10 American Brands Still Making Sneakers In The USA
These domestic sneaker brands are committed to producing high-quality, stylish and rare kicks on home soil.
Sneakers might seem like a category that just about any brand can do well, given the technology and resources available these days. But to make sneakers in the USA puts a company in a more rarified air.
Like crafting boots in the United States, or a handsome pair of blue jeans, materials and production methods are of the utmost importance. Domestic manufacturing also takes longer and requires more investment – the end result being a higher quality pair of kicks that will become a core part of your rotation for years to come.
So, whether you’re after technical running shoes or a more trend-led design, forget the usual suspects and instead look to the shoemakers producing well-made, stylish kicks on American soil. Your wardrobe and the local economy will thank you.
What does Made in the USA sneakers mean?
Just like with an American-made wallet or T-shirt, there are strict guidelines that need to be adhered to for sneakers to be given the prestigious ‘Made in the USA’ label.
In this case, at least 70% of the final product needs to be sourced from local content – in other words, as the Federal Trade Commission states, “all or virtually all” must be made in the United States. That applies to the materials used, like canvas, rubber or leather, too.
This makes it all the more impressive that there are still brands willing to commit to making footwear in the United States, especially in an age of cheap Third World labour. Even if companies keep their designs relatively simple (to cut down on costs and production processes), there’s still more at play than crafting shoes and sneakers overseas.
It also makes it easier to spot who’s doing things the right way, since plenty of brands have outsourced production over the years (we’re looking at you, Nike). So, if craftsmanship and supporting domestic business is important to you, then a pair of Made in the USA sneakers will take pride of place on your shoe rack.
Why buy Made in the USA sneakers?
Like knowing where the meal on your table comes from, or how the shirt on your back is built (or at least what it’s made of), the level of transparency that comes with buying Made in the USA sneakers counts for something in an age of over consumption. Most USA-made sneaker brands will detail where they source their hides from, what production processes are used and even profile the craftspeople who made them.
Having this knowledge gives your kicks a history and heritage that’s unrivalled by mass-produced alternatives, and makes you more appreciative of how those shoes end up on your feet. The fact that they’re supremely comfortable, built to last and stylish are just a bonus.
Plus, US-made sneakers are more exclusive, too – so there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a pair of kicks that no one else you know has (you can’t say that about Nike or Adidas’ most popular models).
In our book, that’s plenty of incentive for going the domestic route.
The best made in the USA sneaker brands in 2023
Here are some of our favorite brands that continue to make their sneakers Stateside.
New Balance MADE In USA
Among companies making sneakers in America on a large scale, New Balance stands alone. The famed Northeast athletic and lifestyle brand has carved out a niche in the market, with its retro runners becoming a must-own amongst the fashion elite.
Although the company now outsources the majority of production overseas, New Balance’s MADE in USA line is crafted entirely in America using native materials. The collections are seasonal and include its ever-popular 990 models in a variety of unique colourways.
So if you want to get your hands on a bonafide classic sneaker but without any of the associated guilt that comes with mass production, the slightly higher price point is worth it.
Opie Way takes a careful and sustainable approach to manufacturing, handcrafting its footwear on demand in small batches to avoid uneccessary waste.
Following this slow fashion approach, the sneakers themselves are utterly classic, spanning old-school high-tops, skate shoes and court-inspired lace-ups, often coming in vivid colourways and unique materials (for instance, a pair made using baseball glove leather).
Designs can top $400 as a result, but again, we can guarantee only a prized few have Opie Way on their feet.
Only available via pre-order – to ensure limited, careful production – they will certainly prove worth the wait.
Making sneakers in America, the old-school way, lends itself to styles that hark back to yesteryear. Victory Sportswear might have started in 1982, but the company’s goal was simple: use the “forgotten wisdom and techniques of the old-timers” to make custom running shoes.
At the time, the company was dubbed the Hershey Custom Shoe Company. It operated in Maine under its original owner for 25 years before the name change (and a move to Massachusetts).
The goal remains the same today, though: produce retro-style runners in handsome materials like suede, and do it all in the States.
Not every USA-made sneaker has to reference classic 70s and 80s running shoe designs. Some companies, like Los Angeles-based Psudo, are bringing the silhouette into the future, and doing so in rather astonishing fashion.
Its sneakers are made from just three parts, using only American materials, and incorporate unique details like contrast stitching on the upper and speedy textured soles.
Coming in a slip-on silhouette (with faux lace detailing), these sneakers are extremely comfortable and easy to wear all day long. Any of its colour-block designs would make the perfect partner to your light wash jeans.
You might think that only mass-market retailers have the budgets required to produce technologically innovative trail runners, but Carson Footwear is taking the big boys on in unprecedented fashion.
The Oregon-based company makes a variety of trail running shoes and colourful, lifestyle-oriented sneakers with vivid, printed designs – the kind that will instantly shake up your warm-weather wardrobe.
Its sneakers take extra time to produce (the pre-order process is up to a month), but as with the other brands on this list, that wait results in a pair of shoes tailored to you.
San Antonio Shoes
San Antonio Shoes blossomed from rather unlikely beginnings, starting with only 13 shoemakers in a factory housed in an old aircraft hanger outside the city.
The brand clearly has plenty of tenacity to survive in an era when so much manufacturing has been outsourced, and despite its small but scrappy beginnings, San Antonio Shoes now offers practically every silhouette you can think of.
The brand make chunky, retro runners, streamlined mesh sneakers, mesh slip-ons and even leather walking shoes, all for just over $200.
The concept of a ‘barefoot’ sneaker is one that brands have been trying to perfect for years, but it seems the category is a difficult one to conquer without sacrificing aesthetics.
Enter SOM, which hit the market in 2014 with a mission to make comfortable, streamlined shoes that deliver that minimalist ‘barefoot’ feeling.
Its line of sneakers (mostly low-cut, with one trail running edition) are crafted entirely in Colorado – from the cutting to sewing and, of course, design – often using repurposed and recycled materials to cut down on waste.
In its Maine factory, Rancourt takes great care to make some of the best leather loafers on the market, doing things the same way it has for decades.
The brand applies a similarly careful approach to its line of sneakers, marrying old-school techniques with modern design. And it’s this blend of old and new which makes Rancourt kicks so coveted, be it a pair of Natural Essex leather runners or a pair of hardwearing Chromexcel chukka-style sneakers.
The range is impressive, the craftsmanship is second to none, and the fact that these sneakers will break in to become like a second skin over time is practically priceless.
Softstar is another brand aiming for a share of the barefoot sneaker market, stripping its designs back to the bare minimum. A wide toe box and slim profile that sits well below the ankle provide that crucial barefoot experience.
The moccasin-style silhoutte is also a time-honoured touch that falls in line with the company’s aim to “rewild your feet”, and each pair is made with as many as 93 steps.
It’s a time-intensive process that only gets better when you consider the rich array of materials used (like carefully sourced domestic leathers).
Los Angeles is a manufacturing hub for many domestic brands, especially in the knitwear and T-shirt sectors, so it makes perfect sense that sneaker production would find a home there, too.
And one such sneaker brand that’s set up base on the West Coast is CommunityMADE. As you may have guessed from the name, this ethical company is laser-focused on giving back to the local community, donating 20% of the price of each pair of sneakers sold to the charity of your choice at the point of purchase.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the shoes themselves – which run the gamut from chukka-sneaker hybrids to low-cut leather tennis shoes – are sleek and sophisticated, as well as beautifully made.