Australian made shoes are highly sought after. Once a roaring trade out of Victoria, there are only a few manufacturers left in the country, and for this reason, the products are not cheap. On top of that, making shoes is a loooong process that takes dedicated tools and skills that are being lost due to offshoring and shortcuts that swap quality for quantity. Despite the difficulty, there are a few brands who are dedicated to keeping the quality craftsmanship alive, here and around the world. What’s better? They’re working with quality leathers or sustainable alternatives to help reduce environmental impact and impact to animals. These are my top picks for Australian made shoes.
R.M Williams is once again an Australian-owned company, and the majority of the brand’s quality footwear is still hand crafted from a single piece of leather in South Australia. The classic R.M leather boots are known for their quality and the brand offers repairs on worn and damaged shoes for a fraction of the cost – replacing the heel and sole after years of use. It’s worth investing in a pair of these classic kicks.
Designed and assembled in Melbourne, Nelson Made makes slips and sandals with leathers, linens and rubber soles. The brand says it aims to make shoes with a small environmental impact, with a commitment to making sustainable pieces in a slow fashion, small batch model. Nelson Made sources materials with the “lowest possible environmental and human impact while still being suitable for footwear production.” They say they use vegetable tanned leathers that are dyed with less harmful chemicals than chromium tanned hides. While the designs are simple, the fabrics are often bold, making the shoes a funky addition to any outfit. You can design your own leather sandals, too. Prices range between $159-$189.
Australia’s favourite winter shoes make the cut. The classic range of shoes by Emu Australia are 100% made in Australia with the company being a proud member of the Australian Made Campaign. The boots are available in a range of styles and colours (including the original style boot you’d expect), made from quality sheepskin which is both warm and waterproof. Best of all, they’re made to last and the brand shares detailed information to help you look after your boots.
Britt’s List readers can take 10% off full priced Emu Australia purchases with code EMU10FRIEND. Shop here.
Founded in 2013 by Brand Director Kerryn Moscicki, this Melbourne-based brand produces the cutest ballet flats, lace ups and boots to bridge your day between work and play. Radical Yes is know for its bright colours, tassels and prints, and absolute comfort. Radical Yes sticks with small runs, often producing less than 100 pairs in each style in each range, so it’s first in, best dressed – literally. Shoes are ethically produced in Australia and in China, see the website for manufacturer details. Prices range between $79-$279.
This Melbourne-based footwear factory makes its shoes in-house as well as producing shoes for other local and international labels. The locally made P.S.S label is a range of simple boots, loafers and sandals, made with sustainably sourced leathers including vegetable tanned kangaroo leather. If you find a shoe you love but want it in a different colour, you can get it custom made. Prices range between $349-$499.
Melbourne-based brand Pieds makes effortless everyday sandals taking you from morning yoga, a trip to the market, brunch with friends and everywhere in between. The brand has teamed up with a local maker for its range of sandals which are now all made-to-order in Melbourne. Pieds are completely non leather and no animal products are used. They come in around the $150 mark.
This Sunshine Coast designer makes colourful and classic leather sandals and brogues for your everyday wear. All of her shoes are ethically produced in the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne and materials (including the kangaroo leather) are sustainably sourced. Sandals start at $275.
Melbourne-based fashion brand Kuwaii keeps a select range of shoes to complement its wonderful womenswear, made right here in Australia. The range includes leather and vegan platform sandals, lace ups and boots in classic Kuwaii colours. Kuwaii has a genuine focus on sustainability and transparency in its business, and goes into detail on its website with information about how products are made, what goes into them and the costs involved too. You can read about the brand’s shoe production process here. Prices range from $375-$449.
Fresh out of South Australia, Adelaide-based shoemaker Beccy Bromilow is driven to create simple, practical designs with a sustainable focus – which is evident in the brand’s design stage, materials used and waste management. BB Shoemaker’s footwear and leather accessories are assembled by hand at Ensemble Studios, a collective retail, studio and hire space located in Adelaide. The shoes are a range of slip ons, lace ups, boots and sandals, in vegetable tanned kangaroo leather.
Adelaide-based shoemaker and artist Matea Gluscevic creates unique handmade shoes and accessories with quality craftsmanship and a mindful approach to aesthetics vs sustainable materials. The shoemaker’s values are slow, sustainable and ethical – with the footwear made by hand and on a made-to-order basis in Adelaide. For the its unique collections spanning pared back slides to statement wedges, the brand opts for recycled, recyclable, natural fibre or a combination of these materials.
I don’t like to play politics but I’m glad there are a few Aussie made players making authentic sheepskin boots (call them what you want). UGG Since 1974 are one of these, and they’ve been doing it since, you guessed it, 1974, on the Gold Coast of all places (not a cold location by any stretch). Shop for a broad range of uggies – the brand also offers some sweet custom options.