Not made in China as you can imagine...
Founded in 2004 by Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion with only $5.000 from their savings, Veja is a brand of sneakers and accessories mainly produced in the South of Brazil under fair-trade conditions. The progressive label Veja only uses eco-friendly materials. Vegetable-tanned leather, wild rubber from small cooperatives of tappers in the Amazon, recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton produced in the North of Brazil, for which they pay the double of the local price. The finished products are transported by sea to the French port Le Havre and then to Paris. The French “International Labour Organization” manages the whole logistics. The organisation trains and gives jobs to unemployed people, many of them who have come out of jail and are struggling to find work opportunities.
No wonder Veja has already won two awards in the UK: “The Guardian Sustainable Business Award” and “The Observer Ethical Award”.
Co-founder and Creative Director Sébastien Kopp said: “the business of the future would be to care about the planet and the people”. This is why they wanted to integrate into the business not only the environment but also the welfare and the happiness of the workers too.
The sneakers brand is so transparent that you can even see the factories workers’ wages on their website. By the way, “Veja” is Portuguese for “look”. Sebastien Kopp explains that they chose this name because they want people to “look around, look at how products are made because it matters".
Besides being incredibly eco-friendly and fair-trade, the French sneakers are extraordinarily stylish but never flashy, in the purest French understated elegance. Eco-conscious fashionistas such as Emma Watson, Lucy Williams, Camille Charriere and Dutch Anouk Yve are crazy about them! We can see the chic sneakers with the recognisable “V” on each side worn by fashion bloggers with cute floral dresses, stylish suits and shorts.
The sneakers that Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion design do not follow the fashion trends so you can keep wearing them longer. They say they love minimalistic design and vintage military shoes. They found inspiration for their first collection in the Brazilian volleyball team from the ’70s, which was a huge success.
Only a year after the brand’s launch in Paris, designer Agnés b started a collaboration with Veja, and so did Christine Phung in 2007. In 2012 it was the turn of Brazilian designer Regina Dabdab to collaborate on a line of accessories.
The footwear brand also makes several collabs with stores and labels such as the childrenswear Bonpoint, French Trotters and the concept store Merci. The sneakers are sold in more than 150 stores worldwide, including the luxurious Le Bon Marché and Galeries Lafayette in Paris, and Barney’s in the U.S.
And there’s no stopping the French duo. Kopp and Morillion are developing new, lighter and more breathable materials made from recycled plastic bottles combined with recycled cotton for Southeast Asia and Singapore.
The success of Veja sneakers has started a revolution in the fashion world. The chic eco-friendly label is an excellent example for other brands, showing that it is possible, and profitable, to have a responsible and eco-sustainable production.
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