Sneakers not made is sweatshops

I want to buy a new pair of shoes, but i dont want them to have been made in a sweat shop in the jungle of Malaysia. Are there any shoe companies with factories only in the USA?:confused:

factories usually aren’t located in the jungle. most shoes are made by contract in China. good luck finding any these days made in the US

What kind of shoes?

No-sweat shoes:

Doc Marten’s, made in England. Boots, dress shoes, etc. Can find an outlet in any major city.

Vegetarian Shoes, also made in England, with the added benefit (for vegetarians) of also being leather-free. They even have veggie-Docs (I own a pair, and yes they’re quite durable). Plus other boots, shoes, steel-toed workboots, dress shoes, veggie-Birkenstocks, etc.

Hersey Custom Shoes, custom-made sneakers/running-shoes hand-built in Maine.

Major downside to no-sweat shoes though – expect to pay an arm and a leg. Hersey’s are about $300 for the first pair ($100 of that goes for making the last that the shoes are built on, so you won’t be charged again for any future pairs), and I paid 65 pounds for my Docs from Vegetarian Shoes (about $100).

People who work in “sweat shops” gotta eat too you know.

I know that Converse USED to have a plant in rural North Carolina - don’t know if it’s still open, though.

Co-op America rates some sneaker companies, and you can search thier Green Pages for eco-friendly companies.

You could also look for cruety-free (non-leather) shoes like those at Pangea, since they are maybe more likely to be sympathetic to the sweatshop issue.

However, the most eco-friendly choice, in my opinion, is to buy used. You conserve resources, and regardless of how the shoes were originally made, you can squeeze a little more use out of a product and lessen the demand for more consumer goods (and, thus, more sweatshops, etc.) Also, there are many fabulous and unique items to be had at thrift stores and yard sales.

But if we need/want new, there are plenty of options.


Your post really touched me! It is really cool that you suggested resale to keep demand down and lengthen the use of already made products. :slight_smile:

I find it rather creepy that there are so many stores, selling so many things, and leaving a bunch of trash to clutter the planet. Don’t you just love this disposable world. :rolleyes:


Most New Balances are made in the USA, IIRC.

Here’s one way to try to find shoes that are made in the USA–put “shoes made in usa” into Google. Browse. Good luck. :smiley:

Sample hits:
New Balance

And, of course, for the Politically Correct Shoe Fetishist: :smiley:

If anybody’s interested, here’s the FTC’s ruling on New Balance shoes.

Short-term detriment for long-term benefit. :wink:

I’ve worn Saucony sneakers for about four years.

Link to Saucony

Made in ME and PA.

There are sweatshops in the USA too, you know. Besides, the “made in the usa” label doesn’t mean much. Ever heard of Saipan?

I know you didn’t mean it but your question is quite biased and shows a lack of understanding about some basic facts. I used to work in the shoe industry so I do have some understanding of this issue.

Just because shoes are made overseas DOES NOT mean that they are made in a “sweat shop”. A “sweat shop” implies that the workers are mistreated, work in poor conditions, and get paid less than a living wage in the country that they are located in. That is not the case at all. There are several large factories in China, Malaysia, the Phillipines, and Brazil that produce shoes under contract for many different American shoe makers and for shoe makers around the world. American shoe companies do not typically own the factories overseas where their shoes are made. These are modern factories, not shops. They have high-tech equipment, and modern assembly lines.

Shoe companies are VERY sensitive to the sweat shop stereotype because it can be disasterous for PR if the media portrays it that way. The company that I worked for sent HR personell to each factory that we contracted with at least once a year. I presume that other shoe companies were sending their people for inspections all the time too. The HR people looked at working conditions, safety issues, worker’s contracts, and talked with management and workers. If they found issues in any of these areas, we simply moved our contracts to another factory.

Of course workers in the China, Malaysia get paid less than they would in the United States. That is the companies use them. It simply costs too much to make shoes in the U.S. and still be competitive although there are a couple of holdouts. However, those shoe factories are giving workers jobs and living wages in countries where they and their families could quite possibly starve if those did not give them an opportunity to make those shoes. You seem to want to deprive them of that and do it under the premise of being noble when you are helping to deprive less developed countries of economic development.

So what? The fact that the American companies does not always own these factories does not absolve them of all responsibility for what goes on there in producing the shoes that these companies sell. And the fact that a company has “high-tech equipment, and modern assembly lines” means absolutely nothing. Poor treatment of workers is not simply a pre-industrial, pre-technological phenomenon, and to suggest that it is shows either wilful ignorance or extreme naivete.

You’re right - that’s why shoe companies like Nike spend a fortune on PR and on joining rather meaningless “anti-sweatshop” groups rather than actually doing anything about the situation itself. Nike refused to join the more useful Workers’ Rights Consortium, and Philip Knight stopped giving money to his alma mater, U. Oregon, when it proclaimed support for the WRC. You really hit the nail on the head here - the shoe companies are far more concerned with public perception than with altering actual conditions for their workers. If they can spin the story, concrete changes won’t have to be made.

The fact that there are still some “holdouts” shows that it may indeed be financially viable, if the company is willing to pay its workers a little more and sacrifice a little (but by no means all) profit.

And BTW, when people said that New Balance shoes were made in the US, i went and checked my pair, and the label on the inside says very clearly: Made in China.

In fact, New Balance is the brand of running shoe they give out at boot camp in the US Navy. Apparently, it’s the only cheap brand that’s made entirely in the US (the Navy will only disperse made-in-America items).


Many shoes are now made in Indonesia. My last 3 pairs of Nikes have been anyway.

I wish sports stars would stop taking loads of money to advertise their products.

We are not going to have a debate about sweatshops, foreign made shoes, or similar in this forum.

Does there remain a General Question on the table?


The General Question on the table - if I can rephrase it - is how can you determine the labor conditions under which shoes are manufactured, and avoid those produced under conditions you consider unjust. This question has a factual answer, and most of responses have been helpful. It only becomes a debate if posters criticize underlying premise of the question, that it’s OK to take labor conditions into account when making consumer choices, or if they debate the meaning of fair labor practices.

[Homer Simpson voice]ooooh, the big bad moderator is laying down the law, we all better be careful what we say, ooooooooh[/Homer Simpson voice] :slight_smile:

Seriously, the question of exactly what a sweatshop is and where they are located is crucial in answering a question like this. I know the world might be a beautiful place if every general question had a simple one-sentence answer that was final and irrefutable, but it just ain’t so.

And even if we restrict ourselves to the simple question of where the shoes are made, the fact that some people allege that New Balance shoes are made in the US, while my pair clearly says “Made in China,” shows that there are many different factual issues to sort out.

I didn’t agree with Shagnasty’s characterization of shoe companies, but the issues s/he raises are important for this question. Should this be a question of just looking for shoes made in the US? chula’s response suggests that further inquiry may be necessary on this point. And, even if shoe companies outside the US do not have sweatshop conditions, should the “Made in USA” tag, in itself, be sufficient reason to buy shoes here? Or is it not important where they are made, as long as the workers are fairly treated and remunerated?

Surely these are some issues that the OP was thinking about in formulating his/her question. Of course, we may just be able to answer “yes” to the OP question, but chula’s point shows that this may not help the OP escape from the ethical dilemma that motivated the question in the first place.