Chaco makes adventure-ready and water-friendly footwear. Founded in 1989 by a whitewater rafting guide and now based in Michigan—where they make custom sandal orders daily—the gecko-emblazoned brand celebrates creativity and self-expression through a life lived outdoors. Cabin-Time is a roaming creative residency to remote places. Founded in 2012 by artists, friends, and fellow Michiganders Geoff Holstad and Ryan Greaves, the off-grid nonprofit offers creatives of all types the opportunity to camp, eat, and work outside with a dozen other artful strangers in a collaboration-encouraging environment to pursue a new perspective within their own creative efforts. Why are we telling you this? Because the two recently partnered, and the result is well worth sharing.
While the past year has seen Chaco collaborate with United by Blue, Howler Bros, the National Parks Service and more, this partnership feels different, in the best of ways. There’s no logo swapping or color scheme scheming here—it’s all about supporting art, and promoting creativity across the board. And about making the most of Chaco’s made in USA custom sandal program.
“We’ve hosted close to a hundred artists from around the world, published eight books, and done eight films,” explains Holstad, who’s day job is a senior designer at Patagonia. And until Cabin-Time descended upon the high deserts of the Eastern Sierra this past spring for their eighth iteration, every bit of it has been paid for out of pocket. Now, as a certified 501c3 nonprofit, Cabin-Time was able to partner with Chaco to help make the venture more sustainable, and offer travel stipends to all artists for the first time.
Another great perk to the partnership is one we’re particularly excited about—each artist was given the opportunity to design their own custom made in the USA sandals. The 14 artists of CT8 (including six crew members, who participate not as camp counselors but as artists too) come from eclectic backgrounds with preferred mediums ranging from oil paint, colored pencil, 35mm film, food, fabric, conversation, and community gatherings to sculpture, collage, wood, and sound, among others. All of which informed their sandal designs.
For a few, the terrain was directly referenced, while others the inspiration was more loose, more ephemeral, more celestial even. Either way, from the color of thread to strap color and design and even the type of outsole tread, the custom program allowed the artists to unleash their creativity and make something entirely unseen before. And the best part is, the resulting designs are now up on Chacos.com/cabintime, along with artist bios, behind the scenes photography, and more information on Cabin-Time itself.
Outside of the sandals, the site-specific work created over the nine day residency will be shown at a group art exhibition at Sierra Nevada College, running 5 October through 17 November, as well as featured in a book printed in Michigan by arts publisher Issue Press.
“We’re at a really peaceful point,” said Holstad, reflecting on the partnership and ahead of the group show. “It’s just our passions keeping us moving now.”