This post rounds out my sustainable blog series! This time I’m focusing on shoes and bags. However, I found so many great names, I share lots more names and links under the Bags section. It’s probably my longest post but well worth the read. Don’t miss the great resources near the end!
I started my sustainable series with a post about Sustainable Denim, which you can read here. Then, I featured sustainable companies whose products I own, which you can read here. Without further delay, let’s talk shoes and bags.
Sanuk was my first foray into sustainable fashion before I knew about sustainable fashion. I admired a pair of sandals my neighbor was wearing, and she told me about Sanuk. Sanuk means “fun” in Thai, and that’s what they aim to do: put a smile on your face and fun on your feet. Sanuk uses recycled yoga mats for their yoga sling sandals, a genius idea. Here’s a style like mine, and there’s a slightly dressier version here. Both styles get great reviews, and I can attest to their comfort. Learn more about the company here.
Rothy’s stormed on the scene with their machine washable flats made from recycled plastic water bottles, yet another genius idea. Moving in a sustainable direction is at the heart of everything they do. Rothy’s owns and operates its own factory in China, and they plan to have a closed-loop production model by 2023. Their Point flat is very stylish and available in many colors. They make a cute lace-up sneaker, and I like this smart bucket bag. Learn more about Rothy’s here.
Allbirds‘ top priority since day one has been to reduce environmental impact. They use only natural materials including wool, sugar and trees! By December 2025, they’re committed to 100% of Allbirds’ wool coming from regenerative sources. My husband wears their wool runners, which are also available for women in many color choices. I like the women’s wool Runners and their Runner-up Mizzles, which are a high top style. They would be a comfortable alternative to ankle boots in the fall.
Fortress, which hails out of Austin, Texas, was one of the first slow fashion shoe brands. They believe in the fewer is better mentality. Their shoes are handmade in Peru using natural materials. Fortress believes their artisans are just as important as their customers. I don’t love cowboy boots, but the Elise is a western-inspired style I could get down with. The Penelope block heel would be a smart “back to the office” shoe. See all of their styles here.
Hey Dude uses materials like organic cotton, recycled plastic & leather and cork. Their employees are paid fair wages in safe workplaces. Admittedly, their shoes do not appeal to me; however, the reviewers rave about their comfort. Here’s a women’s chukka, and I like the print on the Wendy Funk style. This slip-on style would be great for around the house. Learn more about Hey Dude here.
Veja, founded in 2005, is a Certified B Corporation brand. Companies with this designation must be transparent. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Their shoes are made with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture, without chemicals or polluting processes. Their sneakers are produced in dignified conditions, in direct consultation with producer associations and manufacturers. My husband asked for a similar pair to these for his birthday. I like this style for women, which looks like a running shoe. Learn more about Veja here.
Magnafied shoes are made in Denmark. They use unique dead stock and carefully selected quality fabrics from Europe, USA and Japan. Their materials are non-toxic, and their components are selected with comfort in mind. To minimize waste, their shoes are produce on a made-to-order basis. Rather than recommend specific styles to you, visit their website and have fun. So many great ones!
Thousand Fell’s tagline is “the best sneakers for a better tomorrow.” Their shoes are designed in New York and manufactured in Brazil in a family-owned factory with three decades of high end shoemaking experience. Thousand Fell has a sneaker recycling program! Learn about it here. Their styles are simple like this white men’s sneaker with a touch of light green on the back. Madewell stocks them in a few colors and all-white here.
Before we move onto bags, here are two shoe lists from my favorite blog, The Good Trade. A list of ethical shoe brands is here, and a list of sustainable running shoes is here.
Mirta connects you with Italian artisans whose craftsmanship might otherwise die out. If you favor quality and an item that will last for many years, this is your company. I received the gorgeous Esmeralda bag for my birthday, and I’ve loved every minute of carrying it. Everyone at Mirta has been very responsive when I’ve had questions, and they even sent a thank you note with the bag. High class. By the way, the bag arrived in a shocking few days after purchase (from Italy!). I cannot recommend them more highly. They stock many items besides bags. Learn more about Mirta here.
von Holzhausen has been popping up in my ads on social media. I must admit they offer some smart styles. They create timeless, easy–to–wear women’s & men’s designs made from Technik–Leather, a 100% animal free and sustainable leather alternative that maintains the look and feel of real leather. All of their bags and accessories are made in world—class factories using skilled artisans who work in the most ethical conditions. See their best sellers here.
Behno touts itself as the world’s finest consciously made handbags. Behno means sisters in Hindi. Their six guiding principles are health, garment worker mobility, family planning, women’s rights, worker satisfaction and benefits and eco-consciousness. They founded their own cut and sew factory to meet these principles. Their leather comes from one of the world’s finest tanneries in Italy, which is a gold member of the Leather Working Group (LWG). LWG works with leading technical experts and industry leaders to promote sustainability and transparency. Read more Behno here. Browse their bags and wallets here. I know it’s a bit early to be thinking of New Year’s Eve, but this bag looks a NYE party!
Hunting Season offers Columbian-made handbags. From thoughtful designs to a conscious effort to contribute to the well-being of others, they are weaving an ethical responsibility through everything they do. Their design studio is located in Bogota, Columbia where they work with local artisans with a rich heritage of woven techniques. They carefully source their materials like metal-free leather tanned in Italy, and they work directly with artisans and craftsmen in family-owned businesses. I love this lizard beige clutch and this small top handle bag, both available from Neiman Marcus. Learn more about them here.
Cuyana is a global design house that inspires intentional buying through pieces that are crafted with integrity. Founded on the philosophy of fewer, better, Cuyana encourages customers to purchase pieces they will love and treasure for years to come. They offer bags, small leather goods, clothing and jewelry. They are a partner with ThredUp to keep clothing out of landfills. Browse all of their new arrivals here. Learn about the company here.
Artesano, which means “hand-crafted,” offers ethically made artisanal panama hats, bags & shoes. Designed in Miami; handmade in Ecuador. Most of their materials are eco-friendly and vegan. Their felted wool is consciously sourced from ethical farmers. Shop their new arrivals here. Anthropologie carries their Capri straw tote bag in a variety of colors here.
More Sustainable Brands
Here are a few more fashion brands worth mentioning. In some cases, these brands also produce bags and shoes.
Eileen Fisher is the grandmother of sustainability. She was light years ahead of other designers, creating new fabric out of old. She believes in living with less so you have more time and space to focus on what matters. Designed to last a lifetime. A simple wardrobe. A sustainable life. They take back your old EF pieces to remake them into new designs. So far, they’ve gathered 1.4 million items! Shop Eileen Fisher here.
Common Era is an independent women-owned business. Crafted by hand, they use ethically-sourced gemstones and sustainable gold and silver. Every purchase helps an animal in need. Learn about their causes here. Shop the entire collection here.
Vincent James Designs a collection of elevated essentials with a sustainable approach to providing the foundational pieces for a chic, timeless and minimal capsule wardrobe. They use the highest quality natural fabrics. Learn more about them here.
Amour Vert plants a tree for every t-shirt purchased. So far, they’ve planted 180,000 trees. Crafted in California in limited quantities. They partner directly with mills to develop their own fabrics that are sustainable, soft and stand the test of time. Learn more about them here.
Mara Hoffman fosters open conversations about its approach and encourages consumers to evaluate their relationship with clothing. Their focus is on sustainable materials, process and production. They’ve recently opened their first storefront in Hudson, NY. Learn more about them here.
Girlfriend Collective offers ethically made activewear, hats and bags from recycled water bottles in sizes XXS – 6XL. See their products here.
Pact creates “earth’s favorite clothing for men and women.” They partner with Fair Trade Certified™ factories because they ensure care for both people and planet. Fair Trade factories provide safe working conditions, empower and uplift local communities, and protect the environment. Pact uses organic cotton for their easy-going knitwear and thoughtful packaging. Learn about Pact here.
Alabama Chanin is a lifestyle company producing well-designed and thoughtfully made goods for the person and the home. They use 100% organic cotton fabric, sourced sustainably from seed to fabric—along with repurposed and reclaimed materials. Their garments are hand-sewn locally. Learn about them here.
Vetta Capsule produces five pieces at a time, which can be mixed into 30 outfits (a one month’s supply). In the fashion business, this is known as a wardrobe capsule. Thus, the company name. Made in a family run factory in NYC; a partner factory in Los Angeles knits their sweaters. They use sustainable fabric in all of their designs including Tencel, organic cotton, and deadstock fabric. Learn more about them here.
Cos focuses on ethical standards as a business, and they have a commitment towards the people and communities who make their products. 76% of their materials were sustainably sourced in 2020. So far this year, they’ve hit 86%. Their goal is for all of their products to be created with sustainably sourced or recycled materials. Learn more about Cos here.
Jade Swim designs are simple but more than basic. The right cut of jade brings out its beauty. Jade Swim is classic with an edge. They use responsibly sourced organic, recycled and regenerated materials wherever possible. Their products are designed in NYC and made in the U.S. ECONYL, which is made out of 100% regenerated nylon, is utilized for most of their collection. This reduces waste from oceans and landfills by recycling items such as fishing nets, plastic bottles and fabric scraps. They also use biodegradable packaging. Learn about them here.
Frank & Eileen is a women-owned Certified B Corporation that creates easy-to-live-in clothing. They are most known for their menswear-inspired shirts. I love their chambray style here. See their entire collection here.
Athleta is also a Certified B Corporation making clothing for active women and girls. Although Athleta has been around for years, they only recently landed on my radar as I’ve brought more athleisure into my wardrobe. As you may know from previous posts, I’ve purchased their Cabo linen joggers in chambray blue. Visit their website here.
Here are more links to sustainable companies! (Still not a complete list.)
An App called Good on You shares sustainable brands, too!
Shop on Market45 to browse sustainable brands in one place.
Confession, I’ve been throwing my used underwear and bras in the trash, and that bums me out. I try not to throw any garment in the trash. Next time, I’m sending my old undies to Knickey!
Two Additional Resources
ThredUp makes sure garments stay out of our landfills. If they cannot sell it, they partner with companies who can use it. Request a free clean out bag here! I’ve been using the ThredUpxAthleta bags to get Athleta store credit.
Retold Recycling offers a subscription service. Send them any and all household textiles. Retold Recycling sorts and sends them to the appropriate places: thrift stores, charities, reuse partners, rag companies and next generation fabric houses (coming soon). With a passion for eradicating landfill at its core, Retold Recycling aims to build a community of subscribers diverting fabric from landfills via its mantra and vision: #nolandfill. Learn more about Retold Recyling here.
The Story Behind My Look
The look I’m wearing in this post has elements of sustainability.
The shirt is from J. Crew Factory. By buying cotton products from J.Crew Factory, you’re supporting more responsibly grown cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative. J.Crew is part of the same group as Madewell, a known sustainable brand.
The shorts are by Valette, which I purchased at Nordstrom so long ago, I cannot remember when. Buying and keeping clothing a long time is part of the sustainability equation. I had them tailored this year to fit better, so I have no plans of getting rid of them anytime soon. J. Crew has a nice pair of faded chambray 4″ shorts here. They come in many many color options.
My sandals are by Marc Fisher from PoshMark. Though I’ve not delved into resale in my sustainable posts, reselling your clothing in the second-hand market and buying in the second-hand market is a great way to be sustainable. This style is almost just like mine. There are a few color options.
I’m Here to Help
I’ve loved sharing these companies and brands with you! As I strive to be more sustainable, it’s good to know I have many choices. I’m here to help you navigate the shopping landscape. You don’t have to do it alone. Let’s make your wardrobe work for you. Message me here, or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.