Catiba Pro Skate Shoes | $89 | Cariuma
You’ve gotta feel for a brand looking to make a grand entrance into the sneaker scene. The culture has been so largely dominated by the same handful of brands over the last 50-odd years that it often feels like there’s no room for the new kid on the block. I can’t lie; I’m part of the problem. I’m super skeptical of new brands in the sneaker space. Long-term success stories are so rare, after all, and even a brand that manages to make an impact in the short term might not last (I’ve been here long enough to remember when Supra seemed like the next big thing).
So when Cariuma, a new brand in the skate shoe scene, reached out with an offer to see what their Catiba Pro Skate line is all about, I was skeptical. At first glance, the shoes they provide don’t seem to give you anything you can’t get from a pair of Vans or Converses at half the price. But I figured hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Before I knew it a pair of their Cabita Pros were in my mailbox, and soon after that I realized their appeal goes far beyond aesthetics or comfort (though they have both in spades).
Wearing Cabita Pros had me thinking back on the years I spent in classic low-cut canvas skate sneakers. Zero disrespect to one of the most reliable brands in the scene (hence my not mentioning their name) but let’s just say those shoes definitely feel like they cost about $60 when you put them on. There’s not much arch support, there’s very little padding between the sole and the sock liner … all in all it gets the job done but skews on the minimalist side, sometimes for the worse. The titular Catiba takes the best of that minimalism while injecting it with new-age features and tech that make it far more comfortable as a lifestyle sneaker and more effective as a skating one.
Let’s get right down to the main draw: Cariuma is a super eco-conscious brand. The founders, who started it out of their native Brazil did so out of frustration with the fact that most of the aforementioned classic brands in the sneaker and skate scene didn’t seem to care all that much for implementing sustainable practices in their production. The brand drew from the classics of skate sneaker design and modernized it with fresh tech and, more importantly, environmentally conscious textiles and production. Their factories are run ethically from top to bottom, their materials are sourced from responsible outlets, and they make a point to get involved with both community and international eco-friendly organizations. It’s also worth mentioning that for every pair of shoes sold, the brand plants a pair of trees as part of a reforestation effort in the Brazilian rainforests.
Then there’s the shoe itself, which feels classic and fresh all at once. As soon as you put on a pair you’ll feel the difference between them and their cheaper counterparts. The upper, comprised of sturdy canvas and lush suede, feels far more durable than those of other canvas shoe designers and the angle feels cushioned in a way that provides stability when you take them out on a run with your board.
The brand’s signature touch is an insole made of bio-based cork material. It provides subtle, dense cushioning and mild arch support (not so much that it’ll interfere with skating but enough to make walking a few miles in them far more comfortable). Plus, just from an aesthetic perspective, it’s a great subtle tweak on a classic look.
While I was excited to see an eco-friendly take on the sneakers I grew up wearing to school and skating in every day, what’s really made me a Cariuma fan is the elevation of the quality of materials. Everything in the Catiba Pro, from the laces to the upper to the insole, feels more deliberately crafted and constructed than your typical canvas skate shoe. As it turns out, ethically sourced materials make for higher quality ones as well.
There are far more miles on my feet than there were ten years ago when canvas skate shoes were my everyday go-to. For a few bucks more than I would have paid for a pair back then, Cariuma has created an upgraded model that leaves me not having to worry about the brand’s sustainability practices, comfort, or the longevity of the shoes themselves. It’s hard to make a good impression as a new brand in the sneaker scene but Cariuma’s getting the job done.
Disclaimer: Cariuma provided a sample pair of sneakers for this story