These Comfy, Sustainable Sneakers Were Definitely Worth the Wait
12,000 people queued up to buy a pair.
I own more than 60 pairs of shoes, half of which are sneakers. And while I don’t consider myself a sneakerhead — a shoeaholic, yes — I’ve somehow amassed quite an impressive collection of them.
I walk a lot, and I walk fast, so comfortable, lightweight kicks that won’t slow me down are key. And that’s exactly why I set my sights on Cariuma’s Ibi sneaker. It was described to be light as air (bless), promised zero break-in time, and was, perhaps most importantly, not only easy on the eyes, but easy on the environment, too.
Cariuma’s famed Ibi is a cool, light-as-a-feather sneaker that men and women around the world have literally lined up for (albeit virtually, via a long 12,000-person waitlist). Since officially launching in October 2019, the style has sold out and been restocked three separate times, further proving that though the sneaker market is vast and far-reaching, the Ibi struck a special cord with people.
Shop now: $98; cariuma.com
The anatomy of the Ibi is a large reason why shoppers, including myself, were so drawn to it. Boasting a knit upper designed from a blend of self-generating bamboo and recycled plastic, the Ibi is 100 percent vegan, something customers had been begging the brand for. The thicker, platform-like sole is made from sugarcane and the easily removable laces are made from recycled plastic bottles, making the sneakers entirely carbon neutral. That means with each stylish step — because, yes, these sneakers, which come in nine beautiful colorways, are damn stylish — you’re leaving behind a smaller footprint.
Now, back to me: When I finally got my rose-colored Ibi sneakers in the mail, I had high expectations, but the minute I held them in my hands, my expectations were exceeded. The knit upper was so trend-forward, but aesthetics aside, the shoe’s bamboo-plastic blend seemed to be incredibly breathable, and as someone who tends to get sweaty feet, this was a huge plus. The Ibi was so easy to slip into and so light, I nearly forgot I was even wearing shoes while modeling them around my apartment.
Then came the walking test. Could I stand to wear these shoes — without any break-in time — for a city adventure that required lots of walking. The short answer: Yes. The long answer: I trekked from 92nd street all the way to 50th street in search of a monstera leaf (my room needed some greenery, okay), and I actually felt like my feet were set atop a cloud the entire time. There was no uncomfortable pinching or rubbing anywhere (my feet are on the wider side, so narrow sneakers just won’t cut it), the back of my heels didn’t get irritated, and I wasn’t dying to take my shoes off the second I got back home. In short, I think I’ve officially found my sole’s perfect mate (a soulmate, not yet, but this will do for now).
One other major bonus? The $98 Ibi is machine-washable (just make sure to take out the insoles and laces before throwing them in the wash) — and since a new CDC study recently showed the novel coronavirus can live on shoes, the washable aspect seems more important and relevant than ever.
Cariuma also offers a slew of other amazing styles, like the OCA Low Canvas sneaker that’s available in 11 colorways. According to the brand, the white canvas iteration has seen a 500 percent increase in sales during the springtime and the mood-boosting green and yellow versions have already amassed long waitlists.
What’s more, in honor of Earth Day, Cariuma has committed to planting 10,000 trees, and with every purchase made using the promo code OUREARTH, it’ll plant an additional 10 in the Brailizan Rainforest.
That said, there’s no better time than now to scoop up these sustainable sneakers. I already have the green OCA sneakers in my cart — how about you?
We're shining a spotlight on sustainability in fashion to help spread the word: Reusing, re-purposing, and re-styling is never a bad look.