Looks don’t matter nearly as much as function when you’re trail running.
However, if you’re on the hunt for minimalist shoes for everyday use, you want them to look at least moderately stylish.
Plus, it’d be nice if you could buy them from eco-conscious brands who care about more than just turning a profit.
Looks are subjective, but I still think you’ll find this roundup ticks both those boxes. Use the TOC to skip ahead if you’re ready to peruse the minimalist shoe options, which includes our number one pick.
Sometimes it’s easier to just go with someone else’s favourite.
If you’re new to the idea of less is more footwear and would like a little more information before deciding what to buy, keep reading.
What Exactly is a Minimalist Shoe?
Minimalist shoes typically feature a wide toe box that allows your feet to spread out naturally and avoid issues such as bunions and hammer toes.
The soles are thin and flexible, which means the gazillion nerves in our human feet are in touch with the ground.
And finally, minimalist shoes are flat. They have zero drop.
I should point out that minimalist and zero drop shoes aren’t the same thing. Zero drop means there’s no difference in height between the heel and the toes, but a zero drop shoe can still have a super thick sole.
It can get a little confusing when you’re first venturing into minimalist shoe territory, but if you aim for a wide toe box and a thin, flexible and flat sole, you’ll be fine. Opting for a lightweight shoe also adds to the experience.
If you’re a complete newbie, be sure to check out my post on the best minimalist shoes we’ve found for running, walking and hiking. I explain how to transition to minimalist footwear without injuring yourself.
Hint: you need to take your time.
Fixing Feet Issues Caused By Incorrect Footwear
Regular shoes generally narrow towards the front, squashing your toes together. The heel stack also means your feet are never flat.
Plus, the soles are usually quite thick, preventing your feet from connecting with the ground you’re walking on.
Now, you might say, “Ang, isn’t the whole point of wearing shoes to prevent your feet from touching the ground?”
Yes, but not to the point that you cut off all communication. Think of it like this. Imagine if your doctor put on a pair of oven mitts to examine you. Not going to work is it?
It’s a similar theory with shoes. You want the protection so your feet aren’t exposed to dog poop and thorns, but it needs to be thin enough that you notice when you step on something.
Sensory feedback is vital. Our feet are endowed with more than 200,000 nerve endings, which they use to send vital information about the terrain we’re traversing to the brain. The cushioned barrier in conventional shoes hinders this.
Fixing the issues caused by traditional footwear can be tricky, so consulting a podiatrist is the best place to start. Walking barefoot on grass or indoors is always a good idea, as is replacing your ‘not so great footwear’ with something more minimalist.
Investing in a pair of toe separators can help straighten your toes and prevent overlap if that’s something you struggle with. I bought some recently and they’ve already made a difference to my runs. I didn’t suffer from foot pain per se, but my toes would protest on the longer runs.
The Best Minimalist Casual Shoes in Our Opinion
Bearing in mind that this is a little subjective. Your idea of what looks good may differ vastly from mind. That being said, if you’re on the hunt for minimalist shoes for everyday use, you’re probably more interested in what feels good than what looks good.
I’m equally enamoured with my Primus Trails, which I’ve had since December last year. They definitely served me well while we were living on the farm and they’re holding their own on the trails around town as well.
I love the look of the Geo Court, but unfortunately they’re not vegan-friendly. The Geo Racer is, however, so that’s my next shoe for sure.
As a brand, Vivobarefoot is very focused on sustainability. Treading lightly on the Earth and making shoes that are healthy for the people who wear them and the environment is at the core of everything they do.
Why Support Eco-Conscious Brands?
It might be easier and cheaper in the moment to buy your shoes from big name brands who don’t prioritise things like sustainability, fair trade and paying their workers a liveable wage.
But, that convenience comes at a cost to the environment and the workers. The only way to change things is by supporting the small, eco-conscious businesses and ignoring the big guys.
Put another way, by supporting eco-conscious brands you become a part of the global eco-wakening.that’s driving sustainability.
6 Minimalist Shoes for Everyday
There are way more eco-concious brands than I’ve listed here, but choice can be overwhelming, so I went with the less is more approach on this one.
1. Ahinsa Shoes
Ahinsa Shoes tick all our personal ethos boxes. They’re 100% vegan, ethically produced and handmade to last. Pretty much the antithesis of fast fashion.
They offer an extensive range of minimal/comfort and barefoot shoes for all occasions, with a strong focus on everyday use. You could wear them to work, on a date, to the movies or out to dinner.
If you’d prefer to go with a more individualist look, they even offer a custom-made option where you get your own unique design courtesy of Petr Jáchym.
Check out their shopping FAQ page to find out more about choosing the correct shoe size, returns, exchanges, warranties and more.
Based: Czech Republic
Our choice: Bindu 2 Comfort AirNet®
Bohempia is a sustainable, comfortable, and functional fashion made from hemp. Founded in 2015 by Tomas Rohal, the brand’s main goal is to promote environmental and social sustainability in fashion.
With a strong focus on bringing hemp back to mainstream use, their unique range of shoes and other apparel are made locally in small workshops by happy, well taken care of staff.
Bohempia’s range of barefoots shoes is casual, though a few of them have the potential to be paired with a smarter outfit. We’re talking low tops, high tops and slip-ons in a variety of colours.
Check out their FAQs page to find out more about choosing the correct shoe size, returns, exchanges, warranties and more.
Based: Czech Republic
Our choice: Hemp Barefoot Kolda
*They list most countries, but nothing in Africa.
Like Ahimsa, Feelgrounds shoes are 100% vegan. Yasss! Sustainability, fairness, and transparency are essential values for them. Feelgrounds’ Vietnam-based team of highly skilled workers are of age, well-insured and receive a salary above the regional average.
Feelgrounds take their environmental responsibility seriously, using recycled materials as much as possible. Independent testing institutes, like SGS, regularly test and approve the safety of their products.
Along with low tops, high tops and slip-ons, the Feelgrounds range of minimalist shoes for everyday wear also includes sandals, sneakers and winter boots. As everyday shoes go, these definitely cover the bases.
Check out their FAQs page to find out more about warranties, returns, caring for your new shoes and what to do if you’re new to minimalist shoes.
Our choice: Original Luxe (white)
The name alone makes us want to buy a pair of these casual barefoot shoes. While they do use leather to make some of their shoes, Groundies also offers an extensive range of vegan options.
With durability being a key point of sustainability, the guys at Groundies have made it their mission to produce barefoot shoes that are made to last. Oh, and they’re also climate neutral.
Groundies offer a range of styles for everyone, including sneakers, boots, casual shoes and girly slip-ons for those of you who aren’t all about being practical like Sporty and I. For guys, the Palermo could easily be worn as dress shoes.
Check out their FAQs page to find out more sizing, materials and production, returns, warranties, shipping, what makes Groundies special and most importantly, whether or not they’ll keep your feet warm in winter.
Shop for your favourites on Amazon.
Our choice: Women’s Grounds Vision
*No charge for shipping!
Tadeevo says they are a small company and want to stay that way. (Right off the bat that makes us love them.) Their aim is not mass production, they simply want to make ultra-minimalist shoes for people who consciously choose natural movement.
Tadeevo shoes are zero drop, lightweight, breathable and sport a wide toe box. Everything you want from a minimalist shoe. Their vegan range of barefoot minimalist shoes are free from any animal products, by-products or animal-derived ingredients.
Their range of minimalist shoes includes casual low tops, boots and girly pumps for the ladies. Given the free shipping, I’m inclined to try a pair of these as soon as my Vivobarefoot shoes wear out in, oh, I don’t know, the next decade or so.
Tadeevo’s FAQ page is as minimalist as their shoes, but you’ll find everything you need to know about the brand and their policies. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee and free shipping worldwide.
Based: Southern Poland
Our choice: Bliss Vegan Orange
*No charge for shipping!
6. Xero Shoes
Xero Shoes nearly didn’t make it onto this list. They’re such a well known brand I automatically (and wrongly) assumed they wouldn’t be as mindful as their lesser-known counterparts.
I know, super judgey of me.
As it turns out, Xero founders Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix care as much about the environment as the other minimalist shoe makers on this list. How’s this for example, their soles have a 5,000 mile sole warranty.
Their range of minimalist shoes includes brightly coloured casual sneakers, boots, girly pumps and more. They also have this super cool feature on their website where they help you find the perfect shoes by walking you through a set of questions.
Xero’s FAQ page covers everything you need to know, such as the company mission, returns, warranty, minimalist and barefoot shoes info and other product-related information.
Our choice: HFS – Lightweight Road Running Shoe
*They ship most places, but it’s better to check first.
If you’re in the market for a pair of running shoes or hiking shoes, be sure to check out our post on the best minimalist shoes we’ve found for running, walking and hiking. Depending on what sort of exercise you’re into, they could definitely work as athletic shoes as well.