It can be challenging to find eco-friendly sneakers, as many trainers are made from virgin plastics in harmful ways, including child or underpaid work in countries as China and India. So we’re more than happy to have a brand like Veja with cool design and fair-trade policy.
Founded in 2004 by Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion with only $5.000 from their savings, Veja sneakers and accessories are mainly produced in the South of Brazil.
Eco-friendly and human-friendly
As eco-friendly sneakers, Veja only uses materials like vegetable-tanned leather or wild rubber from small cooperatives of tappers in the Amazon. Veja sneakers are also made with recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton produced in the North of Brazil. For these components, Veja pays the double of the local price.
“the business of the future would be to care about the planet and the people”
After produced, the finished pieces are transported by sea to the French port Le Havre and then to Paris. The French “International Labour Organization” manages the whole logistics. The sustainable mentality is also present in the European part of the producing process. In France, Veja 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 integrate into the business not only the environment but the welfare and the happiness of the workers too.
The French-Brazilian brand is so transparent that you can even see the factories workers’ wages on their website. That explains the name “Veja” that means “look” in Portuguese.
“look around, look at how products are made because it matters”, Sebastien Kopp says.
Besides being a perfect example of a sustainable company, Veja sneakers are really stylish. In the purest French understated elegance, they are eye-catchy but never flashy. 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 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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