Since 2005, VEJA has been making sneakers differently, infusing each stage of production with a positive impact. Sneakers that treat humans with respect, are produced in dignified conditions, in direct consultation with producer associations and manufacturers. The idea behind a pair of VEJA: standing up with one foot in design and the other in social responsibility. For founders Sébastien Kopp and Ghislain Morillion, they decided to make sneakers, because this product is a symbol for their generation and their era. It's also a product that crystallizes the major issues of globalization through its production, dissemination, and usage.
SNEAKERS: VEJA uses organic & fairly traded cotton for the canvas of the shoes; wild & fairly traded rubber for the soles; and recycled plastic bottles to create a technological fabric. Each shoe is made in a high standard factory in Brazil all while mixing minimalist aesthetics & innovative technologies.
COTTON: The organic cotton used by VEJA is made by farmer associations in Brazil and Peru that harvest it with respect for people and the environment. Organic cotton is purchased by VEJA directly, respecting fair trade principles, before it is woven into the canvas and uppers used in many VEJA models. The cotton they buy in Ceará is 100% organic and grown by farmers who have adopted agro-ecological methods. Agroecology is based on a series of principles. It means not using chemicals nor pesticides or fertilizers. It also implies the control of water usage, while combining different species of plants to preserve the soil’s health.
RUBBER: One of the main raw materials used in VEJAs is rubber. 130 tons of wild rubber purchased since 2004, means 120,000 total hectares of Amazon forest preserved. This material is used in the sole of every sneaker. They buy rubber in the Amazon forest, directly from seringueiro communities. VEJA soles are made of 30 to 40 % natural rubber. For a kilo of harvested rubber, 1.2 ha of forest is protected every year.
TRANSPARENCY: Since 2004, VEJA has set the price of their organic and agro-ecological cotton in advance, in agreement with the state of Céara producer associations. Since the price is completely uncorrelated from the market and its fluctuations, the contracts therefore ensure the producers a greater financial security. This security is all the stronger since they know how much they are going to earn from the cotton before they even plant it. VEJA also pays a 0.50€ collective premium per kilo of cotton the associations use to improve working conditions. VEJA sneakers cost 5 times more to produce than big brand sneakers - because they use fair trade and organic raw materials, because they are more economically equitable for all parties involved in the production chain and because they invest in research and new technologies.
FAIR TRADE: Fair trade is one of the three fundamental pillars VEJA is built on. This means working directly with producers and thus cutting out the middleman. It also means pre-financing harvests as much as 40%. In other words, they buy organic cotton a year before it's transformed into sneakers. The mutually agreed price is set in 1- to 3-year contracts with producer families. That way, the producers know how much they will earn from the harvest before planting a single seed. VEJA also sets a market-uncorrelated price per kilo of organic cotton or rubber to make sure producers can live decently and reinvest in their farm.
For more information on VEJA, visit their new website here.