Buying ethically can be difficult when it comes to certain categories of clothes. Shoes are one of them. Once you get past the 'is leather ethical?' debate, you've got to find a pair you like and then make sure they fit, otherwise there is no point in having them anyway. This is a bit of a problem as a lot of 'ethical' shoe shops are online only, meaning you can't really try them on before you buy (important when you have awkward feet like mine!).
One way to solve the leather debate is to buy plastic-y faux-leather shoes on the highstreet, but then you get the supply chain issues associated with fast fashion. Alternatively, you can invest in good quality, usually leather, shoes that are built to last (and actually worth re-soling a few times). At least this second option is good for the environment, though not particularly vegetarian.
Alternatively, and the most ethical source I can think of, you can get them second-hand. My feet have been getting rather chilly in my ballet pumps here, so winter boots were required. I tried out some of the 'investment-style' shoes in some higher-end high street shops, but by chance stumbled upon these in a Dépôt-Vente on the way home from work. Dépôt-Vente shops are sort of like designer thrift shops, stocking quality second hand, where the seller earns a comission on what they sell on behalf of the original owner. I'm pretty sure I've seen similar things in England!
The only issue is, the items tend to be quite expensive. I paid €70 for these Kickers boots, which are in excellent condition but have got signs of wear. I estimate they'd be about €120 new. In cash-strapped student/intern times, is this acceptable as a price? What value should second hand clothes have?
I'm in two minds about it...
(but look, aren't they beautiful?)