Why this eco-friendly shoe brand should be on your radar

Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu December 6, 2018

Story highlights

  • Nisolo, a direct-to-consumer brand, focuses on ethically made footwear and accessories
  • Its best-selling styles include the Calano Oxford and Paloma Mule

Editor's note: From now through January 5, Nisolo is offering CNN readers an exclusive 15% off discount. Use promo code "CNN15" for savings.

More and more, we're paying attention to where our personal belongings come from. From our clothing to our bedding to our skincare products, we've been taking a closer look at how the ingredients and processes used to make them can affect the people around us and our environment.

Take your average pair of leather shoes, for example. Leather production can pose some pretty serious environmental risks if tanneries don't dispose of chemicals properly. And as with many segments of the clothing industry, cheap fashion options may have been made by workers who aren't paid a fair wage.

One company that's addressing these issues in the leather shoe industry is Nisolo. The footwear and accessory brand is dedicated to its supply chain. Nisolo creates its products as eco-consciously as possible, using upcycled materials for all of its jewelry as well as using leather that is a byproduct of the meat industry to help minimize waste. In addition, the brand has a Shoe Reclamation Program that focuses on reusing and recirculating products and material. The goal is that by 2020, they will have at least 5,000 pairs of shoes to distribute to the non-profit Soles4Souls. And as part of Nisolo's Ecosphere+ program, a portion of the brand's sales goes directly toward protecting the Peruvian Amazon (in 2018, Nisolo aimed to save 60,000 trees from being uprooted).

The brand also employs local artisans around the world who treat the footwear creation process as art form. They are compensated a fair wage; Nisolo says the average salary of its producers is 27% higher than fair trade wage requirements. In addition, they're given healthy and safe working environments, as well as health care.

This is great if you're looking for a brand that checks off the boxes for ethically made and eco-friendly. Even better is the fact that these styles are seriously cool.

Nisolo's shoes span a number of styles, including mules, boots, sneakers, Oxfords, loafers, slip-ons and sandals. All of them feature clean designs that can easily translate from outfit to outfit, so you can feel good about dressing the footwear up or down. Some of the best-selling styles on the site right now include the Andres All Weather Boot ($299; nisolo.com), the Emilio Chukka Boot ($198; nisolo.com) and the Luciano Boot ($259; nisolo.com) for men and the Ecuador Huarache Sandal ($94; nisolo.com), the Dari Boot ($238; nisolo.com), the Emma d'Orsay Oxford ($188; nisolo.com) and the Chelsea Boot ($228; nisolo.com) for women. Nisolo also offers stunning, understated jewelry (starting at $18; nisolo.com), as well as everyday bags and backpacks (starting at $58; nisolo.com).

But aside from its philosophy and designs, something that we especially admire is the quality of Nisolo's footwear. After testing out pairs for ourselves over the course of a few months, we were impressed with how sturdy these shoes really are. And some of the brand's newer styles are made to be that much more durable. Its newer collection of men's boots uses Vibram rubber soles and water resistant leather that can stand up against the elements. Its Luciano Boot too features Goodyear Welt construction, which makes the shoes both sturdier and easier to re-sole.

The company's principles will make you feel proud about the bag, shoes or jewelery you're sporting -- and so will the cool, long-lasting designs.