Before you scoff at the idea of “stylish” running shoes, consider this: what we wear on our feet has always said a lot about who we are. Just ask Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris—her low-top Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars drew admiration when she stepped off a plane “laced up and ready to win" last fall, and later caught up controversy on the cover of Vogue. Footwear is a benchmark for culture, and the fitness market is no different.
From minimalist barefoot-style runners to trail shoes so burly they could double as soccer cleats, the style of running shoe you wear—or don’t—has become a badge of belonging. And with the global footwear market projected to be worth $403 billion by 2025, the next pair of running shoes you invest in could have a ripple effect that touches everything from social movements to material innovation. No pressure, right?
To help make your decision a little easier, we’ve rounded up nine women’s runners that strike a balance between form and function while paying close attention to eco-conscious methods and materials.
[Don't worry fellas, we've got you covered, too.]
This dynamic running shoe is a real quiver-killer, with enough cushioning to handle concrete and enough durability for less-technical trail runs. The shoe is truly lightweight, from its airy soles to its refreshing lemon-drop hue. If this piques your interest, check out other new releases from On, including the zero dye Cloudrock Edge Raw hiker and the new Cyclon, a subscription-based shoe you return for a brand-new pair when yours wear out.
Price: $140 SHOP NOW
The Space Hippie Collection is Nike’s exploratory design exercise inspired by life on Mars “where materials are scarce and there’s no resupply mission” (a pretty accurate reflection of our own terrestrial situation here on Earth tbh). To that end, the Space Hippie 04 contains 25% recycled material, with an upper made from 85% recycled polyester “Space Waste Yarn.” The look hits right at the intersection of down-to-earth and NASA-tech—a conversation starter for a conversation that should have been started eons ago.
Price: $130 SHOP NOW
All-black and burly-as-hell, these waterproof trail runners are meant for your muddiest trail runs thanks to a Gore-tex membrane. The grip is incredible for technical terrain and the monochrome style maintains a timeless look. It was a tie between these and to upcoming Index.01, Salomon’s first recyclable runner with a closed-loop design approach.
Price: $160 SHOP NOW
You lace up a pair of Hoka sneakers when you want that bouncy, deliciously cushioned ride. We chose the All Gender Clifton as our favorite road runners because of their elevated, casual leather details and a mint-and-poppy color combo that circumvents the brand’s typical go-bold-or-go-home palette.
Price: $150 SHOP NOW
When adidas debuted its partnership with Parley For the Oceans on Earth Day in 2015, it made a huge statement: corporations had a responsibility to the planet to make sweeping, measurable commitments to sustainability. Parley Collection shoe styles feature upcycled plastic waste intercepted on beaches and supports adidas’ mission to convert to 100% recycled polyester in all products by 2024. It was hard to choose just one, but the Terrex Two Ultra are just funky enough to stand out without looking cartoonish.
Price: $180 SHOP NOW
We love a stretchy woven sneaker for casual running, and APL offers that tenfold thanks to a catalog of luxury unisex styles that cover every color combo you can dream up: citrusy brights, monochromatic pastels, leopard print, and our favorite, a creamy almond version with marbled soles.
Price: $245 SHOP NOW
For long distance runners, style tends to take a backseat to durability and comfort. Thankfully you can have both with the Norvan, which delivers grippy outsoles for shifting terrain and a highly breathable upper. Among a sea of running shoes that look like neon nightmares, this one hits the mark on ultra-bright color by keeping it uniform.
Price: $165 SHOP NOW
Foldable trail runners sound gimmicky—until you go to pack a bag for your next trip. Purportedly built to be stable and supportive enough for more rugged runs, we trust the design chops of Arcade founder David Bronkie and appreciate the recycled and plant-based material recipe. The crowdfunding campaign for these just wrapped, so keep your eyes out for when these hit the market.
Price: $189 SHOP NOW
“White shoe” and “trail run” aren’t often uttered in the same sentence, but hear us out: most trail running shoes are made with dyed materials, a process that requires a lot of water and energy waste. By leaving the Skyfire undyed, Merrel is lowering their carbon footprint. Plus, a little dirt never hurt.
Price: $110 SHOP NOW