VEJA: Introducing Streetwear to Sustainability

The French sneaker brand, Veja, is fusing together two huge priorities in our society: ready-to-wear fashion and sustainability.

This seems like such an obvious partnership. We spend so much of our time studying, purchasing and rocking sneakers, why not be sure that the shoes on our feet are not harming the soil that we’re walking on? As the intense inevitability of climate change and global warming continues to grow, it’s important that each aspect of our lives coexist with the effort of environmental sustainability.

How are these shoes better for the environment?

The vile truths of the sneaker industry are no secret – everyone knows what the extremely impoverished endure to make our favorite pair of J’s, and pretty much everyone’s seen or heard about the huge factories, rife with pollutants, that produce these shoes.

With this in mind, it’s nearly impossible to envision a sneaker manufacturer without the pillars of smoke filling the sky or the overpopulated (and extremely underpaid) sweat shops that fill these factories.  Think again.

Veja’s key priority is in the triple bottom line – focus is never on corporate profits or even customer satisfaction, but instead on CO2 reduction.  The company has completely revolutionized every aspect of the sneaker business. From manufacturing to packaging to delivery, every single product point has been designed to reduce emissions and energy use.

Taken straight from the site:

All Veja trainers are transported by boat from Porto Alegre, Brazil to Le Havre in France. Upon arrival in Le Havre, the trainers travel in barges along the canals to the Parisian suburbs.

Each raw material that goes into making the shoe, from the cotton on the inside to the rubber and leather on the outside, follows high standards of sustainability to be sure no one (mother Earth nor the workers) is suffering from the development of the Veja brand.

Even better, Veja has partnered with Atelier San Frontiers to hire people “facing social exclusion” – citizens who would otherwise be unable to find work due to previous convictions or incidents.

Check out these videos to get an inside look on how each pair of Veja sneakers is made.

With this model in mind, you’d assume that the sneakers are super expensive and impossible to get – wrong! The Veja sneakers are pretty affordable, and most times cheaper than big brands.

How the hell are they so cheap?

Veja keeps their prices down by skimping on the advertising costs. That’s right. Veja doesn’t spend a dime on marketing and solely relies on word of mouth.  This frees up dollars that can be allocated to sustainable resources and manufacturing.  Sounds crazy, but something’s working! The brand has developed a loyal fan base all around the world and has grown from a small business with a handful of employees to a thriving globally-known brand with 50 corporate employees.

As the creators of the Veja brand explained to Complex, “the sneaker is the product of our generation. It went from a sport-only product to something that became really democratized in the ’90s.”  It’s about time someone brought sustainability and awareness of the environment to a space that has become an essential part of our culture.

Preserve our environment and shop up.

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