By Audrey Stanton
VEJA, a France-based sneaker company, has been innovating footwear for 14 years. The brand has mastered the art of chic shoes and ethical production, resulting in products that even the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, wants to wear. Although Veja invests zero capital in advertising, they have been able to skyrocket to the top of the fashion charts through consistently high-quality materials, intentional collaboration with their supply chain, and an overall transparent approach to business.
The footwear brand goes to great lengths to source the best materials for their winning shoes.
They not only look for functional supplies but also ones which will make a larger impact beyond their business. Case and point: their wild rubber is purchased from Seringueiro communities (the indigenous peoples of the region) in the Amazon, preserving almost 300,000 acres (or 120,000 hectares) since 2004. Through this process, they hope to ‘enhance the economic value of the forest in order to protect it,’ according to their website. Their commitment to collaboration continues with their organic cotton sourcing, which they buy directly from farmers and cotton producers in South America. From fiber to finish, Veja is able to trace this material throughout the production process. By working closely with suppliers, the brand has the ability to ensure quality and provide sustainable employment for the communities they purchase from.
Veja prides themselves on presenting 20 100% vegan styles in their collection
They only utilize leather when there is a commitment to improving the way the often controversial material is created. By tracing their supply chain the company can guarantee their leather is not sourced from areas affected by deforestation and have partnered with a certified Gold tannery to secure a hazard-free production operation. Since 2013, the company has been implementing fish leather, made from Tilapia, into their designs, establishing a surprisingly luxurious and handcrafted medium. As the brand grows, they are looking at ways to continually innovate their manufacturing process.
Why choose vegan leather?
Every day more than 50 million liters (13 million gallons) of toxic wastewater pour out of local tanneries. Heavy chemicals used to treat leather, like chromium-6, flow into local farming and even drinking water, causing serious environmental and health hazards. Read more here…
Thousands of Indian cows are slaughtered each week for their skins. These are completely different cows than we eat. As many as half of these animals will already be dead by the time they arrive in the slaughterhouse, due to the torture that’s been caused to them. Read more here…
Veja’s approach to fashion comes from a passion for experimentation
Such as employing upcycled materials plastic bottles, corn, and jute. C.W.L is a bio-based material which is developed by an Italian company. The material is made from waxed canvas with 50% corn waste from the food industry. The new plant-based fiber is durable and biodegradable. In addition to this leather alternative, the brand has teamed up with manufacturers in San André, Brazil, to produce B-mesh (or bottle mesh), a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. Their final material combines two of their other supplies – organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles – to create a fabric called Hexamesh. The fabric has a softer feel than organic cotton canvas. While Veja sneakers are undeniably chic, they are made even more desirable by the transparent supply chain behind each pair.
Each element of a Veja sneaker is made in different countries and communities
Together they create brilliant ethical footwear. The canvas is made from organic cotton in Tauchà, Brazil, and Chincha, Peru. The soles are made from wild Amazonian rubber in Acre, Brazil. Each product is crafted in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and their last stop is Bonneuil-sur-Marne where Veja is headquartered. At their home base, just southeast of Paris, the brand partners with the organization Ateliers Sans Frontières to employ vulnerable individuals looking to reintegrate into the workforce, as well as society. Over 200 French citizens have found lasting work and regained their footing after being employed by Veja, through ASF.
By forgoing advertisement, Veja is contributing to communities around the world. They are sourcing innovative materials, and proving that transparency is the future of fashion.