Sliding Scale: Canvas Sneakers

Welcome to the seventh installment of Sliding Scale, a series in which we bring you a single product for every budget. This month we’re rounding up Canvas Sneakers. Simple, light, and breathable, the canvas sneaker is a warm weather staple, and these are our nine favorite responsibly-made pairs.


First up are the Méditerranée Sneakers from Veja, which have organic cotton uppers, natural Amazonian rubber soles, and are made in a Fair Trade factory in Brazil. Thanks to the current EUR to USD exchange rate, these are only $50 right now (not including international shipping).


Next are the Star Master Sneakers from Novesta. These are handmade in a family owned factory in Slovakia out of natural and low-impact materials, and are completely free of harsh chemical dyes and glues. They also come in a nice array of colors, and only cost $65 at Oi Polloi.

Industry of all Nations

The Kenyata Sneakers from Industry of all Nations are ethically made in Africa using materials that are sourced from within the continent, including African-grown cotton for the uppers, and natural African rubber for the soles. There are eight colors available, and they’re all priced at $75.

American Apparel

The only US-made entries on the list come from American Apparel. They’ve got two options: the deck shoe-style Low Top Sneakers, which come in one color (pictured above), and cost $75. And the Keds-inspired Unisex Tennis Shoes, which come in a variety of colors / patterns / fabrics, and cost $42.

Shoes Like Pottery

The Low and High Sneakers from Japan’s Shoes Like Pottery are made using the traditional Japanese ‘Ka-ryu’ vulcanization process, which involves firing the shoes in a kiln to permanently fuse the rubber soles to the hand-sewn cotton canvas uppers. This makes the shoes both highly flexible and exceedingly durable. End Clothing has a number of colors to choose from, and prices start at $135.


The Japanese footwear label Doek also produces their shoes in Japan using traditional processes (the brand is actually owned by the same company that owns Shoes Like Pottery), but the sneakers are a bit more substantial, and a bit more classic looking. Portland’s Winn Perry has two styles: the Jack Purcell-esque Courts and the Vans-esque Oxfords, and both cost $140.

The Hill-Side

The only slip-ons to make the list come from our buddies at The Hill-Side. These too are artisan-made in Japan and have vulcanized natural rubber soles. They come in two colorways, both of which will run you $150. The Hill-Side also makes a variety of classically styled lace-up sneakers which range from $175 – $225, depending on the fabrics used for their uppers.

Maison Kitsuné Shop

Coming in at $235 are the deck-style Plimsoll Sneakers from Maison Kitsuné, which are designed in France, made in Japan, and have cotton uppers, rubber soles, gold eyelets, and are available in three colors at East Dane.

Common Projects

And finally, there are the canvas Achilles Lows and Toe Cap Lows from Common Projects. These are made in Italy out of Italian materials. They’re also fully lined with natural leather, which makes them more comfortable without socks and helps to prevent odor. End Clothing has both styles, and prices start at a wince-inducing $319.

  • Frank

    The American Apparels are actually absurdly well made for the price – I bought a pair when they first came out a few years ago and they’re still going strong. I wanted to like the Kenyatas because I respect Industry of All Nations and god knows Kenya needs the investment, but they had a very awkward fit and started coming apart almost immediately. I got a pair of Hill Sides last year on clearance and came away feeling pretty meh about them – nothing about the materials or construction seemed to justify the price.

    The Doek look pretty cool though – definitely like the looks of them more than Shoes Like Pottery (which is just a bizarre marketing strategy – vulcanized soles aren’t that unique, even the Novestas have vulcanized soles). Gonna put those on the list.

    Awesome rundown! Another decent option could be the Ball and Buck/PF Flyers collaboration. Hi top, made in Boston, $150.

    • I really, really want to like those PF Flyers more, and I definitely considered them for this round-up, but I’m just not feeling them. At all.

      I really wish they had just made a basic, all-canvas low top for their US collection. That would have been a game changer.

      • Trevor James McCurry

        any thoughts on the us made converse?

        • What US-made Converse? Are there US-made Converse? I’d love a pair of US-made Converse.

          But last I checked, everything was made overseas.

          • Watcho

            There are no US-made Converse except on eBay.

      • Frank

        Absolutely not my taste either – like random pieces of leather sewn on everywhere.

  • Watcho

    Nike and New Balance have really missed the boat with their 70’s retro Chucks and PF Flyers, respectively. Both are opportunities to bang out a US-made classic, and small batch enough that I’m sure they could get it done. But whatever.

    For a cool slip-on and/or plimsoll look with little details here and there, check out these French/Portuguese bad boys. I’ve been wearing a pair since Feb and they’re bulletproof.

    • Regardless of where the Chucks are made.. the 70’s Retros are really nice.

      • Watcho

        There’s no argument about the look, but there’s also no “regardless of where (they’re) made.” They’re made in deplorable conditions, and this site takes that into consideration.

  • lifesapicnic

    Dang those Novestas look fresh for only 65 bones. Might have to scoop for the summer.

    • camp6ell

      I got a pair recently (from the post here a few weeks ago).
      Wearing them today for first time and they’re comfortable enough.
      They’re very like the traditional/basic low top model of PF Flyers, in that they’re quite flat/wide.
      They are VERY heavy. Not saying it’s good or bad, they’re just surprisingly heavy.

      Note that what Oi Polloi calls “grey” is really more of a baby blue…

      • somethinglemony

        What’s the sizing like? I wear an 11 in PF Flyers and the size guide on the Novesta site said to take a 45.

        • camp6ell

          I’m a solid Us10 / EU43 in most every brand and these fit true to size in a 43.

  • A Poor Mans Millions

    I have a black leather pair of Vejar’s, once worn in they just keen going. Had them for almost 2 years now.