Keep you heels high, but standards higher! UrbanMeisters, we are super excited to add to your green fashion repository uber-cool, absolutely chic sustainable sneakers. What’s equally exciting is that this brand was our founder Mirela Orlovic’s green fashion find that made her switch from high heels to sneakers (well from time to time :). So she will tell you all about it in her own words! Here’s Mirela & VEJA for you…
I almost decided sneaker fashion wasn’t for me…
Hello UrbanMeisters! If you have been following the story of how UrbanMeisters came into being & following me on social media, you will know one thing about me – I’m an out-and-out fashion lover! While being well put-together is more like a protocol of living in a megacity (and Paris at that!), I love going beyond all that’s in vogue & putting together looks & changing up my style frequently. And ever since UrbanMeisters kicked off, it kickstarted me on my own challenge to try and be greener everyday in every aspect. Because the pollution we all complain about is after-all our own doing.
One of the first things I started greening up was my wardrobe (not by shopping more of course!). From discovering more sustainable brands, to buying a lot less, I finally figured how to speak green-chic fluently. But I’ve constantly met with challenges to stay on-trend & yet green. So when sneakers’ started trending, and being a stilettos-only girl, my fashionista card was in grave danger of being confiscated by the fashion police. (Secretly I was also dying to step-foot into the sneaker trend to give my stiletto-fried feet some ultimate comfort!) But I couldn’t find a brand that was right for my fashionable sensibilities & yet green. While Adidas Stan Smiths became omnipresent & they wasn’t a sustainable story there. Adidas has created a line of shoes made from marine plastic debris but they were too extreme street-style for me to pair with dresses. And a few that were sustainable were too sporty for me. But finally this eco-fashion need of the hour lead me to VEJA that I discovered at the Premiere Classe fair trade show during Paris Fashion Week.
With sustainability & great design aesthetics, I was immediately hooked & got myself a pair! So this is no paid post! Just as with all products that we feature on UrbanMeisters, VEJA fit right with our top 3 mandatory requirements:
1) VEJA is a one of kind eco-friendly footwear brand known for it’s ethical shoe production.
2) It is a green product that fits right into our urban lifestyle.
3) It is cool & stylish.
It was first the super cool design that attracted me & then I discovered that they could be the perfect marriage of green & cool that I was searching for. So I started digging into detail and met the team in the Paris HQ. I found, what I would call one of the cool pioneer labels in sustainable fashion & style (and a super cool, transparent and helpful team). Friends my search has ended. Allow me to end yours as I tell you about VEJA and how it is turning the hectic-urban-strides of people everywhere green!
Mirela is wearing VEJA sneakers Esplar model with Tilapia fish skin & Jeans jacket & dress from her other favorite sustainable brand Reformation!
The cool duo that started the Veja project
Best friends Sébastien Kopp & François-Ghislain Morillion were working on a social audit for a clothing company in China. What they saw there made them realize that globalization was happening at a sustainable and social cost. From water to air pollution, the ecological consequences of garment and footwear production in countries with poor working conditions where worker’s rights are lax, left them horrified. Shortly after that they met with Tristan Lecomte, the French pioneer in the field of ‘fair-trade’ – any process of trade in which fair prices are paid to producers. Fair-trade made them strongly believe that they could reinvent a product to suit ethical and sustainable standards.
To them “Changing the world » had already become an overused buzzword just being thrown around by corporations. So instead of constantly trying to change the world and the people in it, they stuck to finding what makes people happy. They found that trying to be even more transparent, keeping the eco projects consistent and suggesting eco solutions that could easily be adopted by others, could lead to consumer and creator satisfaction. Enter the dragon – VEJA! The core value with which VEJA moves forward: instead of preaching to others, we start by changing ourselves.
Using innovative eco-friendly materials in their sneaker designs, VEJA is a pioneer in eco & ethical production for sustainable fashion & positive chain. Based in France, VEJA buys organic and eco-friendly materials from fair trade family farms in Brazil and the amazon, respecting fair trade standards. Besides working with cooperatives of small producers and social associations in Brazil and France, the brand also partners with a social charity that helps the disadvantaged reintegrate into society through work.
Super Stylish! Check! Super Practical? Check! Super Sustainable? Check!
VEJA is definitely the front-runner for sustainable footwear brands. I list the 5 key reasons I recommend this brand:
1. Sustainable all the way
Going beyond sustainable raw materials, eco innovations & responsible sourcing, VEJA is committed to creating a positive chain. Their key priority is CO2 reduction. They use sustainable methods of transportation, organization, production, conditioning and consumption in order to conserve energy and reduce emissions. All VEJA trainers are transported by boat from Porto Alegre, Brazil to Le Havre in France. VEJA’s packaging is made of recycled and recyclable cardboard. The size of the shoe-box was reduced in 2002 to optimize efficiency. VEJA uses ENERCOOP (a cooperative of green electricity), in its Headquarters instead of EDF (the French national nuclear energy supplier). VEJA is completely transparent in all its manufacturing publishing details of all the materials, processes, factories, source & quantities on their site. Not just that. They acknowledge some of the green-limitations too which they are working on to improve!
2. Green material innovation
The covetable shoes are made from A grade sustainable materials like B-Mesh and J-Mesh. The brand also caters to sports and luxury with its line of sneakers made from high-end, unique and sustainable materials.
- B-mesh stands for Bottle-Mesh which is made out of 100% recycled polyester (polyethylene terephthalate or P.E.T.) B-mesh is a smart fabric, light, breathable and waterproof.
- The J-mesh is VEJA’s reinterpretation of the jute canvas, a traditional fiber produced in the Amazon region combined with recycled cotton. More than being a resistant fabric, the jute has anti-static and temperature-regulating qualities for optimal breathability.
- VEJA’s sneaker portfolio also includes athletic models with its LRT (Liquid Rubber Technology) line that uses a technique which enhances rubber’s purity without oxidation making it reach greater elasticity. LRT is both a technological and social innovation : it adds values in the supply chain; generating more income for the rubber producers, reducing the financial appeal of deforestation and improving the quality and comfort of VEJA trainers.
- For the crowd of fashionistas VEJA has a line of unique plush yet sustainable sneakers made of Fish Skin Leather, Tilapia. The Tilapia used by VEJA is tanned only with vegetable extracts. Nine Tilapia skins are necessary to make a pair of sneakers making the assemblage unique each time.
VEJA sneakers with Tilapia fish skin
- For the silk sneakers the material has been produced in a high-end factory in Southern Brazil in a sustainable way. Silk is a highly renewable resource with less impact on the environment that many other fabrics.
3. VEJA’s Ethical Values
The VEJA project is founded on a positive chain from the producers to the consumers. The VEJA trainers are made in factories located in the state of Rio Grande Do Sul, a well-developed region in South Brazil. Workers’ rights, minimum wage, holidays are respected and extra hours are paid. The brand also regularly conducts social audits as part of the FAIRTRADE certification process. A special project adopted by veja is ATELIER SANS FRONTIÈRES facilitating people facing social exclusion to find work.
VEJA organic cotton sneakers
4. They are certified
VEJA believes, certifications are not the ultimate goal. They are minimum standards and are preliminary stages towards social and environmental objectives. The association of cotton producers they work with, received the compliance certificate for the FLO / FAIRTRADE standards. 97% of the cotton producers VEJA engages with are now certified. The VEJA cotton chain complies with the organic standards but is globally involved into a more ambitious scheme: agro-ecology.
5. No advertising!
VEJA is a premium sneaker brand with shoes priced between 99,00€ to 475,00€. For VEJA while the production costs are 3 to 4 times higher than other footwear brands, its “no advertising” policy makes it possible to sell trainers at a price which is equal to competitors. Veja does not advertise and tightly controls it’s production so there so extra stocks produced. The resources saved are integrated into the production chain.
VEJA For Everyone
The design of every VEJA shoe begins with a careful consideration of the environmental and the social consequences of manufacturing. But since most people buy shoes because they look cool, integrating cool design component with sustainability is VEJA’s forte. With its minimalist designs, sustainable creation and uber chic style VEJA is one unisex footwear brand that is eco-friendly to the core but looks and feels like high end fashion. And their cool sneakers are also available for kids! With it’s popularity spreading far and wide VEJA also launched a cool collaboration with Modetrotter and came up with a line of sassy, feminine subversive and ironic sneakers made by women for women.
From Colette & Le Bon Marche in France, LNCC & Selfridges in the UK, WP Stores in Italy, Club Monaco, Kith, Five Story & Reformation in USA, Adam & Rope, Dover Street Market in Japan Veja’s list of stockists includes the best retailing stores in the world. Well if VEJA believes transparency is the future then we support them and this word we shall spread!
You can sit with us!
UrbanMeister I am not the only one in awe of the amazing VEJA shoes! There is in fact a legion of celebrities who list VEJA as one of their favourite brands. Join the club with Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne, Melanie Laurent, Marion Cotillard and of course me! Follow VEJA on facebook, twitter or instagram or get shopping already on their site!
Source: Eddie Redmayne in VEJA sneakers
If you were impressed by VEJA green strides stayed tuned for an exclusive interview with the founders coming soon!! VEJA is great options for athletic sneakers. For more on why even your sneakers need to be sustainable and more options for workout-purpose green sneakers, read our feature here.