9 Indie Shoe Designers You Should Be Supporting

Give those Nikes a rest – there’s a new wave of shoe designers out there who are embracing design and production methods that are friendly to animals, the environment and artisans alike.

1. Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather

Attention style-savvy, animal-friendly folks: Shoe designers Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather specialize in vegan shoes that are as fashionable as they are animal friendly. With a large selection of sandals, loafers and boots for men and women, this international indie line (designed in Paris, made in Portugal) has just about everything on your list.

2. Teysha

You may remember Austin, Texas-based Teysha from a recent DesignGood Business By Design profile. But Teysha does such great work that the name bears repeating – this shoe shop is a certified B Corp that works closely with artisans in Latin American countries, all while giving back a portion of proceeds to education and sustainability efforts. Impressive.

3. My Julie Bees

This Atlanta-based shoe designer sells a wide range of women’s footwear and supports American workers and communities, quality fabrics and eco-friendly production processes.

4. Marais

Designer Haley Boyd started Marais USA after noticing a serious shortage of basic, high-quality women’s footwear. Five years after the brand’s 2009 launch, Boyd still believes that simple design should be accessible. While most Marais shoes are both eco and animal friendly (many styles are vegan), they’re also seriously chic and affordable.


You knew we’d include TOMS on this list. Aside from starting a footwear revolution (one that spurred countless knockoff designs), TOMS also brought the “buy one, give one” model to the mainstream. For more on TOMS and the mission behind this shoe designer turned mega brand, pick up a copy of founder Blake Mycoskie’s book, “Start Something That Matters,” in the DesignGood Good Book Shop.

6. Osborn

Osborn was included on our very first Design9 ever, and for good reason. This Brooklyn-based company has produced small batch, artisan made, eco-friendly footwear since 2008. Did we mention Osborn shoes are also super stylish? Give the e-shop a quick peek and you’ll see what we mean.

7. Nisolo

Nashville’s Nisolo emphasizes transparency. Read up on Nisolo’s Social Impact principles and learn about how the company produces its shoes. Nisolo also offers accessories, from luggage tags to handbags to bracelets, all produced with the same socially conscious focus.

8. Roma Boots

We love Roma both for its comfy, wear-every-day rain boots and for its mission to “Give poverty the boot!” by donating one pair of boots to a child in need for every pair sold. In case you were still on the fence, note that Roma also donates 10 percent of all proceeds to the Roma Foundation to assure those same children receive an education.

9. Belya Shoes

Looking to inject some print and pattern into your wardrobe? Give Belya a try. With a commitment to supporting African artisans for all aspects of production and employing African wax prints in all products, founder Aissatou Sene is building a successful, socially responsible business without sacrificing her artistic vision. We like that.

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