I haven’t updated my summer sandals in a while…but it’s time, guys. My thong flip-flops just aren’t cutting it and I’d like to wear something that isn’t sneakers for once.
I’ll be honest though, I’ve had a pretty difficult time finding sandals that I really love. I tend to go for the pretty ones, but usually the fit is off and they hurt my feet and it’s — typically — a big ol’ fail…(coming from a tired ignore the reviews and hope for the best type of person.) So. Where does one go? Their personal group of shopping experts, of course.
10 Sustainable Brands Tempting Us With Cute Summer Sandals
So I bugged the TME editors for their favorite sandals; they’ve been doing this sort of research for years. It turns out that many of the brands that were top of mind also happened to be sustainably made. So here’s our short list of the sandals we love, that also happen to be sustainably made.
New summer sandals, I’m coming for you…as soon as I can actually decide.
Salt Water sandals (originally started in St Louis, Missouri) are not only really well-made, comfortable sandals…but the story behind them is something worth mentioning. They were originally made by Walter Hoy as a way to deal with leather shortages during WWII. He used scrap leather to create a pair for his daughter, but once word spread…families from all over St. Louis were asking for them, too. They still have a factory in St. Louis with a team of 13 that make each pair of sandals using the original 1940s machinery. They just updated their packaging so it’s now 100% recyclable with zero plastic used. They’re big supporters and partners of The Marine Conservation Society, too — 10% of all sales from their Turquoise Sandals go to this organization and they actively participate in the organization’s projects like The Salt-Water Birling Gap Beach Clean.
Fun fact: These are actually water sandals, too — get ’em wet. They’ll be fine.
Shana’s Pick: Salt Water Sandals
Shana says: I’ve loved my Salt Water sandals for years for both myself and the boys. They’re a travel necessity — super durable, water resistant and (with a little bit of extra width) gives some serious comfort.
Avarcas are traditional sandals of Menorca, Spain. Pons Avarcas are an updated version that have been ethically made in Spain since 1945 using locally sourced, raw materials. The Pons workshop, where they employ local craftspeople, is operated by the third-generation of the Pons family. There are 40+ colorways available so, yes…good luck deciding which one is your fave. I’m still debating over here.
Laura’s Pick: Pons Avarcas Classic Sandal
Laura says: I’ve loved these classic Spanish-style sandals for years. They are flattering, comfortable and go with everything. They break in beautifully and for me fit TTS (don’t size up though if you’re between as the heel strap will stretch to your foot with wear.) I’ve had them in multiple shades. They even look good with dresses, which is a tough ask for all flat sandals! (Also available on their main site for more colors and sizes.)
Teva not only makes products with recycled materials, but they’re decreasing their water usage, reducing their packaging, seeking alternatives for some key materials and offer vegan styles each season. They’ve already taken 40 million plastic bottles from landfills to turn them into sandals. They now even have a recycling program, TevaForever, where you can send back your worn Teva’s so they can be turned into running tracks, playgrounds and more. How cool?!
Meredith’s Pick: Teva Midform Universal Sandals
Meredith says: If platforms and flatforms had a baby…it would be these. Best of both worlds and you can’t beat the reputation of Tevas.
Native Shoes, founded in Canada in 2009, is known for their futuristic approach to classic designs. They’ve created super lightweight shoes for the whole fam all while keeping the environment in mind. No animal by-products are used and they’re recyclable. You can recycle through Native Shoes’ initiative, The Remix Project where they’ll take your shoes and use it for projects within the community. Their goal is to have each pair of Native shoes 100% life cycle managed by 2023.
Amy’s Pick: Native Spencer LX
Amy says: I drooled over this brand’s boots last winter, and now they’re making pool slides that are cute, responsible and at a magically good price point!! They have them here in a few more color (and size) options, too.
Started in Israel in 1942, Naot’s shoes are known as “the shoes of peace.” (I loved this little tidbit.) They’re ethically handmade by people of all different backgrounds. They’re especially known for the comfort of their shoes — made with an insole and lining that supports and forms to the natural shape of your foot. Comfy AND cute. ‘Nuff said.
Scotti’s Pick: Naot Footwear Pixie
Scotti Says: These (velcro-closure!) sandals are ridiculously comfortable, come in a ton of color combinations, can be worn with everything from denim shorts to maxi dresses and are my favorite one-and-done sandals to bring on any trip!
Nisolo is a brand that works with local artisans in Peru to create beautifully handmade designs. With the commitment to reduce and offset 100% of their carbon emissions, they use upcycled and recycled materials in their design process, use renewable energy in their factory, and work with Ecosphere+ for forest conservation in the Cordillera Azul of the Peruvian Amazon. Oh, and of course, their shoes are high-quality and gorgeous.
Em’s Pick: Huarache Sandal
Em says: Chris has a couple of pair of Nisolo shoes, and the quality is unsurpassed. Not to mention all their leathers are just gorgeous (and their model of ethical and sustainable production seems pretty legitimate.) All their sandals this season are eye-catching, but these classic huaraches cannot be beat. Pretty sure I had the same pair when I was 6-years-old. Available in a range of super pretty neutral hues, too.
ABLE creates gorgeous leather goods, but when it comes to sustainability, real leather can be a tough one. ABLE is constantly seeking alternative methods for a better environment overall and are actively looking to partner with companies that create plant-based leather alternatives. They currently use hides that would have otherwise been discarded and are part of the Leather Working Group that follows strict environmental protections. Their Ethiopian partners, one of their main sources for leather, use a 100% recycled water system. All of their mailers are recycled, and they repurpose shipping boxes for storage. Their biggest issue with turning to vegan leathers? They’re often using harmful chemicals and aren’t as sustainable long-term — real leather lasts longer. Part of conscious shopping is buying pieces made to last.
Top Pick: Suze Sandal
This dreamy brown color is perfect for a summer wardrobe and the fabric looks super high-quality. Definitely check out those other colors, too.
Nae, a brand that stands for “No Animal Exploitation” has one main mission: to propose an animal-friendly and ecological alternative against human exploitation. Their products are made in ethical factories in Portugal and every single product is environmentally friendly, using sustainable and recycled materials.
Top Pick: Theia Pinatex Black Sandals
The worn, vintage-y look of these sandals…YES. Perfect travel sandals.
Bryr Studio, a woman-owned brand in San Francisco, hand-makes clogs using eco-friendly manufacturing. I’m completely obsessed with not only their modern approach to the designs of their shoes, but also the contemporary colors they offer. They’re the chicest set of clogs I’ve ever seen.
Danielle’s Pick: Jesse Platform
Danielle says: Platform sandals are back and better than ever this summer. A platform clog? Don’t mind if I do. Oddly enough, I’ve found platforms can be some of the comfiest to walk in…maybe a me thing but based on reviews, these look very promising. Highly recommend checking out all the colorways, too…they’re GOOD.
Eileen Fisher is another brand we at TME love for a bit of everything, but we especially love the comfort of their shoes. (Linzi, the resident queen of comfort shoes, agrees.) Besides their awesome high-quality pieces, they also heavily focus on sustainability and human rights. They use organic, recycled and sustainable fibers, pay close attention to the impact of their manufacturing and water usage, and ultimately work on reducing their carbon footprint. They also have a history of supporting women through grants, events and partnerships. We stan.
Top Pick: Ego Platform Sandal
Love all the little details. (That tan color is tempting, too.)
What sustainable styles are you guys eyeing for the summer? Let us know in the comments!
Ps…this one’s for the pinners: