When it comes to shoes – especially sneakers – you know that the look is never really that universal. You’ll see the shoes on the model, the shoes in real life, but they’ll always have a unique fit on you.
So we decided to do something different when we discovered Cariuma, and instead, had our team try them on, instead. Who better to tell the truth, right?
These six women – Deema, Yannise, Meagan, Aafiyah, Tamanna, and Tiara – are the willing testers.
Meagan (top left): I work in an office setting so I’m all heels and flats during the week and typically wear booties or flipflops (depending on the weather) on the weekends. Sneakers? Not so much. I never felt like I had the legs or style to wear them without looking a little silly. I mean, of course, I wear them to the gym, but that’s different!
Aafiyah (top middle): I don’t really wear sneakers, choosing instead to wear boots. I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to buy sneakers that are reasonably priced and still be able to dress well. Instead, I usually choose to wear boots and my past experiences with sneakers? Nothing to write home about.
I never felt like I had the legs or style to wear them without looking a little silly. —Meagan
Tamanna (top right): Sneakers are my everyday go-to, but finding shoes that are stylish, sustainable, and comfortable is close to impossible. In my experience, I have to compromise at least one of these factors for the rest. Because of my chronic pain, I prioritize comfort, ending up with sneakers that allow me to painlessly go through my day.
Tiara (bottom left): I’ve always been a big sneakerhead. I grew up in the South and it’s just a part of the culture there. Every year, I was always so excited to pick out a new pair of sneakers to show off to my friends. To this day, I’ll quickly grab a pair of sneakers over anything else. Comfort is a must, though, otherwise, I get plantar fasciitis, which exacerbates my flat feet and bad ankles.
Deema (bottom middle): More often than not, my carefully-curated sneaker collection can’t be used out of fear of creasing and wear. As someone who wears sneakers 75% of the time, this can be a bit of a struggle. Logical? Not really, but hey, aesthetics matter to me.
I’ve always been a big sneakerhead. I grew up in the South and it’s just a part of the culture there. —Tiara
Yannise (bottom right): I don’t remember when it became the norm, but sneakers have always been my go-to for casual footwear. If I had to choose my favorite brand of sneakers before this experiment, I’d have to say Converse. Their style has always appealed to me, and can really elevate an outfit. I’ll wear them down until they have nothing but holes in them, which I prefer anyway!
Since Cariuma’s always touting just how eco-friendly, consciously-made, and comfortable their shoes are, we definitely had to put them to the test. So we each got a pair and wore them every day for a week. Here’s what happened.
…some thoughts while waiting for the packages to arrive…
Meagan: Frankly, I was a little worried. I kept thinking, ugh they’re suede so I can’t wear them everywhere, plus I have no idea how to match sneakers to my outfits.
Deema: I’ve been a borderline sneakerhead since I wore my first pair of classic Adidas. When I discovered Cariuma, I was hesitant. Ordering shoes that were ethically sourced was something that was largely new to me. In a way, ordering the clean-cut OCA Low sneakers in Off White Canvas felt like a way to “give back.”
Tiara: Before the shoes arrived, I assumed they wouldn’t work for me. Generally, canvas shoes that look similar to the OCA Low sneakers that sport the flat bottom shape are absolutely terrible for my feet. I was also worried they wouldn’t fit since my feet are wide (flat + wide feet = difficult to find cute shoes).
The shoes we got were a variety of OCA Low and High sneakers. Sustainable and eco-conscious materials are a big part of Cariuma’s brand, and they use everything from canvas, rubber, and leather (both vegan and not) to make their stuff.
So some of us really loved getting the packages in the mail. Like, really, really loved it.
Tamanna: The first thing that caught my eye when I received the shoes was minimal packaging. I have reused, repurposed, and recycled every part of the packaging, which is rare for an international online order.
Aafiyah: The box is bright and colorful. I love it! To this day, I still put my shoes back in the box so that I have an excuse to keep the box.
I have reused, repurposed, and recycled every part of the packaging, which is rare for this sort of order. —Tamanna
Tiara: When the shoes arrived at my door, I was so excited! I’m a massive shopping junkie, and I absolutely adored the Cariuma packaging. I know it sounds strange but I loved that the box was completely sealed. I hate when I order shoes that come in the traditional box because they’re always half-open. I’ve had instances when my shoes come all messed up. I especially liked that Cariuma sends you two pairs of shoelaces because it allows me to play around with my style a lot more.
…and how things went down when we threw our fresh pairs on for the first day out:
Yannise: Putting on the OCA Low Stripe Leopard Suede sneakers wasn’t difficult, and they surprisingly had some height to them (I am 5’1 and love those extra inches). Since I was going to work, I wore light blue high-waisted jeans, a gray long-sleeved top, and an oversized black jacket. Usually, I wear long socks, but this time I chose to wear ankle socks with these shoes. Big mistake.
Not only was it a rainy day, but the back of my socks slid off of my heel, making the commute somewhat uncomfortable. Can’t blame that on the sneakers, but definitely make sure you’re wearing longer socks if you rock the low tops (or no socks!).
Tamanna: I got the OCA Low Navy Canvas sneakers. I was excited because they aren’t completely neutral and can bring some understated color to an outfit. On my first day, I styled them with wide pants and a colorful button-up. I love that they didn’t take away from my overall look, but were also interesting in their own right. Over the next few days, I styled these sneakers with midi skirts, jeans, and dresses.
I styled the shoes with a metallic blue skirt from Zara and Madewell shirt and the sneakers pulled the entire look together, giving a classic edge to street style. —Deema
Meagan: When I pulled out my OCA High All Camel Suede sneakers, I couldn’t wait for daylight to try them out – I decided to go out that night. I immediately put in the brown laces (the OCA sneakers come with two shoelace colors) and was off to a winery with some friends. I combined them with jeans and a green flannel shirt. I looked cute.
Deema: I tried the OCA Low Off White Canvas sneakers on the spot and instantly felt relieved that I didn’t have to worry about creasing the soft canvas. The shoe’s low-cut heel and complementary off-white canvas gave the shoe texture, adopting street style’s shift to juxtaposing textures while retroactively supporting sustainable fashion. I styled the shoes with a metallic blue skirt from Zara and Madewell shirt and the sneakers pulled the entire look together, giving a classic edge to street style.
Tiara: The next morning I styled the OCA Low All Black Suede sneakers with my normal work attire: black slacks and a sweater, and took off. When I wear shoes with no support I can almost immediately feel the shock in my ankles when my feet hit the concrete, but that wasn’t the case this time! I can’t say I made it all the way to work without any twinges of normal discomfort, but they’re much more comfortable than most of my other shoes. My ankles remained supported and for me, that’s a win.
Now that our week with Cariuma is over, here are our main takeaways:
Meagan: I will say that the next day my butt was a little sore…strange right? I wonder if the shoes act like shape-ups and help tone my legs while I wear them? Technically, they aren’t meant for that, but that’s my belief. Honestly, these are cute-ass sneaks that match with a ton of different stuff and they are ethically-created. Plus I didn’t experience any of those first-day-of-wearing-new-shoes blisters. The price for what you’re getting? Worth it.
Aafiyah: To be completely honest, initially, the inner sole cushioning worried me slightly, and that I would feel it against my foot. However, it’s felt like I’ve been walking on a cloud.
Honestly, these are cute-ass sneaks that match with a ton of different stuff. —Meagan
Since I first heard about Cariuma through The Tempest (they’re not that well-known in the UK), I was worried about how good these shoes actually were. To date, though, none of my other shoes compare to the comfort of these sneakers. Since the first day I slipped these on, they remain my go-to for whenever I have to do something for long periods of time. I’m a massive fan.
The shoes are light, somewhat airy, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything less than a cloud. —Yannise
Tamanna: I love these sneakers, and they’re going in my regular rotation! Even after my busiest days, my feet didn’t get cramps like they usually had before I discovered Cariuma. There was a break-in period for me (I mostly felt it on my ankles), but after a week, they felt like a second skin. These days, you’ll find me in my Cariumas if you run into me – so my verdict? Hell yes.
Tiara: To my surprise, I was pleasantly comfortable in my Cariumas – but! Cariuma, if you’re reading this: in the future, I’d love to see a little bit more cushion or arch support, for those of us with foot problems. I feel like it’s possible to have cute shoes that both help out the wearer and the environment.
[We reached out and asked Cariuma, and they stated that”our insole is completely removable and can be replaced with special insoles as needed by the wearer!”]
Even after my busiest days, my feet didn’t get cramps like they usually had before I discovered Cariuma. —Tamanna
Deema: The shoes did not disappoint. I’ve been wearing my Cariumas for over a month now, and the fact that they only get more comfortable every day makes me a die-hard supporter. The shoe’s classic look and resilience to wear and tear consistently delivers, making them one of my favorite accessories. Absolute 10/10 on quality, style, and performance.
Yannise: The shoes are light, somewhat airy, so it doesn’t feel like you’re dragging your feet (which is a massive plus if you live in New York City). Of course, they will feel a little tight when you first wear them, just like with any new shoe. But they’re perfect for styling with any type of wear—casual, formal, dressy, etc. Overall? Ten outta ten.