Finding a pair of durable summer shoes really shouldn’t feel like a gargantuan task. All they need to be is airy enough to keep you cool, yet sturdy enough to stand up to those long summer rambles... Of course, they should also be stylish enough for you to love wearing them, versatile enough to go with everything you own, comfortable enough not to leave you hobbling home in agony and, if at all possible, ethically made.
If that feels overwhelming then never fear! We’ve done some digging and come up with five incredible brands who tick all the boxes. Think stunning craftsmanship, lifetime guarantees, thoughtful design and ethical production with designs for both men and women. Wave bye bye to flip-flops that spring apart at the toe after a single week; these sturdy summer classics will last you a lifetime.
Oliberté make beautiful, handcrafted shoes each with a lifetime warranty. As if that wasn’t enough, they are also doing amazing work supporting workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Each and every single pair of Oliberté shoes are handmade in their ethically run factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear factory in 2013.
The styles are simple but stylish, the kind you can imagine being just as in love with 50 years down the line. They’re a member of 1% for the Planet, an international organization dedicated to saving the planet by donating at least 1% of their annual sales. They’re a certified B Corporation and Fair Trade certified. They’re really, really hard to fault!
We love the Mazowi flats for women, a sturdy yet elegant shoe that will elevate any summer outfit with style, and the Narivo suede shoes for men. These stylish beauties will keep those ankles cool when you need something a little bit more solid than sandals.
Flip flops are hands-down the worst culprits when it comes to throwaway footwear and a bigger problem than many people realize, especially in the developing world. (Ocean Sole is a wonderful charity in Kenya raising awareness one colorful, impactful artwork at a time!) It can be tempting to buy cheap plastic flip flops each summer, but when they’re both damaging the environment and leave you running the high risk of having to hop home across burning hot sand, we think it’s worth investing in quality.
We love the Voyager range by Reef. These expertly designed flip flop style sandals are guaranteed for life and crafted from genuine leather, making them beautifully durable and stylish enough to throw on and off throughout the summer. Even better, by supporting Reef you are actively helping support the ocean cleanup rather than adding to the problem. Reef are co-founders of the Better Beach Alliance which supports beach cleanups, trash removal and volunteers!
Combining a fun and distinctive seventies style with passion for lasting quality, it’s no surprise we’re in love with Swedish Hasbeens. Their shoes are still handmade by skilled artisans in small, traditional factories in Europe using 100% vegetable leather and the best lime tree and alder wood, always crafted from one solid piece. You can feel the quality and durability just from holding them in your hand.
The Pearl Sky High Heeled Sandals are perfect for high summer glamour but for a more versatile shoe we love the Suzanne Debutant Clogs. Super pretty but practical, these will go with casual outfits as well as more dressy looks no problem.
ABLE offer handcrafted goods with a focus on empowering women in the developing world, meaning you get a beautifully crafted product along with the knowledge your money is supporting a great cause. The styles are simple yet stylish, plus ABLE offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime guarantee on all their leather products. We love the Joselyne Double Strap Sandal in metallic (it also comes in cognac and leopard print), the perfect sandal for injecting some low-effort, high-impact glamour into summer outfits!
It’s difficult to think of a more classic summer shoe than the Birkenstocks Arizona. Whilst they are known mainly for being plastered to the feet of celebrities over the years, these simple sliders have proved far more than a fleeting fashion fad. They’re cleverly constructed to support the natural shape of your foot, and are made using high-quality cork and leather that mould to your feet over time. We also love that Birkenstocks are designed to be worn-out and repaired; simply return them to the repair centre for new soles, buckles and footbeds at a reasonable repair cost. No matter what the fashionistas are saying, the iconic Birkenstocks will always be firm BuyMeOnce favourites.