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Nisolo Review: Quality & Ethically Made Shoes?

Personally, I am a fan of companies that give a damn.

Whether the mission is polarizing, or they want to change the world – it’s great to see a company with a fiery passion.

Whether it’s through their very public publishing of their lowest wages to simply making their goods in an ethical manner – there is a lot to love about Nisolo.

Nisolo (meaning ‘not alone’) is on a mission to push the fashion industry onto a more sustainable path, which includes versatile design styles so the goods can be worn every day, making their products in an ethical way, all while being fairly priced by cutting out needless middlemen.

As great as their mission may be, what really sets them apart from many other companies in the industry is the quality of their products.

To put it simply – they are among the best.

In this review of Nisolo, we are set out to cover the following:

  • Learning more about the company and who is behind the operations
  • A brief look at some of their flagship products
  • How you can get your hands on some Nisolo goods
  • And if they offer promo codes or discount codes

Let’s get started on our in-depth review of Nisolo:

A Brief History of Nisolo

Founded in 2011 by Mr. Patrick Woodyard and Ms. Zoe Cleary, Nisolo set out to close the divide between the creator and the customer and to value both equally the same.

In a company video by Nisolo, Mr. Woodyard proposes a profound notion (paraphrased):

“What is wrong with this industry in that creators who are making quality products with their own hands yet struggle to provide for their family while customers are also out there buying cheap products without knowing how they are made or who made them.”

It’s quite a heavy statement that many (including myself) likely don’t think about often – especially when buying or wearing clothes.

In a world where new styles come out every season only to be eventually thrown away (or perhaps donated) within a year or two, it’s refreshing to see a company that is trying to change the way things work.

Now truth be told, its great when a company says that they are trying to change the way the fashion industry operates, but it’s another to see what they are actually doing themselves.

As the saying goes: actions speak louder than words.

Here’s a brief look at some of Nisolo’s current initiatives:

Note: here’s a video (referenced for the quote above) we recommend checking out if you have a few minutes that provides a history and overview of Nisolo and how it came to be:

Lowest Wage Challenge / Transparency

At the time of initial publication of this article, Nisolo is championing other fashion brands in the industry to share what the lowest wage of their workers are.

Why is this important?

It is estimated that less than 2% of the 75 million people working to make clothes earns a living wage (source).

That’s sad.

That means that 98% (73.5 mln) people are underpaid and are unable to pay for the basic necessities in life.

So, what is Nisolo doing to reverse this trend?  They are actually paying the workers in their Peru factory an actual living wage – which is $276 per month.

For context, when they paid their worker this base rate of $276 per month, most saw a 47% increase in earnings (i.e. they were only being paid a meager $146 per month prior to this initiative).

You can read more about their Lowest Wage here.

In addition to paying their own workers a livable wage, Nisolo also partnered with one of the chief competitors, ABLE, to start the Lowest Wage Challenge.

It’s a campaign that allows you to pressure nominate brands to publish what their lowest wage workers earn.

At the time of publication, the top 5 brands with the most nominations are as follows:

  1. Madewell/J. Crew
  2. Everlane
  3. Athropologie/Urban Outfitters
  4. H&M
  5. Zara

We hope this campaign goes viral to pressure some of these companies to be transparent about their production methods.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions

To make a basic pair of shoes or belt requires a lot from the entire supply chain which includes things like transportation, powering the factory, overhead, and more.

To counteract the stress that Nisolo has on the environment, with every product sold, Nisolo offsets their carbon emission by helping to protect trees in the Amazon Basin through their partnership with Ecosphere+.

You can read more about Nisolo’s role here.

Shoe Reclamation Program

85% of our clothing and shoes can be recycled or reused, yet 99% ends up in landfills.

It’s through this unsettling statistic that Nisolo has started their Shoe Reclamation Program (source).

By collaborating with Nashville, TN based Soles4Soles, Nisolo is collecting used shoes to send to developing countries that can be easily repaired and resold (by local business owners) in their communities.

But what really sets this program apart from a standard donation – is that when you send any old pair of shoes to Nisolo, you receive a $30 credit off your next order.

So instead of simply throwing your shoes in the trash, consider this program as it not only saves you money, but also helps someone in need of shoes.

Furthermore, the donation will be tax-deductible – truly a win for everyone involved.

You can read more about the Nisolo and Soles4Soles collaboration here.

Price Adjustments

Given that Nisolo owns the factory in Peru, this vertical integration allows for both greater price control and a higher quality product.

As mentioned in a recent article over on the site InsideHook, Nisolo recently dropped the prices on their bestselling Emilio Chukka Boot by $48.  It was noted that this was due economies of scale (savings in cost gained by an increased level of production).

Instead of just pocketing the profits, Nisolo passed along the savings to you, the customer.  Which further supports the notion stated earlier that Nisolo is looking to bridge the gap between creator and customer.

Review of Nisolo Product Lineup

Nisolo’s expertise largely rests on shoes and accessories.

Their current product lineup contains the following:

  • Weather Boots
  • Chukka Boots
  • Chelsea Boots
  • Derby and Oxford Dress Shoes
  • Low Top Sneakers
  • Slip-Ons
  • Messenger Bags & Backpacks
  • Wallets
  • Belts

You can view the full men’s product lineup here.

For this review, we wanted to look at a few of their well-known products:

Nisolo Men’s Chelsea Boot Review

chelsea boot nisolo

Relying on a leather upper, this classic Chelsea boot by Nisolo is a stylish and comfortable shoe can be easily dressed up or down.

Able to be worn nicely with a pair of chinos or dark denim jeans, the streamlined appearance is timeless.

One feature that we particularly loved about this boot was the reliance on a Goodyear welt.

Able to be resoled at your local cobbler, these Chelsea boots should have no problem lasting you for several years – assuming you take proper care of them.

Available in sizes 8 to 13, they fit a half-size down – so plan accordingly.

If you are looking for the quintessential leather Chelsea boot in saddle brown – these are a solid pick.

Buy Now

Nisolo Andres All Weather Boot Review

all weather boot

For the men who are looking for a good work boot, or simply one that is a bit more rugged and ready to brave the wet and slippery elements of winter – then consider the Andres All Weather Boot.

Claimed to be one of Nisolo’s most anticipated boots of all time, this handmade wonder gets everything right when it comes to quality and thoughtful construction.

The leather upper is oil-based (we believe its vegetable tanned leather based on our findings here) that will be naturally water-resistant.

But to take the design a step further, the tongue on the boot is gusseted – meaning that the tongue is attached to both sides of the boot up to the eyelets.  This is effective at not only preventing water from seeping into your shoes (especially during rain or snow storms), but other general debris including sand, small rocks, etc. won’t get in to the boot.

Lastly, outsole is from Vibram – which allows for a steady and non-slip grip.

Available in a multitude of colors and sizes – you should have no problem finding one to match your unique style.

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Nisolo Owen Belt Review

owen belt nisolo

If you’re tired of your belt showing obvious signs of age such as getting stretched out, cracking, or just generally looking bad – then it might be time for an upgrade.

Whether you go with the Owen belt from Nisolo or another quality men’s leather belt – just know this:

The grade of the leather that is used is much more important than the brand itself.  When you get a belt that relies on full grain or top grain leather, the belt will not only last significantly longer but also develop a nice patina that will only get better with time.

For the Owen belt, Nisolo is relying on Nubuck leather (top grain calf leather) that has been handmade in their Peru factory.

Available in 4 sizes and 3 different colors, at 1.25” wide – it’s a terrific casual belt that should look nice with a variety of outfits.

Buy Now

Nisolo Retail Locations

nisolo retail locations

Trying new clothing or apparel companies that are based online can be unsettling for some.  Unable to touch or feel the products in any way, you are left guessing on whether you will like the product until it arrives on your front doorstep.

Nisolo’s physical presence is limited with one showroom in Nashville, TN.

For those who don’t live in the Nashville area, Nisolo does offer flat shipping rates for customers in the USA (read more about their shipping policy here).

Furthermore, if the product doesn’t fit quite right or you simply don’t like it – the exchange process is straightforward.  Items must be unwashed and unworn.  If you want a refund, a $5.95 shipping and restocking fee will be assessed.  However, if its just a simple exchange, then there doesn’t appear to be any additional costs (see their return policy for further details).

Nisolo Promos & Discounts

Now if you are about to buy some goods from Nisolo and are looking to save a bit of money – then you do have a few options available to you:

Refer A Friend

Like many fashion retailers today, Nisolo offers a friend referral program.  When you sign up a friend, they will get $25 off their first order and you will get a $25 credit on your Nisolo account.

The link to sign up for this deal can be found here.

Shoe Reclamation Program

As we mentioned earlier, the shoe reclamation program that Nisolo provides is a great way to not only do good for others, but to also provide some savings for you.

When you send in a pair of shoes, you are eligible to receive a $30 credit.  When you net the cost of shipping – you should be able to get about $20 worth of savings.

Learn more about the program here.

Promo & Discount Codes

If its your first time buying from Nisolo, then you will want to sign up for their email list.  With a link available in the footer of their website, you can get access to deals, updates, and 15% off your very first order:

nisolo promo codes

This is a much more effective way at getting a promo code than trying out expired or used codes often found on popular coupon sites.

Final Thoughts on Nisolo

It’s easy to see why Nisolo was recently recognized as one of the Most Important Disruptor Consumer Brands in the U.S. Economy by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) – they are playing an important role in pressuring the fashion industry to think a bit more about their actions.

From their shoe reclamation collaboration to publishing their lowest wage, there is a lot that is going good for Nisolo from a corporate stewardship standpoint.

In addition to being a company that does good in the world through various avenues, they also put together an amazing lineup of products.

Therefore, if you came to this guide wondering if Nisolo was worth making a purchase from – we give them our stamp of approval.  Not only will you get yourself quality goods that are both timeless and well made, but you will also be voting with your wallet by supporting a company that is looking to change the way we think about fashion.

John Wellman

John Wellman is one of the most experienced and respected fashion experts specializing in men's clothing. He has worked in the fashion industry for over fifteen years, during which time he has provided an expert eye and advice to numerous fashion clients.

John has developed a keen understanding of the nuances of men's style and the importance of selecting the right pieces for a particular look. He has been praised by peers and clients alike for his ability to create classy yet edgy looks that stay true to the personality of the client.

John has a passion for men's style and believes in the importance of dressing with confidence and flair. He looks forward to continuing to make an impact in the fashion world and to helping men look and feel their best.

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