Cariuma and the vegan shoes

Updated 5 March 2022 (please scroll down)

Earlier this year (~May 2021) I was wondering if Cariuma - the non-skate-fashion-people-decide-to-make-a-skate-shoe-company company - was ever going to make a vegan shoe that was an actual skate shoe. And ... maybe under the influence of a bit of weltschmerz ... I suspected the answer to that question to be: the answer is never.

Back in May 2021 I wrote: "Cariuma's only vegan shoes are plain canvas shoes." Then I decided to postpone my blog post and just wait a little more ... and then I forgot about Cariuma ... until today, for some reason, my not at all clairvoyant self decided to check the Cariuma website ... and there was the vegan Mike Vallely shoe. And I checked Mike V's instagram, and there was a post from just today, (sort of) announcing the shoe.

I hope he'll be on the Nine Club (as announced in their 31 May 2021 "stop and chat" show) again shortly to promote these vegan shoes.

What happened earlier: back in May 2021 ... Cariuma stated:  

"IBI – brought to you by bamboo
You asked for a greener sneaker. We listened. We’ve crafted our vegan collection with plants & recycled plastics from heel to toe. We chose bamboo for its rapid self-regeneration – it’s cut from the stalk and grows back – leaving tree & soil intact. [...]
100% Vegan
Every component of this sneaker is made with the earth in mind." This was about their IBI "canvas" (actually bamboo) shoe. Slogan: "The vegan sneaker approved by non-vegans." 

And from another page on which they praised their IBI shoe (at the time, the only vegan shoe they had):
"When your sneakers go vegan ...
It’s sustainable. It’s stylish. It’s a look good, feel better thing."

And then there was some blurb about the leather that Cariuma uses and how it's more sustainable (you can read that "blurb" below) - Cariuma elegantly avoid any mention of animals, because "no animals were slaughtered for our shoes" is something they cannot claim, of course.

Then, however, something interesting:
"43% of our products are 100% vegan." (All companies should have this info on their website!)

"Since day one, our mission has been to make things in a way that’s better for people and the planet. It’s a journey. We are constantly evaluating and evolving our processes to be greener than they were the day before.
We are committed to increasing our vegan products to over 50% by 2021. [They did! See below. (... unless they're lying, of course)]
[...]"

This info is still from May 2021:
"Fair Working Hours & Wages
As a new sustainable sneaker brand, our team is small, yet mighty. We’ve created a close-knit community of people that really care about what they are doing when they get out of bed every morning. We ensure that our factory workers make a comfortable, living wage and adhere to a manageable work week to ensure a healthy work/ life balance. We follow International Labor Organization (ILO) Guidelines which promote and uphold social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights, in order to pursue universal and lasting peace."

As of November 2021, this has been updated to:
"Fair Working Hours & Wages
As a new sustainable sneaker brand, our team is small, yet mighty. We’ve created a close-knit community of people that really care about what they are doing when they get out of bed every morning. We ensure that our factories’ workers make a comfortable, living wage and adhere to a manageable work week to ensure a healthy work/ life balance. Based on the International Labor Organization (ILO) minimum wage policy guide, the average wage paid by our supply partners is 79% above the legal minimum wage, and the lowest wage is 47% above the minimum wage. Across the board, through our Code of Conduct, our suppliers and us are committed to upholding internationally recognized principles of social justice and labor rights."
That they have actually updated this text may be a good sign (it seems to me). And, assuming this info isn't all made up, it's surely something that not all companies (or vegan restaurants) can claim.

---

Nor finally: November 2021 ... the vegan Mike Vallely pro model. If you do not know who Mike V is, may god help you.

Here's all the text regarding the shoe and all the photos of the shoe ... so that in 10 years from now, god willing (no, I don't believe in god), you'll still be able to read and see it.  

"Meet The Vallely
Mike Vallely is iconic. Together we designed an icon: a high-performance skate shoe with heart."

"Description
This pro skate shoe is 100% vegan, and introduces two new materials to our design toolkit. Our new, high performance vegan suede is 2.5X more resistant than animal suede. Recycled fabric webbing makes for an ultra-durable combination. The contrasting materials and detailed stippling are a nostalgic hint to the basketball shoes Mike famously preferred to skate in the 80s." Maybe they mean this. The hint to 1980s basketball high-tops (Nike, Reebok, etc.) is subtle (non-existent), luckily. 

"More Details
Upper: High performance vegan suede and heavy-duty recycled fabric
Lining: Recycled mesh lining
Sole: Slip-resistant, natural rubber [A natural rubber sole! Quite impressive. I would really like to test it.]
Insole: Removable, cork + bio-based foam (from mamona oil)
Laces: Made with recycled plastics, and debossed metal aglets
Construction: Handmade vulcanized sneaker; stitched midsole"

"High Performance Vegan Suede
Did you know? Our vegan suede is 2.5X more resistant than animal suede. [I hope, this is true. Too good to be true?]
Heavy-Duty Recycled Fabric
Our recycled polyester fabric makes for an ultra-durable webbing.
Heavy-Duty Construction
Designed for durability and a longer life span [I hope this is true], The Vallely features a triple-stitched upper, fully stitched outsole, and rubber overlays." [Awesome!]

"100% Vegan Comfort
Our cork + memory foam (from mamona oil) insoles are super comfy and plant-based, tucked inside a vulcanized natural rubber outsole."

"Get a Pair of Sneakers, Plant 2 Trees
Nurturing the planet is a cause that’s very dear to us at Cariuma. That’s why we decided to start our own Reforestation Program in our founders’ homeland, Brazil, where the rainforests are home to an increasing number of endangered plants & animals. For every pair of sustainable sneakers purchased, we plant a pair of trees in the Brazilian rainforest to directly aid in the restoration and preservation of these natural habitats." [But who can verify something like that?]

If you click on the "Learn more" link with info regarding sustainability, you'll find this info:
"[...] Long story short, after working together for a few years and bonding over our mutual love of boardsports (skateboarding, surfing & snowboarding) & our home country Brazil, we decided to join forces to start Cariuma. [...]"
In my personal opinion, everyone who uses the phrase "love of our home country" is more than dodgy. I know (think I know) that this isn't something unusual at all for someone from Brazil to say, but that doesn't make it ANY less dodgy. If you remember the poster by John Yates (1990s, AK Press) that said "patriotism is the egg from which racism is hatched" ... don't say I didn't tell you.

More from the Cariuma website (November 2021):
"[...] (Fast fashion isn’t sustainable.) Each sneaker style is designed to be high quality and low impact.[...]"
"[...] We are proud to be a part of the vibrant B Corp community [...]"

The following points also seem quite good.
They use natural rubber (also in the Mike Vallely shoe):
"Our perfectly-weighted natural rubber is gathered from the hevea brasiliensis tree through ethical “tapping” (removing a milky sap from its bark)."

They use bamboo (not in the Mike Vallely shoe):
"Our bamboo is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, OEKO-TEX, and the Organic Crop Improvement Association."

They use organic cotton (not in the Mike Vallely shoe):
"We exclusively source organic cotton that is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This cotton is grown with regenerative methods, without harmful pesticides or fertilizers, and directly combats heavy soil erosion and nitrate leaching (both characteristic of conventional farming). Organic cotton also means farmers, agricultural workers, and anyone involved in the manufacturing process of our sustainable sneakers are safe from toxic chemicals and pesticides. We are committed to choosing the pro-Earth option, always."

They use sugarcane (not in the Mike Vallely shoe):
"Our sugarcane is sourced from Brazil and relies on rainwater to thrive (not traditional irrigation). It’s a fully-renewable, bio-based resource that grows quickly and naturally removes carbon from the atmosphere. Our sugarcane is certified by I’M GREEN."

They use cork (also in the Mike Vallely shoe):
"Cork is a natural and sustainable material. To procure it, it is carefully scraped from the cork tree so that the tree remains intact and can form new bark. Cork ensures a healthy environment and all-day comfort for your feet."

They use mamona oil (also in the Mike Vallely shoe):
"Mamona is a plant-based and organic alternative to petroleum. We chose this natural oil in order to significantly decrease our use of virgin plastics and increase the natural content of our products, thus delivering a much greener foam."

They use recycled PET [Polyethylene terephthalate] (also in the Mike Vallely shoe, I think, but probably [?] not in the vegan suede):
"We’ve made it our mission to significantly reduce our use of virgin plastics. The vast majority of plastics used in our upper, laces, labels and threads are derived from recycled plastic bottles. Recycling, reducing and repurposing is the only responsible way forward. Our recycled PET is certified by Global Recycled Standard."

They use SOME recycled paper (also in the Mike Vallely shoe - the shoe box):
"In addition to utilizing single-box packaging (our shoe box doubles as a shipping box), we use 100% recycled & recyclable paper [... Isn't all paper recyclable?] to cushion your new kicks on their journey to your front door. We color all of our packaging with soy-based ink, which doesn’t compromise the recyclability of the packaging materials. Oh, and our shoe filler (to keep your sneaks from getting squashed during transit) is biodegradable. Our recycled/recyclable paper is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council."

They use eco-friendly dyes (I'm assuming, this is also true for the Mike Vallely shoe):
"We wanted to ensure that no hazardous chemicals would be used in our manufacturing process (to make things as safe as possible for our workers). So, we chose Bluesign-certified chemicals to dye our materials. Working with Bluesign also helps our factory to function more efficiently, reduces our water usage and helps with pollution control."

They have some precise info regarding traceability:
"Cariuma's Traceability

Tier-1 Suppliers
We have 100% Traceability into our Footwear Manufacturer.

Tier-2 Suppliers
We have 85% Traceability into our Raw Material Processors, Mills, Knitting, Packaging, Outsole Factory and Components in General.

Tier-3 Suppliers
We have 59% Traceability into our Yarns, Polymers and Chips."

They have info regarding "code of conduct":
"Our Code of Conduct
We care deeply about choosing partners that share our sustainability mission. Our Code of Conduct reflects these core values as a brand. For details, click here. NOTE: Our manufacturing partner is audited against our Code of Conduct and is now certified WRAP - GOLD. Audits are conducted once a year. In 2021, we plan to extend our audit to the remaining tiers of Suppliers to increase traceability. We also conduct IPE screening on suppliers once a year, to ensure there is no record of environmental issues. Also, our team routinely visits our suppliers and keeps a close working relationship."
This may sound boring but includes info regarding forced labour, child labour, wages, discrimination, working conditions, holidays, labour unions, etc. Every company should provide this info.

They provide info regarding their company culture:
"Our Company Culture
Creating a safe space to come to work every day is vital to our success. The mental, emotional and physical health and well-being of our workers is our top priority. We put people at the center of everything we do. Without our dedicated team of craftsmen & women, we would be nothing."
Call me cynical, but this sounds like a bit of a lie. If not, I want to work for them. 

I hope that - regarding these points above - Cariuma is raising the standard for all the skate shoe companies to follow.

Yes, still horrible about Cariuma: they use a lot of leather.
"Our leather & suede is responsibly sourced from Argentina, Thailand, Brazil, and China. None of our premium materials are sourced from the Amazon or any area deforested for cattle-farming purposes. 100% of the water used to produce our leather and suede is recycled and reused. Alternative energy sources such as solar panels are used to ensure a smaller footprint. Our leather and suede is certified by Leather Working Group."
However, Cariuma has now created new (additional) styles that are fully suede or fully leather and they market these shoes with phrases like "made with new-school ethics. Now available in luxurious Triple Camel Suede." 
The "Read more" link behind the leather blurb is broken. Cariuma even uses leather on some of their insoles - what could be more unnecessary?
more e
On the brighter side: Cariuma's vegan percentage progress ...
"65% of our products are 100% Vegan.
Our mission is to make things in a way that's better for people and the planet [animals are not mentioned]. We are constantly evaluating and evolving our processes to be greener than they were the day before.
Since 2020, we have increased our vegan shoe offerings from 43% to 65%."
... not a lot of shoe companies can say that, right?

Now, here's the shoes:
They also come in women's sizes! (= narrower shoes)

Cariuma "The Vallely" black / ivory










From Mike V's instagram (14 November 2021):


Cariuma "The Vallely" off-white vintage / black










Cariuma "The Vallely" grey / black









Cariuma "The Vallely" black & blue / ivory








Anatomy of a vegan skate shoe. Actually, this is exactly what vegan skate shoe should be made of. There is no need to have vegan suede in the middle - and not having it makes the shoe cheaper, lighter, and eco-friendlier.


All four colourways:


Screenshot from the website (14 November 2021):



And if nothing has convinced you so far ... they even have a video with a fake (= vegan) elephant:



Some more icons:
"
GREAT BOARD FEEL
ULTIMATE COMFORT
100% VEGAN
STICKY GRIP OUTSOLE
REINFORCED FLICK POINT
ETHICAL FACTORIES"


... and this looks almost exactly like the place where I used to work:





Update 30 January 2022:

What I only saw now is that the Cariuma Mike Vallely pro model shoe was announced on two very mainstream websites: Rolling Stone and Forbes (!). This seems to be quite unusual for a skate shoe, and Cariuma must have some serious connections and/or money to make that happen. Anyway, all power to them if it's for helping Mike V promote veganism. The Rolling Stone article is the usual pro skater on new shoe company spiel that you might hear from P ROD talking about Nike, a la "I've always admired them ...". While the Rolling Stone article doesn't unfortunately mention that Mike V is vegan and doesn't mention animal cruelty/slaughtering animals for shoes or anything of the kind, it does include the word "vegan" even in the headline and includes this info in the text: "“True sustainability [includes] extending the longevity of wear and Mike was adamant that this [be] the most durable skate shoe on the market. We created that,” Porto [one of the owners of Cariuma] says. “Our vegan suede is better for the environment and 2.5-times more resistant than animal suede. We did months of stress tests and reinforced all the stress points that skaters wear through the quickest. These shoes hold up against serious pressure.”
The other materials including the nylon, mesh lining, laces, threads and labels are all recycled. The outsole, meanwhile, is made of pure natural rubber, and the insoles are plant-based and made with mamona oil, making Vallelys ethically crafted and completely vegan." [1] So, while the old school (? -- I guess, nowadays it's perceived to be a bit old school) animal rights skater may be a bit disappointed about them mentioning leather-free shoes to only be "environmentally friendly" without a word on (dare I say, the atrocity of) killing animals, ... Rolling Stone promoting a vegan skate shoe is still quite something. Funny too that to Rolling Stone Mike V is "the singer of Black Flag". I mean, he is (the Forbes article tells us that he has "been the lead vocalist for punk band Black Flag since 2013" [2]), but Mike V is Mike V first and then also the singer of Black Flag and whatever else he's doing.

Quite a few steps more bizarre still is that Forbes also ran an article about the new vegan Mike V pro shoe. From the Forbes article: 
"" --> photo caption "Skateboarder Mike Vallely shows off his new Cariuma pro model that is the brand's first skate shoe to be made with vegan suede" [2]

"On Sunday [= 14 November 2021], rising sustainable sneaker brand Cariuma, which was founded in 2018 and formed its skate team in October 2020, announced its first ever 100% vegan pro shoe in collaboration with team member Mike Vallely.

Though Cariuma has produced vegan sneakers [non-skate canvas shoes], this is the first vegan skate shoe of its kind, made of high performance vegan suede that is 2.5 times more resistant than animal suede. The Brazilian brand has initially attracted consumers and pro skaters alike for its commitment to sustainable practices [I would guess, it has attracted skateboarders' attention by sponsoring a large number of awesome skateboarders and bombarding Instagram with content and covering the Berrics from floor to ceiling with Cariuma advertising]—even sometimes at the expense of its own bottom line.

But now, with the Vallely pro model, Cariuma has produced a shoe that, regardless of its sustainable manufacturing or vegan materials, is simply more durable than those of its competitors made with animal suede. [I'd love to test that - not that I have a direct comparison with animal suede.]
Cariuma co-founder Fernando Porto, who grew up skateboarding, had long wanted to collaborate with Vallely. “I’ve been a fan of his since I was very young,” Porto said. “For me it’s a big honor just to do something with him.”

--> photo caption "Pro skateboarder Mike Vallely joined Cariuma's skate team in 2020 and has just released his first pro model shoe with the company, constructed of vegan suede and other sustainable materials."

[...]

“Cariuma has a very diverse team; a few people are much more street skaters, a few people are more on the competition side,” said Porto. “But every single person in the team, no matter if it’s an Olympic medalist or someone who’s in skateboarding for 20 years already, everyone looks up to Mike Vallely.”

[...]

Thus, anyone who owns the CATIBA Pro and takes a look at the Vallely pro model will immediately notice the extra reinforcement around the toe with the natural rubber outsole. Inside, the recycled mesh lining reinforces the recycled nylon, making this vegan suede more durable than animal suede or canvas, the materials found in the vast majority of skate shoes.

Our big vegan audience is going to freak out about it, and on the skateboarding side being much more resistant would be the most sustainable thing no matter what,” Porto said. “If you make the shoes last longer, it’s already the most sustainable thing you can do in skateboarding shoes.”

Aesthetically, the shoe nods to Vallely’s love of basketball shoes. It comes in four colorways: charcoal, black, blue and white.

[Every photo caption in the article states that the shoes are vegan -->]
[photo caption -->] Cariuma's new skate shoe, the Mike Vallely pro model, is the brand's first to be made from vegan suede, a material that is 2.5 times more resistant than animal suede. It is available in four colorways: charcoal, black, white and blue.

[...]

Vallely has always been conscious of where the food and consumer products he buys come from, with an eye toward sustainability. “I find a true north in that kind of consumption,” he says. To wit, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when pro skaters would commonly smash their boards in a misguided attempt to embrace a punk rock ethos, Vallely always felt put-off. “I was always just like, how could you look at your skateboard as being so disposable, like a box of Kleenex?” Vallely said. “I always tried to make my board last as long as possible and tried to respect that they came from trees.”

All that being said, however, as a skater, durability and longevity are the most important qualities when it comes to footwear. Making shoes last longer, replacing them less frequently, is also the most sustainable practice, even outside of using vegan suede.

[...]

Anything he is going to be involved in or put his name on, Vallely says, is going to be a high-quality product that lasts. The fact that the Vallely pro model is also the first to be made of vegan suede and sustainable manufacturing is just the icing on the cake.

“Forget my involvement; I’ve just been waiting for a company that would come along, shake things up and do things different, and change the trajectory of the skateboard business, like Cariuma has” Vallely said.

Porto is the first to admit that manufacturing sustainable shoes—now with a proprietary vegan suede—takes longer and costs more, which is why Cariuma is one of the only companies doing it. There is only one supplier Cariuma can use for its vegan suede, because the company worked with him for two years developing it.

And with Covid-19 shockwaves continuing to wreak havoc on the global consumer supply chain even for well-established materials and goods, launching a new product with such limited sourcing during the pandemic hasn’t been for the faint of heart.

“You have to prepare really well; the supply chain is more complex for sure,” Porto said. “The materials are more expensive; anytime you go for anything that’s more sustainable and especially if it’s not more widely available, the big guys don’t usually go for the more sustainable option.”

Cariuma last week announced its recent B Corp Certification, the first ever skateboarding shoe company to hold the certification. Certified B Corporations must complete a B Impact Assessment to evaluate how their operations and business model impact their workers, community, environment and customers.

Other outdoors and action sports brands with B Corp Certifications include Patagonia, Burton and Comet Skateboards. Few major footwear brands appear on the list, but Veja, TOMS and Allbirds are three most people would know.

“Cariuma is the first brand of significance to do things in a sustainable way with a certain ethos,” Vallely said. “The messaging is very positive and forward-thinking. I think it’s the start of an evolution in skateboard manufacturing, and I hope it translates into other categories in skateboarding.”

The Vallely is available exclusively on Cariuma’s website and retails for $89." [The Vallely shoe costs 98 Euros on the European website.]

Just like the Rolling Stone article, the Forbes article only mentions that the shoe being vegan makes it more sustainable, with no mention of animals being the raw material for leather shoes. But looking at it from a different perspective, many people might be put off by explicitly talking about animal cruelty and I would completely agree that sustainability should include the dimension of considering animals morally, i.e. how animals (both domesticated and wild ones) are treate by humans and that intentionally killling or harming them cannot be morally acceptable and therefore cannot be considered sustainable.



Update 5 March 2022:
There are two new colourways of the "Cariuma Vallely" all of which are vegan too and are also available in women's sizes (narrower shoes). See below:

Cariuma "The Vallely" camel / ivory 


Cariuma "The Vallely" blue & off-white/red


Same insoles as above








References:

1) Rolling Stone: Black Flag Frontman and Pro Skater Mike Vallely Launches Vegan Skate Shoe Line With Cariuma, by Carrie Bell, 1 December 2021 https://www.rollingstone.com/product-recommendations/lifestyle/black-flag-mike-vallely-cariuma-skate-shoes-1260776/ ( checked 30 January 2022)
2) Forbes: Skateboarding Legend Mike Vallely And Cariuma Drop First Completely Vegan Pro Skate Shoe, by Michelle Bruton, 15 November 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellebruton/2021/11/15/skateboarding-legend-mike-vallely-and-cariuma-drop-first-completely-vegan-pro-skate-shoe (checked 30 January 2022)