The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Image by Nisolo
Image by Nisolo
The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Image by VYN
Image by VYN

The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know

The SJ Team


Have you ever had a pair of shoes that you’ve literally run into the ground? 

Looking at you, beloved Converse from high school…

Sometimes you hit the jackpot and find a pair of shoes that you want to wear every day—especially useful if you’re curating a minimalist wardrobe—but what do you do when those beloved shoes wear out? 

If they’re not repairable shoes, your options for what to do with old shoes are still numerous, but perhaps not the life-extending solution you were hoping for. 

Wait, repairable shoes? Are shoes even repairable?

You bet (or should we say boot?). 

Repairable shoes used to be a common go-to fix, back when clothing (and products in general) were higher quality, durable, and could be repaired again and again. 

But you know what they say ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’.

Especially with the rise of fast fashion, shoes and clothing are designed to hit the landfill after their relatively short life. Those discarded shoes then contribute to the millions of tons of textile waste that gets sent to landfills every year.

If you opt for shoes that can be repaired, you divert waste and prevent the manufacturing impact that would come from buying a new pair.

It’s time to get back to the sole of the issue: Enter the repairable shoe.

Repairable Shoes: Repairs, Cobblers, DIY & Brands

 What Is A Repairable Shoe?

Repairable shoes are exactly what you would assume: shoes that can be repaired or fixed.

There are many different types of repairs that can be done on shoes to help them last longer, but a good rule of thumb as to what constitutes a “repairable shoe” is to determine whether or not the soles and heels can be replaced.

The soles and heels of the shoe wear out much faster than the uppers (main body) of the shoe, so replacing these parts are the most common shoe repairs. 

What Kind of Shoes Can Be Repaired?

Types of shoes that typically work well for repairs include high heels, loafers, flats, dress boots, work boots, and sandals. 

What’s the common theme among these types of repairable shoes?

That’s right! Shoes that are the most consistently repairable are ones made out of leather (or some vegan leather alternatives).

Leather is a durable and sturdy material, and while they may be a pricer option, repairable leather shoes last far longer both by dint of resisting breaking down and being more conducive to repairs when they do.

While most shoe brands these days don’t actively advertise the repairability of their shoes, it doesn’t mean their shoes can’t be repaired. 

Speaking of which, who’s going to be repairing these shoes?

There are some shoe repairs you can take care of at home, but if you want to take advantage of professionals with years of artisanal expertise, then you want to take your shoes to the cobbler.

What Can A Cobbler Repair?

Cobblers are a repairable shoe’s best friend. 

Most often they find themselves repairing or replacing soles (a process called resoling) and heels. 

Other possible fixes include (but are not limited to) fixing or replacing straps, redoing loose stitching, stretching tight heels, replacing the lining, dyeing shoes different colors, and repairing chewing damage from your beloved pup.

With years of experience under their belt (err, shoe?) in the cobbling business, Cobblers Direct can consult with you for free over text or video regarding your particular shoe repair needs. 

If they determine your hiking shoes are actually repairable hiking shoes, their mail-in service makes the process easy.

What Can’t A Cobbler Repair?

Unfortunately, there are some types of shoe damage that even the best cobblers can’t fix. 

Repairable sneakers, for instance, are a rarity. Standard shoe repairs like resoling typically aren’t possible for sneakers and similar types of shoes. Once the sole is worn out, so too is the whole shoe.

While your dog may use your shoe as a chew toy and get away with it, your shoe might not be so lucky. There are some types of damage that are too severe to repair. 

Check with your local or online shoe cobbler to be sure. Often the price of a repair ends up costing less than purchasing a whole new pair of shoes. 

How Much Does It Cost To Repair Shoes?

The cost of a particular repair depends on what needs to be fixed and whether you do it yourself or hire a cobbler. 

Prices for cobblers vary from region to region, but most online cobbler-by-mail companies offer basic repairs for less than $100USD. 

There are some more extensive repairs that will cost more, but remember that you are paying for years of specialized expertise—and still likely walking away with more in your pocket than if you’d had to splurge on a new pair.

Especially if you have an expensive, durable pair of kicks, it is worth prolonging your investment. 

DIY Repairable Shoes

There are also some shoe repairs you can DIY. 

If the sole of your sneaker is coming away from the fabric of the shoe, a bottle of shoe glue and some drying time will reattach it in a jiffy. 

You can also replace laces and insoles yourself as long as you have the appropriate replacement part.

Whether you want to repair your shoes at home or take them to a cobbler, always consider repairing your shoes before recycling them. Repairing shoes prolongs their life and encourages a thoughtful mindset. 

What About Shoes That Can’t Be Repaired?

If your shoes have been to a cobbler and declared unsalvageable, the next step is to thank the shoes for their service and recycle them responsibly. 

Here are some options:

1. See if the brand you purchased them from has a reclamation program.

Some brands will either refurbish the old pair of shoes so that they can be given a second life or recycle them into something new. 

Here are some ethical shoe brands and organizations that do this:

  • Nike: Any Nike store will take any kind of athletic shoe to make into new Nikes or turn into industrial materials like playground and track surfacing.
  • Vivobarefoot
  • LANGBRETT
  • VEJA 
  • Thousand Fell 
  • Nothing New
  • Soles4Souls: This non-profit that turns old clothing and shoes into opportunities for impoverished people to break the cycle of poverty. 

2. See if you can recycle them in your area.

Recycling locally is always preferable as it reduces the carbon output associated with shipping.

3. Ship them to TerraCycle. 

If your local recycling center is not equipped to properly recycle shoes, TerraCycle offers a ZeroWaste box that you can purchase, fill with shoes to recycle, and send back to them to process. Consider sharing a box between a few friends to cut the cost!

Repairable Shoe Brands

You’ve repaired the shoes that can be repaired and responsibly donated and recycled those you can’t, but you still need a new pair of kicks—now what?

One of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your shoes is to purchase well-made shoes right off the bat. 

Choosing to purchase thoughtfully made footwear not only supports sustainable and ethical business practices, but also leaves you with a product that you can repair again and again for maximum usage. 

Some brands speak directly to the repairability of their shoes and some don’t; the trick is to support brands that are transparent about their production practices so you can gain insight into how their shoes are sourced and constructed. 

If your prospective pair of kicks was handmade, chances are it can be repaired. 

Here are some of our favorite repairable shoes.

Repairable Shoe Brands We Love


1. VYN

The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Images by VYN
Images by VYN

About VYN

VYN is a Swiss -sneaker brand that has designed their repairable sneakers to have components (such as heels) that can be replaced at home. 

Because the heel components are interchangeable, VYN also offers different colors so you can customize your shoe to suit your style.

VYN has a core collection of classic street sneakers—not something you want to run in, but perfect for jaunting around town or on your carbon-reducing transportation method of choice. 

They’re available in both leather and suede, with a few classy color choices.

VYN’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices

Materials:

VYN sources all materials and components from European certified partners. 

Their leather is sourced from regenerative farms and is carbon neutral and ECO₂L certified. VYN has full visibility into where their leather is sourced and how it is processed, so they can follow a hide from the farm to the tannery. 

Additionally, the cork used in the insoles is 100% recyclable, and the operation that produces the soles themselves holds the Bureau Veritas’ environmental certification.

Supply chain & labor practices:

All of VYN’s repairable leather shoes are produced in a family-run factory in Italy, ensuring fair labor practices and a low CO2 footprint. 

VYN works closely with their producers to not just create their handcrafted sneakers, but also to participate in the product development that has resulted in their beautiful repairable sneakers.

Green business practices: 

VYN was founded on the premise that there is a better way to make sneakers using the philosophy “Wear, Care, Repair”. 

They are focused on creating a circular system for their sneakers, which is one of the reasons why they emphasize the repairability of their shoes. 

Available: Vyn


2. GORAL

The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Images by GORAL
Images by GORAL

About GORAL

GORAL is a UK-based shoe brand that offers a lifetime repair guarantee for all of their handmade repairable work shoes and casual shoes. 

Every shoe they produce is handcrafted in their family workshop, meaning they can directly oversee the quality and repairability of every pair they sell. 

While they only specialize in repairable men’s shoes, they offer several styles of trainers, loafers, and boots.

International shipping and repair services ensure that no matter where you’re based you can still enjoy their products.

GORAL’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices

Materials:

GORAL shoes feature full grain leather or suede uppers, insocks, and linings. Some pairs also utilize cotton corduroy in the uppers.

A unique Blake Stitch construction allows for the separation of the insole and outsole from the upper allowing for easy replacement through their REBUILD+ service.

If the insoles and waxed cotton laces wear out, you can buy those separately to replace yourself.

Supply chain & labor practices:

GORAL produces all their shoes in house at their Britain based workshop in order to maintain the integrity of their vision for sustainable, ethical footwear. 

Most components are sourced locally in Britain (like the renowned Charles F Steads tannery in Leeds) or from nearby tanneries in Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

Green business practices: GORAL offers a lifetime repair guarantee on all their shoes, meaning that they will happily take care of any repairs needed during the usable life of the pair (at a reasonable cost). That way you don’t have to source your own cobbler, and the shoes are maintained for longer.

You can also shop their REPURPOSED line to help put factory leftovers and scraps to good use.

While we’re not yet sure if their leather is tanned using chrome-free, eco-friendly methods, we at least know that leather is designed to last a very long time.

Sourcing locally reduces emissions and they also offset carbon output from shipping to consumers—which they do using locally-sourced FSC-certified packaging.

Available: GORAL


3. Vivobarefoot

The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Images by Vivobarefoot
Images by Vivobarefoot

Barefoot is the bestest, or so Vivobarefoot says.

A Certified B Corp, Vivo sells sustainable running shoes to lifestyle shoes, all incorporating barefoot, feet-friendly technology that support the natural shape and needs of feet.

Their shoes range from ballet flats to rain boots to repairable running shoes.

Currently, their repair service is only available to folks in the UK, but they’re working on developing partnerships with Vivo-approved cobblers globally. 

Vivo’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices

Materials:

While their materials are not yet completely sustainable, Vivo does put a significant emphasis on incorporating more sustainable fabrics into their designs, such as algae and corn-based foam and natural rubber outsoles.. 

One-third of their shoes are made with some recycled plastic bottle components and many others feature natural materials like cotton, hemp, wool, and Wild Hide leather.

For leather that biodegrades in 25-50 years less time than cow leather, check out their camel hide options.

Supply chain & labor practices:

As a Certified B Corp, Vivobarefoot has committed to transparent business practices, including revealing their supply chain and labor policies.

Their leather sourced as a byproduct from small-scale farmers in Ethiopia and tanned in an ISO 14001-compliant facility.

Shoes are made in Vietnam, Portugal, or Ethiopia in ethically monitored factories.

Green business practices 

Minimalist, 3D printed shoes means fewer materials and manufacturing waste.

With the goal of eventually making entirely closed-loop footwear, their Revivo line either repairs shoes for resale (or for return to you) or recycles shoes that can’t be repaired into new ones.

You can learn more about where Vivo is in their sustainability journey by reading their recent impact report on their website. 

Community & charitable giving:

This brand’s Livebarefoot Foundation serves as an in-house sector for getting staff involved with volunteering, supporting regenerative projects, and providing loans for social enterprises.

They regularly donate funds or products to organizations like Beaver Trust, Future Footwear Foundation, Business for Nature, and more.

Available: Vivobarefoot


4. Nisolo

The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Images by Nisolo
Images by Nisolo

About Nisolo

Ethical labor practices are the core of Nisolo’s business framework, and each pair of their shoes, sustainable handbags, and other accessories are handmade by fairly paid artisans. 

Handmade shoes are typically conducive to repair, so you can rest assured that a pair of shoes from Nisolo will be a long term footwear investment if cared for properly. 

They have repairable male shoes and female shoes for every need and lifestyle, ranging from ethical heels and flats to a weather-resistant range designed for commuters. 

Nisolo’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices

Materials:

Most of Nisolo’s shoes are primarily made with leather for maximum durability and repairability – though they do have some vegan leather options.

Ever concerned with reducing waste, the leather Nisolo uses is sourced as a byproduct from the tanning industry, and 95% of their tanneries are LWG-certified.

Supply chain & labor practices:

Nisolo believes every worker deserves a living wage, and all Nisolo partners offer wages and employee support above and beyond the minimum for each region. 

As co-founders of the Lowest Wage Challenge, they hold themselves accountable by sharing the lowest wages in their supply chain.

The factories Nisolo owns or partners with span several continents—such as their own Peruvian factory which manufactures most of their shoes—but the people-first ethos verified by third-party audits is consistent regardless of location. 

Green business practices

Nisolo has a laundry list of sustainable credentials, including B Corp Certified, Climate Neutral Certified (with a 0% net carbon commitment), and a #1 Re/Make brand. 

While they do not offer a repair service themselves, offering classically-built leather models means most cobblers will be able to work on Nisolo shoes. So if you’re seeking dress shoes for men with repairable soles, they’re still a suitable option.

Keep up to date with Nisolo’s mission by perusing their latest impact report

Community & charitable giving:

While they don’t repair shoes, they do have a shoe reclamation program that recycled old shoes through Soles4Souls, helping support underserved communities.

Available: Nisolo


5. ABLE

The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Images by ABLE
Images by ABLE

Another people-first brand, ABLE sells repairable women’s shoes, as well as clothes, jewelry, and accessories. 

Their life-long product repair or replacement guarantee extends to their shoes, from sustainable flats to sandals.

If you’re aiming for repairability then it would be best to stick to their leather boots, heels, and loafers – they sell sneakers, but those aren’t always repairable. 

ABLE’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

ABLE uses a wide variety of materials for their shoes, including various types of leather, synthetic fabrics, and plant fibers. 

The cow leather ABLE uses is sourced as a by-product of the meat industry, and they only partner with LWG-certified tanneries in Portugal and Brazil that utilize clean water practices. 

They also use alternative leathers (snake leather and Napa leather from sheep, lamb, or kid skin) but we’d avoid these since we haven’t yet been able to confirm the sourcing for these materials.

Supply chain & labor practices:

ABLE is currently implementing a policy to publicly publish their lowest wages. They’ve released several wage lists so far, and are aiming to have the lowest wages published for all their manufacturing partners.

This gives them accountability to fair labor standards, and promotes transparency we’d like to see more brands emulate. You can also see where each shoe was made in its product description.

They also offer extensive benefits to their employees.

Green business practices 

When it comes to shipping, ABLE is currently transitioning to cloth bags for their shoes (as opposed to poly ones) and FSC-certified boxes.

ABLE also repurposes their shipping boxes to minimize waste.

Available: ABLE


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How We Found The Best Repairable Shoes

For the brands on this list we specifically looked for companies that explicitly marketed the repairability of their shoes and maintained responsible business practices. 

However, this (obviously) doesn’t mean that these are the only repairable shoes out there. 

So keep these sustainable and ethical fashion criteria in mind as you look for your next long-term pair of shoes.

Materials:

Shoes made from natural plant and animal fibers tend to be easier to repair than shoes made from synthetic fabrics. Such materials are typically sewn rather than glued, which lends itself to a more seamless repair job.

While ethical leather is a dubious concept at best, it’s still perhaps the best around in terms of durability and repairability.

Make sure to check what materials the soles and heels are made out of, too. Cork, leather, and natural rubber are all great options, and straightforward to replace when the time comes. 

Supply chain & labor practices

We want to make sure the companies we are purchasing from maintain ethical labor practices and sourcing policies. Transparent companies will make this information easy to find. Third-party certifications can help, but B-Corp greenwashing while rare can still occur.

Green business practices:

Good quality, repairable shoes are almost always handmade using techniques that make replacing parts relatively easy.

Beyond that, we like seeing brands using carbon offset programs, regenerative materials, recycled or biodegradable packing materials, closed-loop manufacturing methods, and anything else to reduce their carbon footprint.

Community & charitable giving:

In addition to donating to social causes, many sustainable shoe companies participate in reclamation and donation programs, so check to see how you can participate.


Final Thoughts On Repairable Men’s & Women’s Shoes

So, can old shoes be repaired?

Abso-boot-ly!

One of the core tenets of living sustainably means minimizing waste, and repairing your shoes is one way to do that. 

Not only that, but repairing a much-loved pair of shoes maximizes their longevity and your enjoyment from them. 

Whether taking your favorite chukkas to a cobbler or utilizing an online clothes repair service, being mindful of what we own and properly caring for our stuff is a big step toward being a conscious consumer. 

And you can help keep this circular mindset moving in more ways than one by circulating this article among your fellow shoe enthusiasts.

Pin these:
The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Image by VYN
The 5 Best Repairable Shoe Brands You Shoe-d Know #repairableshoes #repairableshoebrands #whatisarepairableshoe #bestrepairableshoes #sustainablejungle Image by GORAL

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