Sustainable shoes are gaining ground and we are now seeing brands use more responsible materials, vegetable tanning, and eco-friendly manufacturing. However, it can be tricky to know what brands to trust or which materials will hold up. More and more brands are choosing eco-conscious materials for their designs, and it is great to see fashion finally adapting to climate change. This movement is more than a trend; it is being led by consumer demands to offer footwear options that are sustainable.
Shoe brands are therefore doubling down on creativity to offer pairs that are as beautiful as they are green. We can now dress responsibly and stylishly, from head to toe. Just like with our favourite second-hand and vintage sneakers, we can also guide you towards the best sustainable brands on the market. From the pioneers of eco-conscious fashion to up-and-coming brands, Vestiaire Collective reveals its favourites. Here are our top five.
One shoe label that needs no introduction is Veja, the French brand that set the standard for trendy and eco-friendly sneakers. The completely fair trade and bio-sourced shoes are popular with celebrities such as Katie Holmes, Reese Witherspoon, and Meghan Markle. In a matter of a few years, Veja has established itself as the leader in sustainable shoes. Since 2005, Veja has crafted its footwear from organic cotton, recycled textile industry scraps, and recycled plastic bottles. Founders François-Ghislain Morillion and Sébastien Kopp wanted to create sneakers that respect the fundamental rights of workers and the planet, with complete transparency in all stages of production.
Veja produces all of its collections in Brazil using natural rubber from the Amazon and locally sourced organic cotton. Veja's motto? To pollute less while offering the signature product of their generation: sneakers. After four years of intense research and development, the brand's next launch is a pair of environmentally friendly running shoes. The first of theirits kind, the petroleum-free Condor is designed to train for running and half-marathons. The flexible and lightweight model combines the best in technical performance with ecological materials.
The use of banana oil, castor oil, rice waste, and recycled plastic allows Veja to reduce its environmental impact on the planet. If running for miles isn't your thing, the contemporary, unisex design of the Condor works perfectly as your go-to pair of casual sneakers. When you learn that 99% of running shoes are made of plastic, a derivative of petroleum, you'll agree it's better to invest in an eco-friendly pair or buy second-hand styles on Vestiaire Collective. Let's say goodbye to fast fashion and the polluting practices of our past.
Allbirds' goal is simple: to design the world's most comfortable sneakers. And according to Time magazine, it's already a done deal. Founded by a New Zealand native and former football player, Tim Brown launched Allbirds in 2014 to simplify the lines of the shoe and get back to basics. Brown's designs use wool uppers , a material that is not revolutionary but whose advantages we keep rediscovering. His shoes are made from ZQ-certified merino wool, requiring 60% less energy to process than synthetic materials. They are then woven with a high-tech fibre to make them more resistant. The other main components are eucalyptus fibre, which requires 95% less water than cotton, and a sole made from Brazilian sugar cane.
As if these sneakers couldn't be greener, the laces are composed of recycled plastic bottles and the insoles from castor beans. They keep the heat in when it's cold out but are also breathable enough to prevent odour. For this reason, Allbirds recommend wearing their shoes without socks. Those wary of going sockless can easily replace the insole and machine wash their shoes. We can't keep count of the number of celebrities seen wearing Allbirds: Leonardo Di Caprio, Emma Watson, Mila Kunis, Ryan Gosling, and even Barack Obama!
At first, Allbirds was only selling one style of sneakers. But the Californian brand has started to diversify and has expanded its selection of shapes and materials. The company even expanded its offering with its first responsible clothing collection in 2020. The established athletic brand Adidas is teaming up with Allbirds to launch a lightweight, sleek running shoe design with a near-neutral carbon footprint. Designed to be unisex, Allbirds have still succeeded in positioning themselves as an innovative and sustainable must-have among the many different types of men's shoes on the market. Join in on the sustainable movement and browse our selection of second-hand shoes on the Vestiaire Collective app.
Rothy's was founded in 2015 by Stephen Hawthornthwaite and Roth Martin, offering shoes made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles and marine plastic. The environmentally friendly brand reroutes plastic bottles away from landfills, converts them into yarn, and then knits them into sustainable, washable flats and sneakers. Their simple signature ballerinas are the result of several years of research but are 3D printed in under 10 minutes. They come in pointed or rounded toes and are available in a multitude of colours and patterns but are consistently ergonomic, strong, flexible, breathable, and antibacterial.
Rothy’s considers the health of our oceans in all that they do, even constructing the inner and outer soles from seaweed. Why seaweed? The harvesting of harmful algae from waterways helps maintain the balance of ecosystems while making for very resilient shoes. Another perk of a Rothy's creation is that they are fully machine washable, so you can always keep them fresh. One of our favourites is their new loafers, an equally comfortable style. They offer the perfect fit while highlighting the ankle in plain or animal print, camouflage, or polka dots. Whichever colour you choose, it is an elegant style ideal for both day and night.
Rothy's have taken the style test and passed with flying colours! They have managed to combine style, ultimate comfort, durability, and a classic look that perfectly suits women's everyday lives. We also love that the brand has recently committed to transitioning to a circular production model by 2023. One of their biggest fans is undoubtedly Meghan Markle, who swore by Rothy's ballerinas during her pregnancy as they are much greener and comfier than her usual high heels! If environmental consciousness is also one of your fashion priorities, you can find pre-loved Rothy's ballerinas on Vestiaire Collective.
The seventies-inspired clog is making a strong comeback in the world of fashion. But Swedish Hasbeens didn't wait for the trend's revival to position the retro shoe as its signature style. Since 2007 the Swedish duo Emy Blixt and Cecilia Wingard have been producing clogs, accessories, and leather goods. The two women, who grew up in a small Swedish village, found an entire stock of beautiful, handmade clogs sitting in the back of an unused warehouse. They decided to bring them home to Stockholm and give them as gifts to friends.
After receiving a positive response from their inner circle, they worked with a small artisanal workshop to have their own retro-inspired collection come to life. Since their humble beginnings, Swedish Hasbeens clogs have been crafted exclusively from untreated leather, rubber soles, and sanded wooden heels.
It is this focus on natural details that gives them their unique character. As they've grown, the brand has remained mindful of its environmental impact and continues to manufacture its shoes in the same small factory where it all began. Swedish Hasbeens found success quickly and, after only two years, was presented Stockholm's "Trend Brand of the Year" award at the Trend Awards Gala. The classic clogs have inspired the brand to create a deeper assortment of retro-inspired styles for their fans to add to their collections, such as sandals, open clogs, moccasins, and even flat or heeled boots in a wide range of colours and prints.
Recreate a chic, seventies-inspired look when you pair clogs with a long floral dress. The casual style gives an authentic look that has us longing for nature, especially with thick wool socks worn in winter. When you opt for sustainable, high-quality shoes made of wood and hard-wearing leather, you are voting against fast fashion. Following a commitment to the planet gives us all a good reason to buy a pair of beautiful clogs second-hand, of course, on Vestiaire Collective.
Womsh, an acronym for Word Of Mouth Shoes, was born in Italy in 2011 and conceived by Gianni Dalla Mora. The sneaker brand wants its shoes to convey an important message, using word of mouth to promote respect for the environment. Womsh is the first 100% sustainable fashion footwear brand in Italy and was founded by the Venetian entrepreneur after several years of working in the fashion industry. All of the brand's shoes are designed, produced and packaged exclusively in Italy using environmentally friendly materials. The collection stands by a singular mission: to preserve natural resources and reduce waste. Womsh leaves us no doubt that they are indeed ecologically conscious. They participate in the Zero Impact project, which aims to offset the CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere generated by the production of their goods.
The brand recently unveiled a vegan leather line with many enticing designs, all created from apple leather. They partnered with a fellow Italian company to develop a material called AppleSkin, an innovative product made from apple fibres found in food production waste. As if we couldn't fall in love with these sneakers even more, for every pair purchased from their vegan collection, Womsh works with Treedom to plant a tree! Treedom is a reforestation initiative that allows you to plant a tree anywhere in the world, name it and watch it grow.
Their commitment doesn't stop there. Womsh lets you drop your used sneakers in their shoe-specific recycling bins at all of the brand's outlets. In return, you will receive a gift voucher for your next pair. Your used shoes will skip the landfill and instead be transformed into anti-slip surfaces for children's playgrounds. By choosing Womsh sneakers, you are supporting environmental initiatives, innovation, and quality. This brand offers an excellent example for the fashion industry - looking towards a greener future by producing sustainable, innovative accessories. All virtuous actions the activists at Vestiaire Collective can fully stand behind.
Fashion is currently undergoing an unprecedented ethical and ecological shift. Fashion lovers are now searching for more sustainable brands that don’t require a sacrifice in style. While the topic of green fashion is now on everyone's lips, more and more committed brands are ingraining sustainability into the core of their collections. Whether it's luxury shoes, trendy sneakers, retro clogs, or washable ballerinas, there are sustainable brands of all shapes and sizes positioning themselves as defenders of the environment. Sneakers are one of the most polluting types of shoe because they are often made of plastic, but innovators are now creating impressive new materials that are less harmful to our planet. The fashion industry's unfortunate dependence on plastic and oil has become an environmental disaster. We can see the problem floating in our oceans, and it's about time we looked for alternatives. We are grateful to see ethical and eco-conscious shoe brands working towards changing this.
Thanks to Vestiaire Collective, it has never been easier to become a Fashion Activist. We hope that sharing our five favourite eco-fashion brands inspires you to start your green journey. These brands are like us: they know that you can love fashion and care for the planet at the same time. By shopping second-hand, you can prove your love for the environment without feeling guilty. You now have all the resources you need to respect the planet while remaining stylish!