If you catch me on any given day, chances are I’m wearing sneakers. Sometimes I’ll throw a pair of classic boat shoes into the mix, but for the most part, it’s sneakers. If my feet aren’t flat on the ground, I find most shoes to be painful after a while. To put my love of comfortable footwear into perspective: The only reason I wore heels on my wedding day was to please my mom, and I changed into platform sneakers immediately following our ceremony.
My tried-and-true favorite has always been the Superga Cotu. But because I love a good pair of lace-ups so much I’m always willing to try others. I’ve bought a handful of styles from other brands that range from Keds (too narrow) to Converse (zero support) to Allbirds (way too warm), and I’ve struggled to find ones that are as comfortable or reliable as my trusty Cotus. Well, that is, until I tried Cariuma.
The brand of sustainable sneakers (psst, if you buy one pair, they plant two trees in the Brazilian rainforest) has officially claimed multiple spots in my sneaker collection. I love them because they require absolutely zero break-in period, unlike most others, and they have both low and high top styles in various materials, so there’s something for every sneaker mood. Ahead, I’m breaking down the specifics of my favorite styles to show you exactly what I mean. And if you want to try a pair for yourself, use code PUREWOW15 to receive 15 percent off!
Best for Everyday: OCA Canvas
Everyone needs to have at least one pair of reliable canvas sneakers in their wardrobe. But I’m proposing two. The OCA Low pair are shoes that I’d wear every single day with my uniform of jeans and a striped tee, because they’re extremely versatile, stylish and great for anything. Even though they’re red, they end up being the perfect pop of color to make a casual, neutral look a little more fun (and they’re a great replacement for my red Supergas that have very worn down soles). Then, there are the OCA Highs, which are identical aside from the ankle height they hit. I like to wear this pair in white anytime I’m looking for the same comfy feel but with a bit of a trendy edge—like with tiered swing dress.
Both easy-to-wear silhouettes are 100 percent vegan and have insoles made from organic mamona oil and cork. And as opposed to a lot of other sneaker brands, these have added arch support and memory foam for extra comfort. Since they’re canvas, you might want to watch out for dirt stains, but I’m personally a fan of sneakers that look lived-in, so no need to be too careful!
Runs true to size.
Best for Cooler Temps: OCA Stripe Suede
The rich texture of suede always reminds me of fall and winter, so I’ll be reserving these guys for when the temperature starts to drop. The OCA Stripe Suede sneaker has the same classic Cariuma shape as the canvas, including the weighted rubber sole and cap-toe, but the suede upper makes it a touch more dressy. The signature insole combines memory foam and natural vegetable tanned leather for ideal comfort. Because of the suede I would suggest using a waterproof spray so they don’t get ruined in bad weather, but rest assured that the sole is 100 percent slip resistant. You can bet I’ll be wearing these with cropped jeans and a chunky sweater when I visit the pumpkin patches (hello, basic), and I already can’t wait.
Runs true to size.
Best for Looking “Put Together”: OCA Low Premium Leather
Oddly enough, this is my first-ever pair of leather sneakers. I think I tried to avoid the material previously because it usually reminds me of that one Adidas pair everyone wears, which I happen to dislike the look of. However, these OCA Premium Leather sneakers are *chef’s kiss*. The pebbled leather is buttery soft, and they have the same signature insole as mentioned above. The leather kicks this sneaker up a notch style-wise, which makes them perfect for those days when you still want a flat shoe, but you need some extra oomph. For example, I just wore these to an outdoor bridal shower with cropped tailored pants and a flowy blouse, and it made me feel a little more #trendy. They also remind me of something a fashion influencer might wear, which is great for me considering I don’t pride myself on being on top of all the latest street styles.
Best for Warm Weather: IBI Knit
My body runs pretty warm, and one of the first places I start to feel hot is in my feet. The IBI Knit sneakers solve that problem thanks to their featherweight construction and the fact that they don’t require socks (praise be). And for anyone looking for a truly eco-friendly shoe, your search stops here. They’re made from self-regenerating bamboo with a sugarcane outsole and vegan insole, plus the lining, laces, threads and logo labels are all made from recycled plastic bottles. Oh, and did we mention they are also machine washable? I recently wore these to a backyard barbecue with a pair of denim shorts and an airy linen top, and I got so many compliments. It should be worth noting we are in the midst of a hot, sticky heatwave here in New York, and I’m pleased to report that my feet didn’t feel like they were melting.
Runs true to size.