Running Shoes

The Ethical Choice

21 to 36 of 36 messages
10/08/2006 at 09:33
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.
Duck Girl    pirate
10/08/2006 at 09:42
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 :¬(
11/08/2006 at 08:17
Most Nike clothing is made in Portugal...
14/08/2006 at 09:37
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.
15/08/2006 at 13:44
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.
15/08/2006 at 14:45
Ooooh, cheers for the tip Stephen, I'll bear that in mind.
15/08/2006 at 17:33
Nike also has a corporate responsibility type thing...
15/08/2006 at 17:37
17/08/2006 at 10:54
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.
17/08/2006 at 10:56
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.
18/08/2006 at 18:44
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....
07/01/2013 at 22:40

I know this is a really old thread, but I thought some of you may be interested to know that we've just started an online running shop and ALL our products are Made in Britain.

We have some good ones already and some more in the pipeline, but we are looking for more manufacturers of running products Made in Britain and preferrably British companies. If anyone has any suggests of good British manufacturers we'd be really glad to hear about them.

Thanks, Teresa,

07/01/2013 at 23:36
Why does made in Britain mean ethical. Maybe we shouldn't let people in Bangladesh make our shoes and instead let them sweat in the fields trying to grow a bit of rice to eat. Surely its more ethical to let other countries develop and then their citizens might get the things that we enjoy like a varied diet, health care, democracy, leisure time and running shoes.
09/01/2013 at 11:26

Because we have minimum wage, Health and Safety, COSHH regs, a minimum age that people can work at, no forced labour and independant bodies that assess such things.  How's that for starters ?   Dunno about the rest of your piece.

09/01/2013 at 12:40

Aside from the ethical stance, it just makes no sense to ship products half way round the world where we have prefectly good products which are made in Britain. I know this isn't he case for everything, but there are some very good products sprining up in the UK now. shouldn't we all at least consider these?

In addition to that it's a lot more climate friendly to use products made on your doorstep.


09/01/2013 at 15:34
People want to work in factories in third world countries cos its preferable to them than eeking out a subsistence living in rural areas. We tend to have a rosy picture of the peasant who happily works in the field but this isn't reality. As countries develop, social legislation such as a minimum wage and health and safety rules tend to be introduced.

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