Raise your hand if you look forward to the warmer days!
We sure do! And, when we think of warmer days, we think of long walks, traveling, beaches, exploring, and being outdoors. All of which calls for good summer sandals, which can be tricky to find. They need to fulfill many roles while being breathable enough for higher temperatures and stylish. But these are not the only qualities we should be looking for when choosing our sandals.
The fast-fashion mindset dominates the footwear industry. While they produce trendy and cheap shoes, large brands base their business on unsustainable and unethical practices. Luckily, more and more small brands are rising against this and are taking a stand for the planet and people. We selected our favorite brands, to show how sustainable sandals are not only possible to find, but there is a style for everyone!
The brands we selected all mission-driven: from empowering the local artisans, fighting animal cruelty to reducing waste. Besides, they use sustainable, eco-friendly materials and they produce in ethical and fair conditions. The brands are all either US-based or ship to the US.
Here they are: 14 best ethical and sustainable sandals to check out before the warmer days!
1. Beyond Skin
Highlights: Fairtrade, PETA approved vegan, Cruelty-free
Beyond Skin is a luxury and vegan footwear brand that brings timeless and elegant designs. Their vintage-inspired aesthetic is embraced by a number of celebrities and became synonymous with high-quality fashion that doesn’t sacrifice the planet.
The brand sources materials that are local to their factories in Spain, to reduce their carbon emissions. The heels and tops are made out of PU and they use 100% recycled faux leather lining.
These flat sandals with a tiny heel are a comfortable and versatile choice. They are easy enough for daily walks and can be dressed up for a nicer occasion.
2. Matt & Natt
Highlights: Vegan, Fair wages, Eco-friendly materials
Matt & Nat stands for mat(t)erial + nature. Led by the mantra “live beautifully”, they spent years experimenting with different eco-friendly, natural, and recycled materials. Since 2007, the brand uses only 100% recycled plastic bottles in their linings, and they recently introduced recycled bicycle tires too.
They produce ethically and have a strong relationship with all their factories, ensuring good working conditions and fair wages.
Our pick: GLAM Waterproof Sandals
A little glam in your day? Why not! All while staying perfectly comfortable!
3. Native Shoes
Highlights: Cruelty-free, Vegan, Sustainable materials
This brand made a name for themselves with their innovative, colorful, and fun designs. They believe in practicing tiny activism by doing small things that make the world a better place. As the planet changes, the Native Shoes invests in innovation. Their shoes are vegan and cruelty-free, made out of PU and EVA rubber. Their goal is to give a new life for each pair of shoes they make by 2023, with their Native Shoes Remix project.
Our pick: Ellis sandals
This unisex style is modern, practical, and versatile. The sandals are made with durable straps and dual-density soles, which will make them last for a long time.
Highlights: Vegan, Organic & Sustainable materials
A New York-based brand is all about thoughtful design. Fully vegan and cruelty-free, they offer premium footwear that puts the environment and people first. Their shoes are artisan-made with organic cotton linings, hand-painted embossed cork, and recycled microfibers. Bhava also cares about the health of their buyers. The brand puts special care into their design to ensure maximum comfort and durability.
Our pick: Ines Strappy Sandal
If you’re looking for a high heel, you don’t have to give up on comfort! These sandals with block wooden heel and cork insole have a shock-absorb sole, making them easy enough for a daily choice. The sandal also comes with a detachable ankle strap.
Highlights: Vegan, eco-friendly & recycled materials, locally made
NAE stands for No Animal Exploitation. The brand offers a fair and animal-friendly alternative, which respects the environment and fights against human exploitation. They work with natural and innovative materials like cork and pineapple, as well as recycled plastics & organic cotton. Products are of high quality and made only in certified factories in Portugal.
Our pick: Gatria sandal
Ever had a pair of sandals made out of pineapple? These vegan, ankle strap flats use Piñatex and eco-friendly microfibers. They are minimalistic, with a criss-cross strap that wraps around the ankle for better support.
Highlights: PETA approved vegan, Fairtrade, Radically transparent
Ethletic is a German brand mainly known for its sneakers, but they offer great flip-flops too. They truly care about the wellbeing of those making their shoes. They feature their makers on the website and, when you buy their product, you can choose to tip the individual maker. All of their shoes are produced sustainably, using certified natural rubber.
Our pick: Fair Flip Collection 17 Tropical Leaf
A classic beach thong in a classic summertime color: what is there more to ask! They are also durable and made with care.
Highlights: Vegan, Sustainable materials, Ethically-made in own factory
A Brazilian brand, Ahimsa makes everything in their own factory. However, they stand out by owning the first and, at the moment the only, 100% vegan shoe factory in the world. The brand is on a mission to inspire conscious behavior, offering high-quality products made from alternative materials. They also feature their whole team from the factory on their website.
Our pick: Noemi in Navy
You can hardly go wrong with a basic design. This is a simple, yet elegant and comfortable flat sandal. The three straps are here to add safety and keep the shoe breathable-great for those extra warm days.
Highlights: Black-owned, Artisan empowerment; Made-to-order
Zou Xou advocates for slow fashion and is fighting the overproduction with their made-to-order model. They create modern and high-quality essentials using traditional, artisan techniques and premium leathers. Every piece is ethically handcrafted in Argentina, where their makers negotiate their own wages and set their working hours.
Our pick: Lagos Thong Sandal in Black
This shoe combines the ease and lightness of a flip-flop with the structure of a leather slide. The square corners give a graphic look and the finish brings a sophisticated feel. Adding to this the small heel and memory foam, it is a sandal for full-day wear.
Highlights: Artisan-made, Beyond the fair wage
Made in their own factory in Peru, strictly selected partner factories and by independent makers, Nisolo shoes are ethical and high-quality wear that will last long. As a company, they openly discuss the issue of the living wage in the fashion industry. As a response, they choose to disclose the lowest wage in their supply chain, which they believe is a key in understanding if the brand treats everyone fairly. They are also a certified B-Corp and a carbon-neutral company.
Our pick: Women's Huarache Sandal
A sandal that comes in four neutral shades is a summer staple. The design originates from pre-Columbian Mexico times and is made out of soft, hand-cut, and woven leather. It’s an investment guaranteed to last.
10. Brother Vellies
Highlights: Black-owned, artisan-made, sustainable materials
Brother Vellies is a luxury accessories brand, whose goal is to celebrate and sustain traditional African and other artisan techniques. Their timeless and quality shoes are honoring the people who make them and their cultural heritage. The brand uses conscious materials like vegetable-tanned lathers, recycled tires, wood, and other by-product materials sourced from farmers across the world.
Our pick: Beirut Slide
If you are looking for flats for a nice occasion, these can easily rise an outfit up. Made with woven leather and adorned with a gold chain, they have a small heel that will not sacrifice comfort.
Highlights: A non-profit, empowering women, fair trade
Darzah means "stitch" in Arabic, this is the only brand on the list that is a non-profit project. Made in West Bank, this brand specializes in Palestinian "tatreez" embroidery, a centuries-old art form, traditionally passed down from mother to daughter. They exist to create economic opportunities for refugee and low-income women artisans and to celebrate Palestinian cultural heritage. Fairtrade certified, they source their leather from a family-run leather manufacturer.
Our pick: The Tatreez Cross Sandal in Blue
For a unique look, check out this modern take on a traditional Palestinian art form. Hand embroidered by a women artisan, these flats offer a soft leather insole and comfortable lining.
Highlights: Radical transparency in the supply chain; beyond fair trade wages
The Root Collective partners with small, independent workshops, to empower the local businesses and economy. They offer beyond a fair wage and their makers earn from 50-400% above the Fair Wage minimum in Guatemala. The products are handwoven and a combination of leather and textiles, carrying a story of the traditional skills and people who make them.
Our pick: Molly Sandal in Chestnut
A simple slip with a twist: this shoe features rustic leather, complemented by the handwoven fabric. When you choose this special shoe, you can easily see a breakdown of cost per wear. It makes clear that investing in high-quality sandals pays off!
13. Savanna Sandals
Highlights: Sustainable and recycled material; gives back
Savanna Sandals has a simple purpose: to reduce waste with a product that people need, and give back to the community. Using recycled tires, the brand makes durable and comfortable flip-flops in an environmentally conscious manufacturing facility in South Africa. Each pair is a step in fighting waste pollution. 10% of sales go directly to the African Childrens Haven, an organization that provides orphan care, teacher support, and nutrition for more than 700 children and families.
Our pick: Woman’s Bright White
These neutral sandals go with anything: from jeans to beachwear. Made for long walks and days on the beach, they will last for a long time.
Which one will you choose?