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December 8, 2009

Simple CARport Shoe Review

One of the nicest coincidences of my recent barefoot shoe series was discovering just how closely natural footwear companies and eco-friendliness go hand in hand (or, um … foot in shoe. Something like that.)

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me; as a general rule, most barefoot practitioners - either runners, or just everyday shoephobes - tend to have a dominant “love your Mother Earth” gene, which is manifest in environmental protection and social responsibility. It’s not much of a stretch to think that corporations founded by like-minded souls would translate those philosophies to product manufacturing.

Unfortunately, the shoe business is treacherous territory for companies attempting sustainable production methods or striving to minimize their global impact; chemicals, adhesives, plastics, animal products and excess waste are all part of the game. If a company can somehow navigate those stormy waters and still manage to make products that actually look great and perform well, they deserve to be recognized.

That’s why I’m glad I got to know the Simple Shoe company a lot better over the past several months. They’re not perfect, but they’re striving to do all the right things, with a stated goal of having 100% sustainable production. Or as they describe themselves on their website, Simple is a nice little shoe company getting in touch with its inner hippie.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the GUMshoe, a lightweight loafer/sandal made from hemp and recycled carpet padding, among other things. This week features the CARport, a casual sneaker with similar eco-friendly credentials.


The upper of the CARport is made with breathable suede from certified eco-friendly tanneries (those with an ISO 14001 certification, if you’re really interested), as well as certified organic cotton flannel linings and laces. All of the cotton used in Simple footwear is cultivated and harvested without the use of pesticides or other toxic chemicals – it also makes for a very comfortable sock-like feel on the inside of the shoe.


More recycled products are used underneath; the “pedbed” midsole is made from post-consumer polyurethane as well as recycled car tire rubber. The entire outsole is also made from recycled tires; Simple estimates that a single used car tire provides outsoles for six pairs of shoes. Given the monumental piles of tires all over the world, the company will never have to manufacture outsoles from any other material.

Aside from stylistic differences, there’s one element of the CARport that I really like compared to the other Simple shoes I tested. When I reviewed the GUMshoe, I complained that the arch support was sewn into the insole, and the insoles were not removable – so in fairness, I’m happy to say that the CARport insoles are completely removable. However, since the midsole is thicker, you don’t have the same ground feel as the lightweight GUMshoe; it’s like you’re on a flat platform that’s elevated an inch or so off the ground. If the company could someday combine these two elements – a removable insole with a minimalist midsole – I’d be in Simple heaven.

The other thing I like about these shoes is that they’re just plain nice-looking. The styling is versatile enough for office or casual wear, and the suede colors (black olive or coffee liqueur) complement a wide variety of wardrobe options. They’re also comfortable enough that you can wear them all day long, so going from work to a relaxed evening out doesn’t automatically require a change of shoes.

The Simple Carport retails for $70 from Endless.com (with free overnight shipping) as well as on the company website. It’s an easy way to look respectable while still indulging your inner hippie.


*Product provided by Simple Shoes
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at
info@runningandrambling.com.

1 comments:

electro 12/9/09, 11:22 AM  
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