These Absurdly Comfortable Sustainable Sneakers Often Have A Waitlist In The Thousands – Here's Why

In partnership with Cariuma. Editor’s Note: We only select and work with partners that meet our quality standards, so you can rest assured we only endorse products we believe in.

I recently did a big closet cleanout – and it left me feeling about five pounds lighter. I’ve aspired to a capsule wardrobe for some time, meaning that each piece in my closet is essential, quality-made, and versatile enough to work with most other pieces. While I’m not quite there, I’ve set my sights on what I’ll call a “capsule-inspired” wardrobe in the meantime.

As I’ve begun shopping for new additions to my very bare closet, Cariuma, the sustainable sneaker brand that once logged a waitlist of over 34,000, has appeared everywhere I look – from Refinery 29 to Who What Wear, and even Hypebeast. With seemingly everyone and their mother’s blessing, I recently tested a pair to see what the hype is about – and my feet have thanked me each day since. 

Not Just Any Casual Sneaker

I’m aware that casual, everyday sneakers aren't exactly a novel concept (I removed several beer-and-dirt coated pairs from my closet during my recent purge, in fact). Cariuma’s founders are too – both spent years working in the footwear industry before leaving corporate jobs to launch this venture. It’s no secret that giants like Converse, Vans, and Keds have dominated the everyday-shoe space for years. But, if you’ve worn or researched these traditional brands, you may have noticed that they’re hard on your feet…and just as bad for the environment. Cariuma was built as an alternative – both for people and the planet. 

The most comfortable everyday sneakers I’ve ever worn

Shoes Made For People... Who Want to Float on Clouds

At first glance, Cariumas appear to be in the Converse (or Vans, Keds) family: their high and low top everyday sneakers come in canvas, suede, or leather and a variety of prints and colors. But, I very quickly realized that while these brands may look alike, the difference between traditional everyday sneakers and Cariumas is like that of walking on rocks versus floating on clouds.

That’s because Cariumas are likely the most thoughtfully-crafted shoes I’ve put on my feet. Cariuma actually connects and listens to its customers, which is one element to the brand’s success: while most larger brands have neither the impetus or infrastructure for regular improvements and iterations, Cariuma is nimble and hungry to craft something better (and better, and better). Each new drop features a mix of in-house design and buyer feedback – and the result is a shoe that’s as comfortable as it is cool.

Some key features of each pair of Cariuma sneakers

Old-School Meets New-School

Cariuma has gotten a lot of good press (like, a lot, a lot), but my favorite description of the brand actually comes from its own site – Cariuma features an “old-school aesthetic as long as it’s made with new-school ethics.” Cariuma’s commitment to sustainability is real. They’re creating a new standard of production in their many environmental initiatives, some of which include:

  • Design: during the product development phase, Cariuma optimizes designs to minimize the number of steps required for production
  • Materials: Cariuma sources only premium, natural, raw materials (like hevea brasiliensis tree rubber and Global Organic Textile Standard- certified cotton) and is committed to increasing their vegan production to 50% of products by 2021
  • Production: each of Cariuma’s vendors signs a “Code of Conduct” that guarantees fair wages and conditions for employees,  
  • Shipping: Cariuma’s shoebox doubles as its shipping container, and all of their shipping is carbon neutral
  • Product lifecycle: Cariuma shoes are designed to last, meaning shoppers ultimately have to buy less -- and use fewer resources in the process 

I would be hard-pressed to find a brand as committed to the environment as Cariuma – and I’m happy to know they’re proving that a new standard of ethics is achievable. 

Each pair ships in its shoebox

Taking A Walk On The Sustainable Side

Choosing just one style to try was a process in and of itself. Cariuma currently offers several styles ranging from high tops to low tops, skate-inspired to classic, so I had an abundance of options to choose from when browsing the site. I went with the brand’s “classic cool” OCA Low in Snow White, a collaboration with Pantone (the “global authority for color communication and inspiration”) designed to be worn for just about any occasion. Their functionality deemed them essential, their sustainable production checked the box for quality, and their timeless style earned them top marks for versatility – the perfect fit for my aspirational capsule wardrobe. 

Something for everyone...

I was stunned at how quickly my new shoes arrived and amazed at their thoughtful packaging (why do most other brands ship a shoebox within another box?!). My OCA Lows have been comfortable since the moment I stepped foot in them and required no blistering or breaking in. I’ve found them useful just about everyday, whether it be wearing them to walk the dog, run errands, or meet friends for happy hour. They look and feel how I’ve always wished everyday sneakers would, and it feels great knowing I’m supporting a brand that’s committed to supporting me and the environment. 

A closer look

It’s no wonder every outlet sings the brand’s praises, Pantone has launched two collaborations with Cariuma, and drops regularly amass waitlists that range into the thousands. Buying a pair of Cariuma sneakers is much bigger than making a fashion statement – it’s an investment in a brighter future and a brand that’s leading the charge in sustainable fashion. Where Cariuma leads, I will follow – wearing my new favorite sneakers, of course. 

5 More Things To Love About The Brand: 

  • Cariuma’s commitment to being a leader in sustainability is noticeable in every stage of  its production.
  • Cariuma sneakers are regularly sold out and amass a huge waitlist – if they’re in stock when you’re browsing, hit purchase, (and quickly).
  • Cariuma plants two trees in the Brazilian Rainforest with each pair sold. 
  • These shoes are designed for style and comfort and they don’t skim on either front. 
  • They’re designed with longevity in mind, too – each pair will last!