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The Pantone Color of the Year 2020 Shoe Is the Happiest L.A.-Based Sneaker

We’re always a little curious about Pantone’s color of the year: It’s not just about a pretty hue, it’s a flash thermometer read of the current cultural climate. (For example, 2019’s color, Living Coral, was a nod to global environmental concerns.) Yesterday’s announcement of Classic Blue as the 2020 color—also a response to the planetary mishegoss—is described by Pantone as “a tranquil hue that responds to worldwide unrest and a universal need for grounding and connection.”

That’s why a little Los Angeles– and Rio-based shoe company named Cariuma beat out major brands (last year’s Pantone shoe was by Puma) to get exclusive rights to produce a sneaker in Classic Blue. The company was started two years ago by a couple of footwear execs who were burned out by industry demands of ceaseless—and often careless—global production. They founded direct-to-consumer brand Cariuma to create super-lightweight shoes that are more sustainable than any others on the market. The signature shoe (and our fave) is the Ibi, a super-simple sneaker that’s got an upper made of sustainable bamboo and recycled water bottles, a memory foam and cork insole, and an outsole made of sugar cane (no, it doesn’t melt in the rain).

We appreciate the shoe brand’s reasonable price points (pairs start at $79), tightly edited designs (there are also canvas and leather versions, plus a high-top) and founding belief that everyone on the whole supply chain—from the workers who put the shoes together in Asia to the marketing and admin team in Los Angeles—can make a living wage and work decent hours with time off to spend with family and friends. Maybe it’s that vibe of relaxed dignity that’s made this the unofficial shoe of the Venice Skatepark, with dozens of kids shredding in these tough sneakers. We’re decidedly non-skaters, but we look forward to wearing our Cariuma Ibis the next time we’re going through airport security, because the soft knit upper doesn’t even need to be unlaced to take the shoe off—you can just stretch it and slide your foot out. That’s all the grounding we need.

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