The Best Eco-Friendly and Ethical Boots for Fall
- by EcoCult Staff
- Oct 3, 2022
Image by Huma Blanco
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Whether you wear them to work, on hikes, or out on the town, a sleek pair of boots is a closet staple. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about them falling apart on you after just a few seasons. There are accessible (and affordable!) brands that work with skilled artisans to create beautiful and durable pairs.
These ethically made fall and winter boots will keep you warm and comfortable for years. But before you shop, make sure you know what to look out for.
Ethically Sourced & Certified Materials: When shopping for a sustainably made and durable boot, it’s important to know where and how the materials were sourced. Look for brands that work closely with local tanneries or that only source from leather workers that meet their sustainability standards. Look for certifications such as the Leather Working Group and GOTS.
Be discerning when considering vegan leather options, as many are made from plastics and are not long-lasting, repairable, or breathable. You can also look for brands that upcycle deadstock leather and give it a whole new life. Some brands also incorporate merino wool and organic cotton into their boots for warmth and flair.
Fair Labor Practices: Many brands work closely with small family-owned factories and local artisans in countries with strong shoe-making traditions: Peru, Guatemala, Italy, and Portugal. (The benefit is that your boots will be very comfortable and last forever!) Some even collaborate directly with their shoemakers to create unique and stunning designs. Look for brands that are directly involved with their supply chains (or map them) as these are more likely to maintain proper benefits and working condition standards.
Functionality: If you want a boot that lasts a lifetime, it’s important to know what you need out of it. Fortunately, many boots are made to be both outdoorsy and stylish. If you need a durable hiking boot, look for features such as water-proofing or water resistance, as well as supportive insoles. If you’re just going for fashion, consider a comfortable and versatile pair that will easily match your closet.
Christy Dawn is a Los Angeles-based brand that makes vintage-inspired boots from untreated deadstock leather leftover from other fashion companies. Its designs are built to last, both in construction and style. It fosters close relationships with its craftspeople and partners with farmers to regenerate farmland and foster healthy organic cotton crops. Its lace-up boots are hand cobbled in Pastores, Guatemala.
The Root Collective
This brand offers ankle and knee-length boots in several styles and colors. They’re made with leather and handwoven cotton accents for contrast, as well as a non-slip synthetic heel cap. The Root Collective operates on a limited release and pre-order model to reduce waste. It works closely with its artisans in Guatemala and shares their stories on its website.
Huma Blanco is a woman-owned, third-generation shoe brand that makes chic and unique boots. These functional pieces are handcrafted in Lima, Peru with leather, wood, natural dyes, and snake foil. It sources all of its materials locally and works with suppliers to develop custom materials to bring the shoemakers’ visions to life.
Rothy’s makes boots that are durable, comfortable, and 100% machine washable. It offers merino wool ankle boots in two colors, and Chelsea boots spun from recycled plastic bottles in four. With a sustainability council made up of scientists, designers, and other industry experts, the brand owns all of its factories and ensures fair wages and benefits for everyone on its factory team. And its recycled cardboard shoe boxes require no extra packaging for shipping.
This women-led brand creates timeless shoes for “free and rebellious women” using high-quality materials such as GOTS-certified organic cotton and REACH-compliant leathers. It’s dedicated to transparency and only works with tanneries that meet its chemical management criteria. It uses organic cotton pouches and recycled cardboard mailers and manufactures all of its products in a small, ethical factory in Tuscany, while sourcing all of its materials within 55km to stay aware of its environmental impact.
Fortress of Inca
Fortress’s handmade boots are created to be refined, versatile, and timeless. They were first invented on a backpacking trip, so you know they’re designed to be worn comfortably all day. Its boots are made with leather and leather-wrapped wood (some of which are water-resistant.). The brand works with family-owned and operated factories in Peru and always ensures fair working conditions and wages.
Nisolo is a certified B corp that makes closet staples that are easy to dress up or down. The brand shares its lowest wages and sustainability facts to ensure complete transparency throughout its supply chain. All of its first-tier suppliers in Peru and Mexico have signed a code of conduct to maintain ethical practices. Its boots are made of Leather Working Group-certified (and water-proof!) leather and feature custom Nisolo memory foam insoles. Read more about Nisolo’s sustainability standards and labels here.
This brand offers a modern take on the traditional European hiking boot called the “Ultralight Hiking Boot.” It’s made with waterproof Italian leather, lined with merino wool, and available in several colors to suit all styles. Designed for both outdoor durability and refined style, it’s a versatile essential to any boot-lovers closet. All of Season Three’s boots are handmade in a family-owned factory in Northern Italy,
This online marketplace features boots of all lengths and styles including classic combat, heeled knee-length, riding boots, and sleek booties. It hosts brands like Essen and ReyRey that handcraft comfortable and long-lasting boots in Italy and Portugal, respectively. ReyRey uses ICEC-certified and vegetable-tanned leather, and Essen uses REACH-certified leather and materials as well as reusable packaging.
Palladium has been making shoes for over 100 years, for everyone from paratroopers to grunge-goths. Its boots are timeless, long-lasting, and water-resistant. They’re designed for durability and all-day comfort, whether you’re hiking or exploring the city. Its first sustainable shoe, made of organic cotton, was released in 1991. Palladium now offers this material in dozens of different colors and styles.
This women-led vegan brand designs shoes perfect for both day and night. Its versatile and comfortable boots are made out of bio-based materials such as apple skin and antimicrobial algae, as well as REACH-compliant vegan leather. The brand also offers removable accessories so you can get multiple looks out of one shoe. Verrah works closely with its suppliers and manufacturers, and all of its shoes are handcrafted by artisans in New Taipei, Taiwan, and Guangdong, China.