Running Shoes

Hi there, great to see all this info re running shoes but can anyone tell me which company's shoes are the ethical choice?


  • New balance are vegan, and made in Britain.

    Inov-8 similar if you're looking for offroad stuff.
  • Many thanks for that. I've looked onto the New Balance site and they say some shoes are made in the US, some in the UK but don't specify whether or not they have Corporate Social Responsibility. I checked the Asics site, they have more info on their policies and a link to the below site which details Fair Labour Annual Public Reports for many sports manufacturers.
  • You want to talk to Iron Duck Girl - she's a leftie vegan type, and will be able to point you towards the models that are made in Britain. She should be knocking around somewhere (to be honest I'm surprised she hasn't popped in here yet)
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    We all like to make ethical choices if possible, but for running the number one consideration for me is - are the shoes right for my running style? Sweatshop labour, vegan or non-vegan, political correctness etc come second to the need to avoid injury.
  • Surely we can have both? I'd like to find out. Where are you Iron Duck Girl??
  • I think NB are as good as you're going to get for a socially responsible shoe manufacturer. Their UK website used to show which shoes are made in the UK and which are made elsewhere.
  • Just ignore the New Balance Veal range....

    Yeah DG advocates NB - she was a big fan of the dear departed 854.

    That bloke from Coldplay wears NB - I'm sure he's looked into it all.
  • He drives a BMW X5 as well though. Like Muttley, he's probably socially responsible as long as it doesn't compromise him in any way....
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    Oooooh, RR, that's a wee bit unfair, doncha know!

    Sure I'd like to make the world a better place. But I'm also a biomechanical basket case, and if Nike shoes work best at stopping me from becoming even more of an old crock, then Nike shoes is what I'll buy.

    I leave others to claim the moral high ground.
  • I do apologise, having a bad day....
  • :-) It's not about claiming any moral high ground, it's just about being aware and making sure our purchases don't harm others, our wallets have enormous voting power, wouldn't it be great if we could all just get a great running shoe knowing that buying them doesn't mean we're perpetuating the harm of people outside of our reality? (I'm dead normal - honest)
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    Not offended, RR, no worries!

    And anyway, 6-year-old Malaysian kids need to eat too :-)
  • I agree with Muttley to be honest. I choose for comfort and personal fit. Its very nice to say you want to make sure your “purchases don't harm others” but in reality it’s a much larger job that that. Where is the sole manufactured, where do they get the rubber? What about the laces? The plastic for the lace ends.. the fabric for the shoe itself the material for the insole? Is it all manufactured by the company, where do they get their raw materials ?

    Even this site and its magazine, right down to ink paper and staples. Do RW have a socially acceptable policy, where do they source their paper, where is it farmed and how are they treated. What about their advertising?? Jump up a level to the Magicalia Company. They host the site and provided this lovely colour scheme! Are they behaving responsibly, where are they based, what is there energy consumption like, where are they servers manufactured? What about your ISP? How about you computer? Where any components made in third world countries?? What did you eat today? Where did that originate? What are those company polices? Where did the ingrediants come from! What soap do you use etc etc

    Frankly I could go on for pages in greater and greater detail. Yes it would be great to know my running shoes where not harming anyone else but my first concern I am afraid has to be are they harming me?
  • Samm, I totally agree with you and I do try to make purchase decisions with all these questions in mind. Of course we need our running shoes to be the best they can be, but is it possible to find a good running shoe from a socially responsible manufacturer?
  • If NB is good enough for Iron Duck Girl - its good enough for me.
  • New Balance Seem to get the best rap.. But then I'm not entirely convinced maybe call it the lesser amoung evils. Also Running bear be careful where you buy them though lol cause that opens another can of worms!
  • Oh dear - i'm the forum's token Lefty Vegan - i think i'll take it as a compliment.

    New Balance are (mostly) UK-made & vegan - their website will show you which are. They also do width fittings, which is muchly useful for people with Weird Feet like me, and they are primarily a Proper Running Shoe manufacturer (though they do do a few 'fashion shoes') - so they are the best place to start looking.

    Muttley, to some extent i do agree (i compromise on kit, 'cos there seems to be no such thing as fair-trade running vests) - but if it's important to you then you could try looking at New Balance first, & if they work for you - double-good. & I'm definitely a biomechanical mess - dyspraxic size-10 shoes aren't easy to find either :¬)
  • (sorry for the delay 2T et al - been off to stay with fellow vegan lefty runner - who does sub-2:45 maras - for a few days).
  • vegan + shoes? Are you looking for a new delicacy or something?
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    Well, the last time I went to my local Sweatshop (the retailer, not the .. oh never mind) for some shoe shopping I ended up with a pair of Asics. BUT I also found out that NB857s would be a decent second choice and they could well be my next purchase off t'internet.

    As for NB apparel - dunno if it's ethical or fair trade but it is excellent. They seem to have particularly soft and comfy fabrics. And a UK company, which is also a consideration.
  • I'm currently waiting for NB to get round to making 857s in 10AA - much to my annoyance, although they are listed on the website etc they just haven't got round to making my weird size yet :¬(
  • Most Nike clothing is made in Portugal...
  • Great - thanks for all the advice, I've just had this message from New Balance:

    "Thanks for your message.

    We manufacture over one million pairs of shoes each year in the UK factory in Cumbria (this figure is set to grow over the next 5 years) - all of our UK made shoes carry the Union Jack falg on the website

    With certain models, due to manufacturing constraints and issues with materials etc, we do outsource manufacturing to the Far East , but you can rest assured that these operations are thoroughly managed and monitored in accordance with our own ethical values and policies

    Hope this helps"

    Looks like it's unanimous.
    Cheers guys.
  • I did some digging a few years ago and also found that New Balance where probably the best bet, conscience-wise.

    If you are near the Lake District anytime soon, there's a decent New Balance factory outlet shop in the centre of Keswick (and another in Maryport I think) - got a pair of 'factory seconds' (the stitching was the wrong colour or something) 854s for about £25, plus discounted end of range tops and shorts, etc. Well worth a visit.
  • Ooooh, cheers for the tip Stephen, I'll bear that in mind.
  • Nike also has a corporate responsibility type thing...
  • This report from should help you to make an informed choice about buying running shoes ethically.

    It scores different companies against a range of criteria, which include environmental reporting, workers rights, financial practices (e.g. use of tax havens), use of leather and you can judge which criteria are important to you.

    On their score, Saucony and Brooks come out well of the mainstream brands.
  • By the way Iron Duck Girl, have you found a replacement for the 854s?

    I should probably be replacing mine soon and they seem to suit me, so I'd be interested to hear what other people have switched to.
  • Anyone can have a coporate ethics policy, but whether or not they actually ensure their suppliers adhere to it is another matter.

    Almost all the major brands buy from whichever factories can provide their shoes for the cheapest price, so they continually chop and change suppliers, mainly to whichever new free economic zone happens to have sprung up around the Pacific rim. So, there's no such thing as a 'Nike factory' or an 'Adidas factory'. This makes it almost impossible for any regulatory bodies to check whether any corporate ethical policies are being adhered to.

    NB have a long term supply relationship with 5 factories in China, for both complete shoes and shoe components. These factories are audited by an external (and independent) organisation (called 'Veritas, I think). They also have 1 factory in the UK, and 5 in the USA, which obviously have to meet domestic healtch and safety laws, minimum wage requirements etc.

    They were going to apply the same sourcing policy to apparel a couple of years ago - I assume they've done so now, but don't actually know.

    Interestingly (or not), basically ALL technical running shoe soles come from the same source, the Pou Chen corp in China. They manufacture for all the brands, at a factory which is the size of a small town and employs about 50,000 people. I've no idea what their working conditions are like, but the fixed costs of setting up to produce sole units are so large there's no chance of anyone else doing it, so we're all stuck. Unless you want to run barefoot.

    I'll get back off my soapbox now....
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