When it comes to shoe shopping, I am a minimalist. Truthfully, I’m not an intentional shoe minimalist. I just don’t own a whole lot of footwear, and the pairs I do have are usually worn to the sole. Boots have consistently been a wardrobe essential for me. I typically utilize them year round and love the age and patina that appears after countless wears. When it came time to invest in ethically made black boots, I knew just the style I desired: The Chelsea Boot.
“Close-fitting, ankle-high boots with an elastic side panel. They often have a loop or tab of fabric on the back of the boot, enabling the boot to be pulled on. The boot dates back to the Victorian era, when it was worn by both men and women. Chelsea boots and some of its variants were considered an iconic element of the 1960’s in Britain, particularly the mod scene.”
This classic, British inspired shape easily pairs with various looks: a silky frock, rugged denim, a cropped trouser… you get my point. I currently own a pair of camel colored leather boots that have easily seen over 150 wears in their two year lifespan within my closet. As I approached the hunt for the perfect pair of black boots, I kept in mind a miniature check list to ensure I didn’t make an impulsive buy based on sale pricing. First, I sought an ethically made, simple and sophisticated design. Next, I desired something comfortable enough for our daily walks too and from work. Finally, I needed a boot that would be durable enough to last me hundreds of wears (yes, hundreds).
After much research and deliberation, I settled on Matt and Nat Joliette Boots in black. What I love about them? They are made responsibly. Not only are these boots cruelty-free, but they consistently use recycled nylons, corks, and rubber in their designs, and even craft their linings out of 100% recycled bottles. Additionally, the boots have a slightly pointed toe bed, giving off a more sophisticated look. They are wonderfully comfortable (though, I will admit, this took several wears to break them in!)
“Building personal relationships with each of our factories is important to us. We regularly visit diligently each factory and make it a point to build strong bonds with the owners; they too are a part of the Matt & Nat family. We make sure that while we provide you with a quality product, the conditions of the workers developing it are up to par with our standards. One of our factories operates by the SA8000 standard, which ensures quality work conditions for all. We hope to make the latter a bigger part of our production, in the future.”
What I don’t love? Because these boots are vegan “leather,” their wear and creasing is not what I expected. I wish they held a sturdier shape, but I realize this is the natural creasing of the unique material. Would I buy them again? Actually, I already have my eyes on the exact same boots in coffee. They truly go with any look I throw together and this versatility is a necessity in my lean closet. Whether or not the boots I selected are a good fit for your style, here are the boots I chose plus three other strong (and ethically made) contenders that remain beautiful wardrobe essentials.
With a slightly pointed toe, soft heel, and deeply set elastic side panel, this pair of Joliette Boots by Matt & Nat give an updated feel to the classic Chelsea boot. Made of vegan “leather,” these boots are cruelty-free and even incorporate recycled materials, such as cork, rubber, and bottles into their design. Always sweatshop-labor free, these boots are a wardrobe staple that will go with any outfit and will easily last you seasons. They are a worthy investment for the minimalist ethical wardrobe.
Everlane consistently knocks it out of the park with their clean, modern designs. This shoe is no exception. If you desire the Chelsea Boot design with a modern loafer twist, these 100% full-grain Italian leather boots are just what you need. Thoughtfully crafted in Brescia, Italy, you can be assured these boots were made ethically and that those who created your pair were paid a fair wage. Want to learn more? Take a look at the factory for yourself!
Will’s Vegan Shoes | The Chelsea Boot in Black | $98
At the most affordable price point, this simple yet strong design remains a beautiful option for the most classic Chelsea Boot look. Though I don’t own a pair myself, all the reviews of this shoe ensured comfort as one of the top qualities loved about this boot. Made of burnished Italian faux leather, these boots are water resistant, cruelty-free, breathable, and ethically made in Portugal. Bonus: Will’s Vegan Shoes offers free international shipping on your first order. Truly a wonderful find, especially on a budget!
Alice & Whittles | Minimalist Black Ankle Rain Boot | $160
Alright, alright, I admit, these aren’t true Chelsea boots in style. But wouldn’t you agree they boast a remarkably similar silhouette? If you’re still not sold, consider the fact that these boots are fully waterproof! Alice & Whittles rain boots are each handmade using Sri Lankan fair-trade rubber. As far as their website discloses, this company supports fair labor standards, ethical manufacturing practices, and worker empowerment. If you happen to live in a endlessly damp environment, these Chelsea-esc beauties could be the best fit for you!