Words: Aimee-lee Abraham & Amanda Saxby
We’re well on our way through autumn here in the Northern hemisphere, which means boot season has arrived! If you’re looking for some leaf-crunching, waterproof finds to top up your capsule wardrobe, you’re in luck. We’ve found some truly incredible brands that we feel fit within the BuyMeOnce ethos. All of the pairs listed here are ethically made with sustainable materials, are exceptionally durable and are beautiful to boot!
BuyMeOnce Tip: When shopping for a solid pair of boots, the features should of course be prioritized according to individual needs. But here are a couple things you can keep in mind:
- Warmth. Look out for insulated linings and insoles. Some brands even provide temperature ratings, so you can determine if they’re suitable for your climate.
- Breathability. Letting your feet breathe keeps them happy and healthy. Look for breathable upper boot materials, quick-dry linings and anti-microbial properties.
- Traction. Need we say more? No one likes to end up on their tush in winter slush. Keep an eye out for boots with deep lugs, heel breaks and quality rubber outsoles.
- Waterproofing. Wet socks aren’t fun. If you live in a rainy city, be sure to look for boots that are made of waterproof materials. You can also search for gussetted tongues, cuffs and gaiters.
- Weight. Manufacturers should list the weight of their boots in the product description on their website. This should give you a good indication of whether you’ll be walking on air or dragging along iron.
- Ankle support. If you plan to do a lot of walking in your boots, be sure to get a pair with sturdy supports. Look out for things like full lacing systems, firm heels and elongated, strong boot shafts.
- Comfort. Self-explanatory. Check out boots with padded insoles and pronation control.
1. THE NORTH BOOT BY MATT AND NAT (£120)
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Sustainably produced. Although Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) eliminates the maelstrom of issues associated with factory-farmed leather, it’s carbon-intensive and non-biodegradable. As a vegan brand avoiding its use, Matt & Nat are a rare breed. These versatile, durable boots are made from PVC’s cousin, Polyurethane (PU), which is far kinder to landfill (Hurrah!).
- Ethically produced. They’re crafted in a factory that meets the SA8000 standard (ensuring fair pay and transparency on the production line).
- Versatile and stylish. They’re ideal for dressing up or down, so you can invest in just one pair to accommodate several looks or occasions. They’re also the perfect happy medium to transition from autumn to winter — they’re warm enough for cooler temperatures, yet breathable for unpredictable sunny spells.
- Reuse and Recycle. The brand earns extra BuyMeOnce brownie points for recycling. The patterned outsole of this boot is made from recycled rubber, providing intense grip in slushy conditions. Furthermore, Matt & Nat line all of their bags with repurposed plastic bottles, reinforcing their commitment to the environment and sustainability.
2. THE KNEE-LENGTH BLACK BOOT BY WILLS VEGAN SHOES (£104)
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Ethically produced. Wills is an “animal- and human-friendly company.” Similar to Matt and Nat, Wills creates vegan shoes using PU, which is an eco-friendly and animal-free synthetic leather. The company also treats every employee in their Portuguese factory fairly and provides payment per European guidelines.
- Water resistant and breathable. The brand uses a microfibre PU leather for all of their faux leather shoes; this material is breathable, lightweight, extremely durable and naturally water resistant. So you never have to worry about leaky soles or smelly socks!
- Traction. We love that these boots feature a grippy thermoplastic rubber (TR) sole. TR is lightweight, weather, water and temperature resistant and performs like vulcanized rubber. These soles will keep you from sliding even in the most slippery conditions. The best part is that TR is completely reusable and recyclable.
- Fashionable. Wills’ boots fill the void in the stylish vegan shoe category. The company’s designs are classic, yet they have a contemporary edge that rivals high street styles. They’re a perfect combination of ethics and fashion.
3. THE SOFT PULL ON BOOT BY CONKER SHOES (£265)
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Sustainable. Conker shoes are built to last and are made from high quality natural, sustainable materials to produce minimal environmental impact. These boots are sturdy, strong and perfect for leaf-crunching.
- Fully customisable. Grab a buddy if you’re planning on ordering a pair of Conkers boots! Every pair of Conkers shoes you purchase are completely personalized down to the leather type, colour and sole; you’ll need to send them foot drawings and measurements to ensure the perfect fit. Don’t worry, you’ll only have to do this once, since they keep your details on file.
- Hand-made. Each Conker shoe is lovingly hand-made to provide maximum comfort and quality. The brand prides themselves on equipping their customers with shoes that are as unique as they are.
- Repair policy. Conker’s greatest selling point is their repair policy; repairing shoes creates less waste, which we are all for. If at any point during the lifetime of the shoes, they need a stitch resown or a sole mended, they will rebuild your entire shoe to guarantee it’s done correctly. They also offer advice and quotes along the way so that you aren’t slapped with an exorbitant fee at the end. Children’s shoes can even be rebuilt up an entire size for a minimal fee!
4. THE LILY PAGE LEATHER BOOT BY FORTRESS OF INCA (VIA MADEFAIR) (£175)
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Classic look. These boots are extremely versatile and come in a neutral camel colour, perfect for any outfit you choose to pair them with. Furthermore, the full lacing system provides maximum ankle support and keeps them them firmly in place whether you’re strolling the shopping centre or the park.
- Ethically produced. MadeFair dedicates their online shop to brands that produce ethically sound, built-to-last clothing, shoes and jewelry. And each of MadeFair’s suppliers must satisfy the requirements of their rigorous checklist before they include them on their site. (Sounds familiar!) Fortress of Inca likewise believe in the importance of ethical production. They provide their Peruvian shoemakers with excellent working conditions, health care, paid maternity leave and livable wages. The company uses local natural materials, and their designers ensure product quality and durability.
- Environmental commitment. Fortress of Inca do something extraordinary: they repurpose byproducts of the meat industry — organic waste that would otherwise be cast aside and damage the planet — and use it for their leather!
- Handmade. Each pair of Fortress of Inca boots is lovingly crafted by superior shoemakers in Peru. Handmade leather shoes, although generally more expensive, are higher quality, durable and perfected down to the tiniest detail. You’ll never go amiss with a boot created by a master craftsman.
5. THE 1460 CLASSIC FOR LIFE BOOT BY DR. MARTENS (£165)
WHY WE LOVE THEM
- Guaranteed for life. Doc Martens’ For Life range comes with a no quibble lifetime guarantee. This means that should your shoes wear out, they will repair or replace them, no ifs, ands or buts. So you can go on looking stylish for ages.
- Ethically produced. The brand believes in their factory workers and employees, meaning they treat everyone with respect and with equal fairness. They’re also exceptionally transparent about their practices — you can view Dr Martens’ entire code of conduct on their website.
- Sustainable materials. Durable, responsibly-sourced leather is the main material used in the production of Dr Martens’ shoes. Furthermore, they never use animal fur, skin or leather from exotic wild animals or endangered species in their shoes.
- Recyclable packaging. Each pair of Dr Martens’ boots arrive in fully recyclable packaging, down to the soy-based ink. They also aim to reduce landfill waste through their “Give a Toss” campaign. The company sends all recyclable material to processing centres and sells the remaining non-recyclable waste to be made into playground matting and fuel pellets.