Sneakers Made in the USA: Getting into Step with America

James Flippin Contributor
Sneakers Made in the USA: Getting into Step with America

Sneakers made in the USA can be hard to come by. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered with the brands below.

Once upon a time, in 1895, a British outlet by the name of J.W. Foster and Sons designed the first running shoes. The company sold these kicks to athletes around the world and received a contract to make them for the British Summer Olympics team of 1924.

Around the same time, in 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company invented comfortable rubber shoes with canvas tops and laces, which it called Keds. These so-called “sneakers” were soon mass-produced in 1917. The nickname “sneakers”—an exclusively American term—came about because the shoes were so quiet a person wearing them could sneak up on someone.

The production of sneakers made in the USA began to fall off in the 1970s. In 1980, there were 76,000 people working in the industry. As of 2019, there were only 14,000.

Most sneaker and shoe-making companies outsource their production to places like China or Vietnam. Some, however, produce their kicks right here in the USA. If and when you’re in the market for a new pair of shoes, be sure to consider the companies below.

This list is not comprehensive and our goal is to be as transparent as possible. Some companies import materials but still rely on American labor therefore we’ve included them because purchases put money into the pockets of American workers. If you have any questions, please head to the contact us page to send us an email.

Carson Footwear

One of the first brands that immediately comes to mind when we think about sneakers made in the USA hails from the Pacific Northwest. Allow us to introduce, Carson Footwear.

Everett Carson founded the company after experiencing great pain with other running shoes. All the options he tried were uncomfortable, poorly conceived, and imported. So, he decided to make his own high-quality running shoes. The company makes all of its shoes at its Milwaukie, Oregon factory.

The shoes are made of polyurethane. They have a zero-drop profile with just 10mm of material and a thin sock liner between a runner’s foot and the ground.

Keen Footwear

Another company from the Beaver State came to mind while compiling this list: Keen Footwear.

Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst founded the company in 2003. In 2006, the company relocated its headquarters from Alameda, California to a restored five-story building in Portland, Oregon.

Keen shoes are known for their comfort. They are good walking shoes. They are comfortable enough to wear for hours if you plan to be on your feet all day. They are also sturdy enough to wear while hiking cross country or working on a construction site.

COMUNITYmade

If we travel south from Oregon and head to the great state of California, we’ll find another outlet that produces sneakers made in the USA. Next stop: COMUNITYmade.

The company was founded by husband-and-wife team Sean and Shannon Scott in 2017. The two had a combined total of 60 years of experience in brand and product marketing for brands such as Nike, ASICS, and Toms before they started their own company. All of COMMUNITYmade’s shoes are crafted by skilled shoemakers in downtown Los Angeles.

The shoes are known for their durability. They make them in small batches with unique designs. All their materials are sourced locally and from a handful of reputable international partners.

Hersey Custom Shoe Company

We’re going to take a break from the West Coast quickly and hop to the other side of the country. Hersey Custom Shoe Company is number four on our list of sneakers made in the USA.

The company was founded in 1982 by Bart and Jan Hersey. They began making custom running shoes in a converted Maine sheep barn.

Each pair of shoes is made for one customer at a time. The shoes are made to address the specific needs of runners, hikers, walkers, and those with special health needs.

Opie Way

Just look at the landing page for this company. With the Flag front and center, you know this is a great addition to our sneakers made in the USA list.

The company was founded in 2019 by Justin and Amanda James. Before then Justin had dreamed of designing for Nike. When he learned of the conditions in their overseas factories, he decided to form his own shoe company.

Their shoes are made from raw denim. This makes them stain-resistant and easy to match with many colors and patterns of clothing. Each pair of Opie Way’s shoes are also designed, cut, sewn and assembled in North Carolina by human hands, using non-automated machines.

PSUDO

Michael Rich founded this company. Since its inception, it has been dedicated to eco-friendliness, ethical labor, and local sourcing. PSUDO shoes are sold on Zappos, Amazon, Ebay, and other online retailers. Founded in 1987, PSUDO operates out of Manhattan Beach, California.

They are made of recycled materials. The upper portion, in particular, is made from old plastic bottles.

Red Wing Shoes

The company was founded by a merchant named Charles H. Beckman in Red Wing, Minnesota. He wanted to design tough and durable footwear for local workers in the farming and mining industry. While Red Wing is well known for making work boots, it also markets a safety-toe athletic work shoe, which is effectively a sneaker or athletic shoe.

The vision of the founder continues today. Red Wing shoes are the work boots of choice for builders and others who work in challenging conditions. The company’s shoes are designed to withstand moisture, paint, spills, and mud.

SAS San Antonio Shoes

The company was founded in 1976 by Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden in San Antonio, Texas. They had a shared vision of how casual shoes, casual sneakers, loafers, oxfords, and other dress shoes made of genuine leather should be made and put into action.

Their shoes are well-cushioned with a good profile, low heel, low top, and great flexibility. They are a favorite of long-time walkers.

SoftStar

The company was founded in 1984 by husband-and-wife Tim and Jeannie Oliver after they were unable to find minimalist shoes for their daughter. Rather than leave their little ones in pain they learned to sew their own shoes from a local artisan. SoftStar’s products include athletic shoes, boots, sandals, and more casual shoes of the slip-on variety.

Their shoes are zero-drop running shoes with little to no cushioning. Softstar also invites people to come and visit its workshop, located on Main Street in Philomath, Oregon.

SOM Footwear

Sense of Motion Footwear was founded in Montrose, Colorado by Olivier Marchal. He was an avid runner who could not find shoes that did not hurt his feet. His first designs were inspired by the minimalist footwear of the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon who use them for trail running.

The shoes have a wide toe box which prevents toes from being constricted. The insoles of the shoes have no cushioning.

Zuzii

The company was started in a garage in 2009 by sisters Alex and Ryan. They now have a fully operational footwear factory in Los Angeles where all of the company’s shoes are handmade.

They produce unisex shoe styles and women’s styles that are minimalist, lightweight and flexible. The company’s suede oxfords are prominently featured on its website. Zuzii sells six different types of sneakers, including two pairs for kids.

A Quick Heads Up

Now, before we wrap up this list, we want to make a quick note. The brands below are global giants, meaning a lot of their operations have been moved overseas. With that said, some of their shoes are still made in the USA. We’ve provided links to the exact models that are still being manufactured stateside.

Reebok

Joseph William Foster is the founder of the company. He designed some of the earliest spiked running shoes in Bolton, England in the late 1890s. He established the same J.W. Foster and Sons referred to in the introduction of this article. In 1958, two of the founder’s grandsons formed a companion company called Reebok. In the 1960s, American Paul Fireman negotiated a deal to license and distribute the Reebok brand in the United States.

Reebok is known for selling athletic shoes that are excellent for running, CrossFit, and other types of sporting activities.

The Reebok Work Postal Express Athletic Oxford is made in the USA as is Reebok’s line of military boots. Reebok actually does a good job of aggregating all of their American-made shoes on one page.

New Balance

The company was founded in 1906 by an Irish immigrant named Riley. Legend has it that Riley was inspired to create his first product after watching chickens strut around his backyard. He was fascinated at how the chickens kept balanced on their three-pronged feet and designed a shoe with three-point flexible arch support.

New Balance shoes are known for their support, cushioning, and stability. They are also popular with people who have either extra-wide or flat feet.

The company has 5 facilities located in Maine and Massachusetts. The list changes, but the current New Balance models made in America include the 990, 992, 993, 995, 997, 998, 1300, 1400, and 1600 lines. The company’s “Made in the USA” shoes routinely go for higher prices and contribute to its homegrown prestige.

That’s a Wrap

So there you have it, a list of sneakers made in the USA. If you have questions or would like to be featured in this buying guide or others please don’t hesitate to reach out. The Flag is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.