Cariuma and the vegan shoes

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."

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:
100% VEGAN

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