Brand portrait: Veja - Fair-a-Porter

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Veja V10 © Fair-a-porter

Brand portrait: Veja

The coolest ethical sneaker brand that you should know

Meet Veja, the ethically and ecologically grounded sneaker that will make you rethink your idea of shoes. I love trainers and shoes in general. When I was a child I had a thing for sneakers – especially the pink ones (I guess I was not the only one). Growing up I switched to high heels and decided to get rid of all my beloved and comfortable trainers. Now, since a few years, I got back into sneakers and I have to admit that finding the right pair – not too flashy and ethically produced – is not that easy. There is one brand though that got my attention: Veja. The french brand, with a cool and up-to-date design is known for its remarkable environmentally-conscious production. They produce all their shoes in Brazil, where they collaborate with small producers and social associations. Their main sustainable features are organic cotton, wild rubber from the Amazon and vegetable-tanned leather.

© Instagram/veja

© Instagram/veja

© Instagram/veja

They source their cotton from the North East of Brazil, where a group of small producers grow cotton and food plants under agro-ecology principals which ban agro-chemicals and pesticides. For those small-scale farmers (1 hectare of land on average), farming development goes hand-in-hand with environmental protection. Veja buys cotton from 320 families who live from organic farming. Respecting fair trade rules. This cotton is spun then weaved into canvas for Veja sneakers and accessories. 

The FDL process to transform latex into rubber sheets, without any industrial intermediary processes © Instagram/veja

The Amazon is the only place on earth where rubber trees grow in the wild. Veja work with Amopreab, an association of Seringeiros – the rubber tappers. They also work with two new associations: “Parque da Cigana” & ” Seringal Curralinho”. Today, 60 families of Seringeiros are part of the project. The Amazonian rubber tappers live in the forest and harvest from the trees. The rubber is then used in the soles of Veja trainers. They use a new technology called FDL (Folha Desfumada Liquida – Liquid Smoked Sheet), which allows the rubber tappers to transform latex into rubber sheets, without any industrial intermediary processes. The sheets of rubber are then directly sent to the factory and shaped into soles. This technology allows the Seringueiros to sell semi-finished products and receive a higher income. 

Leather is not made under fair trade principals. In essence, it cannot be. Indeed, cattle breeding needs extended fields and the relevant financial inputs. It is difficult to work directly with leather producers and it is quite impossible to be sure of the leather’s origin or the way cattle have been treated. However Veja is aware of the fact that the cattle do not come from the Amazon where cattle breeding is a main factor in deforestation. Their ultimate objective is to be knowledgeable and in control of our whole leather supplier chain, from the cows nurturing and living conditions to the tanning and dying process of the leather.

Not only the sourcing and production of Veja are founded on ethical footing. Also the packaging, distribution and the energy the company’s French headquarters use ENERCOOP ( a cooperative of green electricity), rather than EDF, the French nuclear supplier. Their production approach goes even further. In fact, Veja refuses to build up stock so they only produce on orders dated for the next six months, ensuring stock doesn’t accumulate and materials aren’t wasted. They also refuse to use advertizing, but this has actually won them plaudits as well as high-profile ambassadors in the process, such as French actors Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg, as well as celebrities like David Beckham and Emma Watson

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