young conscious consumers. Going forward its going to be fun to watch brands innovate in the sneaker arena with new ethical sneakers, sandals, and other forms of footwear. Below, we have highlighted of few of these ethical shoe brands that are producing great products in innovative ways. Check them out.
The People’s Movement creates eco-hip footwear and accessories that stand for reduction of single-use plastic. They pair eco-conscious materials with up-cycled plastic bags cleaned from Bali creating products that help protect the planet. They also support organizations like 5 Gyres who have systematically reduced plastics through oceanic research,
The Cochise Jogger is one of the newest items in their collection. A throwback to the trainers of old, this sneaker holds both vintage style and eco qualities with high esteem. Featuring 100% upcycled plastic on the heel and logo.
Oliberté is a sustainable brand supporting workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Oliberte believe in empowerment, transparency, and doing the right thing within its business model.. This means making premium quality products with a lifetime warranty, and it means treating every employee, everywhere in the world, with respect. In 2009, they started off as a small footwear company partnering with factories and suppliers in Africa. Since then, they have gained enough momentum to launch their own factory in 2012. Now, they make every single pair of Oliberté shoes at the factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September 2013, Oliberte became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory.
One percent of Oliberte’s proceeds go to non-profits dedicated to sustainability and the environment. Oliberte is also a certified B-Corp and Certified Fair Trade USA partner.
Indosole takes old tires that would otherwise contribute to Indonesia’s massive landfill problem, and transforms them into beautiful sandals and shoes through a production process that is organic, toxic free, and environmentally sustainable. Not only that – the process provides dignified work to many in Indonesia.
All Keep products are vegan and cruelty-free. This means no animals were harmed when making their goods. This also means that they produce all footwear in factories audited by international, third-party non-profits who monitor ethical working conditions. A Keep representative is on the line of every production.
Veja makes some very stylish sneakers and works directly with small Brazilian producers, who are organized into cooperatives of organic cotton and wild rubber from the Amazon. They have won several awards for their sustainable and eco-friendly model, including the:
2012 – Guardian Sustainable Business Award
2012 – Observer Ethical Award
The dream of Wills is to bridge the gap between everyday people and ethically produced vegan shoes. Wills is about getting the latest fashions out there at fair prices, while not hurting animals or people in the process. The entire product line is free of animal products while workers are paid in accordance with European guidelines.
The product designs echo the high street trends, packed into four seasons giving you a year round alternative. The products are created with microfibers that look, wear, breathe and resist water just like leather. Wills believes buying something well made saves money, provides something to cherish and is better for our environment.
soleRebels is an ethical footwear company founded in 2004 by Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu in her community of Zenabwork, Ethiopia. The brand recognized that Africa needs fewer charities and more brands whose global reach can leverage good for the country. Good jobs means sustainability and not charity. soleRebels can already tip its cap to a massive accomplishment. They are the 1st WFTO/IFAT Fair Trade certified footwear company in the world. The company went through a rigorous audit to achieve this goal to prove that this sustainable model can exist and succeed in the country and the entire continent of Africa.
The BANGS model is built to invest 20% of net profits to help start businesses. Every month, they hand-select entrepreneurs to invest in their business ideas. All entrepreneurs are vetted + the loan dissemination and repayment is facilitated by their nonprofit partner, Kiva. Each entrepreneur builds their business and then repays their loan. 99% of loans given through the nonprofit partner are repaid. This high repayment rate indicates an extremely high rate of successfully growing businesses.
Nisolo works with impoverished artisans to give them an outlet to an established market. Along the way, they’re creating jobs in developing communities and providing a means of consistent work. Keeping an eye on the next generation, they invest 10% of the profits from the sales of their shoes in local educational programs. More than just spiffy kicks, wearing a pair of Nisolos is wearing a symbol of change. They firmly believe that ensuring fair trade practices and fair business practices promotes trust and what else, fairness. Whoever says success can’t be achieved with fair play just hasn’t been introduced to Nisolo yet.
Founder of Causeartist // Social Entrepreneur