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ONE FOOT FORWARD WITH VEJA
Other than the fact these trainers look cool with everything, as proven by the street-style-set, VEJA are sustainable right down to their soles. Find out how they have one foot in design and the other in social responsibility…
At the base of every good outfit is a great pair of shoes. Arguably the most iconic style since the 1990s is, of course, the trainer. It is for this reason they were chosen by founders François-Ghislain Morillion and Sébastien Kopp as the basis for their fair-trade fashion model. Their VEJA journey began while doing social audits for a french fashion brand in a Asian factory where they experienced first-hand inhumane conditions. There and then they vowed to set up their own company and show how you can produce without exploitation. To date, they have sold 3.5 million pairs, are B Corp certified and widely acknowledged to be the benchmark in sustainable sneakers.
We decided to make sneakers, because this product is a symbol for our generation and our era. It's also a product that crystallizes the major issues of globalization through its production, dissemination, and usage.François-Ghislain Morillion, Co-founder VEJA.
Blending innovation with time-honoured techniques all the while supporting local communities to empower them means that VEJA’s cost five times more to produce than big brand trainers.
Each VEJA sneaker's soles come from wild Amazonian rubber gathered by locals experts called Syringeiros (rubber tappers) who have been harvesting rubber for generations without deforestation. VEJAs goal is to enhance the economic value of the forest in order to protect it from lumberjacks. They also work with Bia Saldanha, an activist and founder of the Brazilian Green Party.
Since 2004, VEJA has set the price of their organic cotton in advance with producer associations from Brazil and Peru respecting fair trade principles. Not only does this give the farmers greater financial security but generally it’s way above the market value, for example, this year they paid twice that. This price covers agro-ecological cotton production costs and allows the farmers to earn a decent income. But how does VEJA afford to pay so much more for the cotton? Simply they cut out the middleman and deal directly with producer associations. VEJA also work with NGOs that provide support to these cotton producers in the form of agricultural engineers offering eco-friendly alternatives to pesticides, one such solution is planting neem trees which have oil creates a natural repellent against insects that target cotton.
Designed to stand the test of time, each step in VEJAs is a lighter footprint on our planet.