Cariuma shoes and a skateboard

What do we think of Cariuma?

Cariuma has been selling shoes since only 2018 but in the last 5 years, they’ve made serious moves in the skate shoe market. The Brazil-based brand has significant financial backing and can be seen on the feet of some very popular skaters. They pride themselves on being a sustainable company that plants trees with every purchase and pride themselves on selling vegan footwear.

But the company’s growth in revenue and increased visibility has come to the dismay of a lot of skateboarders who disapprove of their lack of heritage, marketing tactics and team selection. 

Firstly let’s take a look at their sustainability claims. Greenwashing is pretty widespread these days and a little digging can often pull apart companies’ spurious claims. But with Cariuma that’s not the case. They’re a B-corp registered company which means that their social and environmental impact has been independently verified by B-Lab, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the global economy. I was sceptical of B-Lab but it looks pretty legit and I can’t find anything claiming otherwise. 

A clear example of their commitment to sustainability is their tree-planting policy. Google ‘plant a tree’ and you’ll find loads of companies offering to plant trees on your behalf for a small fee. This isn’t what Cariuma do. On their website, you can see that the whole process has been taken into consideration. They plant specific species in several locations with the involvement of native peoples while building infrastructure that involves the local community. Again, I was sceptical of this and I think it checks out. 

After a bit of digging (on the Slap Magazine forum) I found someone was told via the chat on the Cariuma website that the shoes were actually being made in China and they were opening factories in Brazil soon. After being pressed on why this information wasn’t on their website they said they’d update it. A bit dodgy but they’re certainly not the only brand to have stuff made in China. 

So what have people got against Cariuma?

One of the main reasons people dislike Cariuma is their marketing strategy. It’s commonplace for skateboarding companies to get their shoes in front of customers by putting out skate videos.  

Skating street has been an integral part of skateboarding since its rise in popularity in the early 90s and making video parts goes back further than that. Some might argue that this is what modern-day skateboarding is founded on.

Cariuma was founded in 2018, two years (eventually three) before the first Olympics that was set to feature skateboarding. They built a team of skateboarders that have big Instagram followings and gained their popularity through skateboarding in competitions. They sent pairs of trainers out to Youtubers for them to do reviews which were all overwhelmingly positive – which has also raised eyebrows. 

One of the other big bones of contention is the marketing done by Cariuma via The Berrics, a private indoor skatepark set up by Steve Berra and Eric Koston which produces social media content. They also host Battle at the Berrics, a game of skate tournament which is filmed and posted on their YouTube channel. 

The walls of The Berrics skatepark, which feature heavily in their videos, are painted with Cariuma advertising and the rails have been painted in Cariuma’s bright green colour. This kind of advertising is commonplace, but when it’s done by a company that is happy to dress skaters up as minions for a month to promote the upcoming film by the franchise, you can see why it might grate on people. 

A video by Dumb Data also suggests there’s reason to believe that BATB has been planned in a way that maximises the chances of a Cariuma-wearing skateboarder making it to the finals. Obviously, there’s no smoking gun here but I wouldn’t put it past them.

What do I think of Cariuma?

It’s tricky to find the fine balance between not succumbing to the marketing tactics of big corporate brands, choosing things you like or think are cool, remaining true to skateboarding and not being pretentious! 

I’m not sure what I think because there are plenty of big corporate companies that have managed to gain a foothold in the market (think Nike and New Balance), much to the disappointment of a lot of skater and core skate companies. But did they manage to do it by supporting skateboarding at grassroots level and filming proper skate videos without resorting to cheap marketing tactics? I think that’s probably up for debate. 

So I’ll let you make your mind up. What do you reckon?

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