11 Brands for Ethical Kids’ Shoes in the UK That Tread Lightly on Nature

Children in ethical kids´ shoes

11 Brands for Ethical Kids’ Shoes in the UK That Tread Lightly on Nature

As any sustainably-minded parent will tell you, ethical kids’ shoes can be hard to find. With shadowy supply chains, greenwashing brands, and kids growing out of shoes before breakfast, finding sustainable footwear for our youngest family members can be a struggle. With the sneaker industry responsible for an incredible 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, engaging with the sustainable footwear market is becoming of the utmost importance.

There are great brands out there that are taking the sustainable footwear world by storm. We have compiled this handy list of some of the best ethical kids’ shoe brands available in the UK.

Contents

Which Materials are Ethical?

Knowing how to spot ethical brands is a necessary skill when it comes to finding sustainable shoes for your little eco-warrior. Understanding what materials are in the sustainable footwear playbook is a good place to start.

Natural Fibres

In a world choking on microplastics, natural materials are always a welcome change. When shopping for ethical kids’ shoes, look out for brands that use materials such as wool, organic cotton, and flax. For leather shoes, make sure you check the materials that went into the tanning process as well as that the animal conditions and working rights are ethical.

Companies that use vegetable tanning, and chrome-free and heavy-metal free dyes are good ones to look out for.

Recycled Materials

As always, recycled materials are more sustainable than the same material in its shiny, new state. Recycled cotton and recycled plastic are common materials in ethical kids’ shoes.

Fabric Innovations

There are clever people out there doing some very clever things with sustainable fabric innovations. From leather made from pineapples to fabric made from eucalyptus, sustainable material innovations are a great boost to a brand’s sustainable credentials. See our article on plant-based leather alternatives for more information.

Ethical kids and adults shoes
Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

How Do I Know they’re Ethically Made?

From slave labour allegations, to child labour practices, to unsafe working conditions, there have been several reports of ethical missteps in the footwear sector. While human and animal rights and safe working conditions remain areas that need rapid improvement, not every brand is acting in an unethical manner.

Some key points to look out for when deciding if a brand is ethical are:

Certifications

As always, certifications are the ultimate starting point for ethical production. Fairtrade, GOTS, and SA8000 are just some that point towards ethical practices when looking for ethical kids’ shoes in the UK. For more information on sustainable certifications see our article Why is Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Important.

Transparent Supply Chains

As with other fashion and apparel sectors, unethical footwear manufacturing practices often hide in shadowy supply chains. If consumers don’t know where a product was made, who made it, what it is made from, and the conditions it was made in, it becomes much harder to make an informed ethical choice. 

When shopping for kids shoes make sure to do some research. Check where and how a brand makes its products, and buy from those whose production methods fit with your ethical viewpoint. We have more tips on how to avoid greenwashing here.

Footwear Brands for Ethical Kids

This brings us to our much-anticipated list of some of the best ethical kids’ shoe brands for your little one. 

Pricing Guide:
£: under £30
££: between £30-£60
£££: over £60

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Children playing in ethical kid's shoes
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

1. Frugi

Based: UK                Ships to: Internationally

Made in: India, Turkey, Portugal, and China

Range: EU Sizes 21-36

Price: £

Sustainability creds: Queens Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2020, GOTS Certified, Soil Association Organic

With vibrant colours and quirky prints, some adorable wellies from Frugi are sure to brighten up any rainy day.  The wellies are made from natural rubber and are PVC-free, keeping little feet dry the sustainable way.

This UK based ethical kid’s shoe brand also has some delightfully colourful welly liners, completing the perfect footwear ensemble for jumping in puddles! With cleated soles for a non-slip feature, there is nothing better for a rainy day.

2. Petit Nord

Based: Denmark              Ships to: Internationally

Made in: Portugal

Range: EU Sizes 16-35, Some Women’s Styles

Price: £££

Sustainability creds: Vegetable Tanned Leather, Organic Cotton, Recycled Materials

Danish footwear brand Petit Nord is where country charm meets a modern chic vibe. Its children’s footwear styles are effortlessly sweet and versatile enough to fit in on a chic city street or a forest exploration. It has boots, sneakers, and sandals on offer.

Petit Nord strives to use 100% vegetable tanned, biodegradable, ecological, and chrome free leather. With such a strong commitment to sustainability, it even has plans to incorporate an upcycled sandal range made from leftover leather scraps into its collection of ethical kids’ shoes available in the UK.

3. Clarks

Based: UK              Ships to: Internationally

Made in: Asia, Europe, Central America

Range: EU Sizes 17 ½ – 44 ½ and Adult Sizes

Price: ££

Sustainability creds: ShoeShare Initiative, Leather Working Group

With its origins in 1825, Clarks is one of the most recognisable names in British footwear. This giant of the sector is particularly popular for its back-to-school ranges and is famous for its sturdy, comfortable, and well-fitting footwear.

Although it has had some missteps, Clarks seems to be on the right track to move towards a more sustainable tomorrow. Clarks has partnered with Unicef on the ShoeShare Initiative to reduce waste in the footwear industry and help children in need. The brand has also created styles from sustainable canvas and innovative zero-glue shoes.

Child and teddy bear in ethical wellies
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev from Pexels

4. Wildling

Based: Germany                Ships to: Internationally

Range: EU Sizes 18-39 and Adult Sizes

Price: £££

Sustainability creds: 1% For the Planet, Rewilding Europe, 2021 Deutscher Gründerpreis Winner, certified B corporation

German brand Wildling is taking walking back to its natural form, with shoes designed for an anatomical fit. Based on ninja shoe styles that promote flexibility and free movement, Wildling is encouraging restriction free walking.

Available in earthy tones and gender-neutral styles, Wildling shoes are encouraging all of us to walk in harmony. The brand uses natural materials including cotton, hemp, wool, and cork, so every pair of ethical kids’ shoes treads lightly on the natural world.

5. Nubikk

Based: Netherlands             Ships to: Internationally

Made in: Portugal

Range: EU Sizes 23-35 and Adult Sizes

Price: £££

Sustainability creds: Leather Working Group

Nubikk sneakers are quite simply, cool. For that kid that is always on-trend, Nubikk is the perfect place to shop. The brand’s gender-neutral sneakers come in shiny pinks, dazzling silvers or monochromatic shades. With a thick but lightweight sole, little feet are sure to be protected.

The brand uses renewable energy, it is a part of the Leather Working Group and is on a mission to become 100% plastic free. Aiming to reduce waste in the industry, it also generously offers a repair service.

6. Emu

Based: Australia            Ships to: Internationally (UK Stockists)

Made in: Australia and China

Range: Baby Sizes- EU 38, and Adult Sizes

Price: ££

Sustainability creds: Woolmark Accredited, Natural Materials

A popular maker of ethical kids’ shoes and adult styles that ships to the UK, is Emu. This Aussie brand has all the snuggly styles for the winter months. Using merino wool, Emu creates classic boots, as well as quirky designs featuring cute animals, to cater to any personal style.

Emu takes a considered approach to sustainability. The brand uses natural wool and materials and focuses on an attitude of quality over quantity.

A favourite from the land down under, these soft, warm shoes will keep your little one’s feet toasty all winter long.

Girl in outdoor ethical shoes
Photo by Misha Voguel from Pexels

7. Vivo Barefoot

Based: UK                 Ships to: Internationally

Made in: China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Portugal

Range: EU Sizes 20-39 and Adult Sizes

Price: ££

Sustainability creds: Vegan Ranges, B-Corporation Certified

Vivo Barefoot is bringing a minimalist vibe to the ethical footwear market. Vivo Barefoot’s styles replicate bare feet, allowing free movement of feet and toes, while still offering the protection of shoes.

The brand has vegan collections on offer, while the leather used comes from free-roaming cattle on small-scale farms. The company also offers repaired and refurbished ranges to limit its environmental impact. With barefoot styles, this UK brand is bringing us closer to the natural world.

8. Noah

Based: Germany                 Ships to: Internationally

Made in: Italy

Range: EU Sizes 20-32 and Adult Sizes

Price: ££

Sustainability creds: PeTA Approved Vegan, PeTA Business Friends

With vegan shoes made in Italy and available in the UK, Noah is bringing some style to the world of ethical kids’ shoes.

Noah has chic yet comfortable children’s styles that are all PeTA approved vegan and made in Italy.

Using organic materials, made without toxins, and with natural rubber soles, Noah shoes are breathable, comfortable and a sure favourite for stylish kids.

9. Natural World

Based: Spain               Ships to: Internationally

Range: EU Sizes 25-38 and Adult Sizes

Price: ££

Sustainability creds: 100% Organic Cotton, 100% Recycled Packaging, Ethical Trade Commitment, Folia Project Partner

With fashionable sneakers, boots, and sandals in rich tones, ethical kids’ shoes from Natural World are the perfect addition to your child’s sustainable wardrobe. Natural World shoes are durable enough for everyday use, are breathable, flexible, and even machine washable!

The brand has vegan ranges available, uses organic cotton and natural rubber. Taking a comprehensive approach to sustainability, Natural World engages in rubber recycling and reuse programs in shoe manufacturing. Natural World also works with tree planting initiatives.

Sporting modern and contemporary twists on classic styles, Natural World is sure to become a favourite for your little one.

Girl's foot in shoe
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

10. Gro Five Expandals

Based: US               Ships to: Internationally

Range: EU Sizes 21-43, Some Adult Sizes

Price: ££

Sustainability creds: Because International’s Pursuit Incubator Program, Gro Five Organisation

Few footwear brands operate with a mission as inspiring as Expandals. Grown out of a desire to do good, these ethical kids’ shoes work to help the most vulnerable children. As an added, bonus they also solve every parent’s footwear problem… kids grow out of shoes quickly!

Expandals are durable, comfortable sandals that are designed to grow with the child, able to expand five shoe sizes. As if that wasn’t good enough, the brand offers a Give Back scheme where it helps children living in poverty to have their own pair of quality expandable shoes.

11. Inkkas

Based: US            Ships to: Internationally

Made in: Mexico

Range: EU Sizes 23-35 and Adult Sizes

Price: ££

Sustainability creds: One Shoe One Tree Project, Trees for the Future Project

With stylish designs sporting vibrant hues and Latin American textiles, Inkkas is the ultimate brand to inject some colour into your child’s wardrobe. With both high-top and slip-on styles, Inkkas kicks rock an effortlessly on-trend vibe.

Inkkas believes in creating shoes that make the world a better place. Living by this ethos, all shoes are made in Mexico in child labour free factories, paying above average wages. Inkkas is part of the OneShoeOneTree Project and partnered with Trees for the Future.

When buying ethical kids shoes from Inkkas, you not only get a favourite footwear addition, but you also help to reforest the world and support sustainable agriculture.

Shoes that Tread Lightly

For sustainably-minded parents, finding sustainable options for our kids’ wardrobes can be a struggle. However, there are some fantastic ethical kids’ shoe and clothing brands available in the UK that make sustainability both practical and effortlessly stylish. Whether your little eco-warrior needs some shoes for hiking the mountains, heading to school, or playing in the park, make sure to choose quality footwear that treads lightly on the planet.

Check out our articles for some great sustainable children’s clothing brands and ethical organic baby clothes. If you’re looking for gifts, we also have our organic baby gifts guide, all under £50! 

We hope you agree that kitting our kids out sustainably really can be a walk in the park.

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