etiko fair trade sneakers review

etiko high tops in green – image from their website

there was a hole in my shoe range that needed filling with something conversey. i’d seen etiko organic fair trade high tops and was keen to get a pair while i was in melbourne.

obviously they’re a converse chuck taylor clone. there are good chuck taylor clones and bad chuck taylor clones. a shoe can look and feel like another shoe and some people would even have you believe they come out of the same factory. but the thing about the chuck taylors by converse is they’re actually pretty well made and any other shoe that wants to ride on it’s coat tails has to be more than just a good likeness, it has to last and last. i mention this because i’ve owned several pairs of chuck taylors and one pair of clones. the clones disintegrated on a single day in aukland when on vacation i walked 10 ks or so and the shoes were bin ready by days end.

why not get a fairtrade footy while you’re at it
so why change to etiko?
the thing about the etiko shoe is they’re so worthy. you know,  the fair trade and organic. we all know that sneaker manufacturers have used dodgy work practices and slave-like wages to help boost profits. while that may or may not be true of converse it at least makes the etiko’s attractive because we know for them fair wages are important. they also turn some of the profits back into micro loans to help the communities they work in and with  grow and prosper. the uppers are all made of organic canvas and the soles use real rubber tapped from a rubber tree. i’m pretty sure you can’t do any good for the environment by buying stuff so you shouldn’t get all gooey inside when you buy these shoes but at least you know you’re not directly contributing to slave wages and despoiling the land when you buy these.

my wife has her eye on the red low cuts

the size and fit feels identical to the chuck taylors so if you own a pair of chucks and want some etikos then i could recommend buying off their website and just getting the same size as you already wear. i think perhaps the toe area is a little wider but not by much. i’d be a size 8 in chucks if it had a really wide toe area but i get a size nine to accommodate my monkey feet. i’m still a size 9 in etikos.


price is good, at $90. those of us who live gold coast probably buy our chucks at harbour town and pay somewhere between $60 – $120, with the occasional $40 bargain to be had if the style and size fits. the etikos fit right in there and i didn’t really feel like i was paying a premium for the fair tradiness and orginicness of the product.

the ride
in the first couple days of owning the otiko sneakers i covered about 20kms on foot. i was in melbourne and there are some great walks i love to do. the walk from the city through the holy grounds of the mcg down to richmond is my favourite. the wife loves to walk through east melbourne and check out the amazing houses. the etikos neither fell apart nor looked terribly flagged after their long walk.

i find the soles of the chuck taylors to be a bit flat and they never really seem to mold to my foot. my poor flat arches cant cope with that so i use inserts in them to make them wearable. the sole of the etikos however is much better, being comfortable from day one and molding to my foot much like a leather sole does. i would never consider walking 20kms in chuck taylors but with the etikos it was no problem.

here’s the really good bit though for fixie freaks and single speed speeders, the natural rubber sole is much  more tacky than your standard petroleum-based sole. the etikos hang onto your pedals and make for really good cycling shoe, especially if you’re using flat pedals like i do. as fixers it’s our duty to look good and set the sartorial standards and we really need to move beyond the skateboard shoes that have dominated casual cycling for so long. i’m putting up the etikos as the number one fixie shoes. just everyone get some or i’m going to look like a dick.

round up
i’m very happy with my etiko all organic all fairtrade all wholesome sneakers. they look cool, feel comfortable, seem to be lasting well, are great on the bike and dont come at a cost — to myself or the workers — that i can’t support.

nb: notice that i haven’t used the term “ill kicks” anywhere in this review. that kind of hip talk is just embarrassing and shouldn’t be encouraged.

i bought my etikos at friends of the earth melbourne shop in smith street collingwood.


  1. Shawn

    I just came across these shoes and have been looking for reviews of them. One thing that I’ve had problems with when it comes to the knockoffs has been that the canvas used in them isn’t nearly as breathable as the Converse. My feet sweat in them in winter. How are these Etikos compared to the Converse in that regard?


    1. SSGC

      Don’t think you’ll have any problems in that regard. The canvas is all natural (as is the rubber sole). I’ve worn them through a couple of Queensland summers and they don’t make my feet sweaty. I have to add to that, I’ve worn them all over the place, been mountain biking in them numerous times, and now several years later they’re still kicking. Quality pair of shoes I can recommend.

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