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I’m no stranger to walking around for long periods of time, including in the city where I was born— the Big Apple. I’ve also experienced my fair share of sore, aching feet after standing and walking to heavy metal concerts and other events. That’s why I decided to lace up a pair of Cariuma high-top sneakers — an eco-friendly shoe with a cult-like following — to see whether they could take a load off my feet. Here’s what happened when I walked a few city blocks in them.
What are Cariuma shoes?
Cariuma was founded by David Python and Fernando Porto in response to persistent issues in the trendy footwear space. Not only were many fashionable shoes uncomfortable and expensive, but they were also rarely produced with sustainable sourcing or eco-friendly manufacturing.
Python and Porto launched Cariuma as an affordable, stylish, comfortable and eco-conscious footwear brand in 2018. The company uses sustainable and recycled materials, like cork and bamboo, and they aim to manufacture with a negative carbon emissions balance. According to Cariuma, you’ll be “lighter on your feet and leave behind a smaller footprint” with their shoes.
Cariuma has seven core designs on the market that range from casual slip-ons to sporty high-tops — and the latter piqued my interest as a potential city-walking shoe.
How to wear Cariuma shoes
When I unboxed the white Cariuma canvas high-tops, I was immediately drawn to their clean, contemporary aesthetic. They’re undoubtedly neutral as a white shoe, and their design makes them easier to style than most sneakers I’ve worn.
The high-top coordinated easily with my sportier getups of leggings and hoodies, as well as travel-friendly casual outfits I’d wear in the city, like skinny jeans or faux leather leggings with sleeveless blouses. After wearing the Cariumas with a few different outfits, I realized that I’d been styling these high-tops like boots most of the time.
Basically, I was getting the best of both worlds. They have the bootie silhouette (that I’m a diehard fan of) with the comfort of a sneaker. The cushioned vegan footbed and lightweight construction were much easier to walk in during extended periods than most boots, including those I’ve worn with supportive insoles.
What you need to know before purchasing Cariuma shoes
I’ll be the first person to admit it’s not easy keeping white canvas shoes clean in outdoor settings. I’ve found it’s easy to clean them with a soft brush and, if necessary, gentle detergent. Cariuma also recommends preventive maintenance to keep shoes clean by treating them with stain-repellent products and natural deodorizing sprays.
Cariuma’s shoeboxes are just as eco-friendly as the brand’s footwear. You can either repurpose the box like I did or you can recycle it. Some people save it to store the shoes between wears.
The Cariuma high-tops have eight eyelets, which means lacing and adjusting is part and parcel of owning the shoe. It’s not a deal-breaker, especially if you’ve ever owned Doc Martens or Chuck Taylors, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking for grab-and-go footwear.
Where to buy Cariuma shoes
You can pick up the Cariuma Canvas OCA High shoes at Cariuma for $98. They’re available in men’s and women’s sizes and come in off-white, black, navy blue and all black. Other Cariuma styles are priced from $79 to $169.
Other products worth considering
Not only did this style sell out preorders back in 2020, but it remains a bestselling style for its flexible fit. To boot, it’s sustainably made with harvested bamboo and recycled plastics.
Sold by Cariuma
This Allbirds shoe is made with ethically sourced wool that is naturally water repellent and a sole that reduces odors. The cozy, comfortable style also happens to be machine washable.
Sold by Allbirds
The lightweight, flexible construction of this Skechers slip-on makes it a popular choice for travel. It absorbs shock and promises a cloudlike walking experience.
Sold by Amazon
Nike’s newer Flex Experience running shoe has a dynamic design that supports natural movement. The cushioned heel absorbs shock and keeps wearers comfortable all day long.
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.