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It takes a lot to sell me on a sneaker. I’m a city person, so a sneaker needs to be sidewalk-friendly; I’m also a fashion person, so a sneaker needs to be…not hideous. It should be versatile enough to go with everything in my wardrobe, from rainy afternoon coffee runs to sunny morning commutes, and it should, above all else, be comfortable. Enter stage left: the Cariuma OCA Lows.
I had high hopes for this sneaker (they are, after all, Ashton Kutcher’s shoe of choice), and all of them were met (if not exceeded). I tested out the OCA Lows in Triple White Premium Leather—a shoe sleeker and chicer than, say, a more athletic style of sneaker, but more casual than a loafer. Perfect for the office or errands, easy to dress up or down, not leaning too heavily into streetwear nor formalwear. Over the past few weeks, I’ve worn these sneakers with everything: baggy jeans, pleated work pants, even skirts and dresses. Though the style is completely unisex, Cariuma differentiates between men’s and women’s so that you can get the perfect size that hugs your foot in just the right way. They have, effectively, replaced all other options as my new daily shoe. I wasn’t a sneaker person before, but I sure am one now—as long as these are the sneakers in question.
Comfort and style aside (I’m getting to that, though), these sneakers first caught my eye because of the brand’s ethos. Cariumas are about as sustainable as a shoe can get; the Brazilian-based brand manages to craft shoes that are of high quality and low environmental impact, with two trees being planted for every one pair of shoes purchased.
The OCA Lows are a timeless sneaker, too; unlike chunkier silhouettes, these aren’t going to go out of style…ever, which means I can wear them, and rewear them, and rewear them, and not have to worry about throwing them out and replacing them with a newer look when the next season of fashion approaches. The style has a 100 percent vegan insole, made from mamona oil and cork; the rubber of the shoe is sustainably sourced from Brazilian trees. Even the packaging is recycled, and the shipping is carbon neutral. Plus, despite sustainable usually meaning more expensive, these are under $150 (and the suede and canvas versions are under $100).
They get me where I need to go
Everybody talks about how comfortable Cariuma shoes are, and they aren’t lying. I can’t stress enough how happy my feet have been since getting the OCA Lows. Seriously—as someone based in New York City, I walk miles a day, and I need a shoe that’s going to allow me to do that. I wouldn’t say these allow me to walk for miles and miles in comfort; I’d say they encourage me to.
These are easily the most lightweight shoes I’ve ever worn, with a cork insole that feels like it molds to my feet. It’s like walking on air. It’s like not wearing shoes at all. I’m used to wearing heavier, weightier shoes, and in comparison, these are a dream of airy soles that retain a sturdy, durable construction. At the point in my long days full of errands and running around where I would have once felt my feet begin to tire and cramp, it feels like I just put the Cariumas on, when I’m wearing them, and have miles and miles left in me.
There’s a style for everyone
The first place I wore the OCA Low sneakers was to a fashion show, and they weren’t even out of place. I wouldn’t even consider wearing sneakers to a stylish event like that, usually, but with my fitted blazer and jeans, the all-white, premium leather shoes were simply the best option to go with my outfit. The next time I wore them, I was going to the grocery store. It was laundry day. I was, shamefully, wearing sweatpants. And they were just as seamless a look in that environment, too.
This shoe is a classic, timeless style that truly works with everything. And if you don’t want an all-white sneaker, no problem—the OCA Lows come in five neutral leather colors, but if you want to opt for the same style in suede or canvas, there are even more options to choose from. You’ll be able to pair them with your wardrobe whether you’re glam or grunge, whether you’re going to a first date or a wedding. You’ll wear these to wherever you need to be, and then some.
Photography by Philip Friedman. Prop styling by John Olson for Halley Resources.
Trishna Rikhy is the Associate Style Commerce Editor at Esquire. Previously, her writing has appeared in Vogue Runway, PAPER Magazine, V Magazine, V MAN, and more. She is based in NYC, but can probably be found wherever the strongest cup of coffee is.