Sustainable fashion is the ‘in thing’ at the moment. And, of course, these days most of us love to wear sneakers when we go about our day-to-day lives. That’s where Veja comes in. With fans including royals Megan Markle and Kate Middleton and celebs like Kourtney Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski, these are the new ‘must-have sneakers’. The best news? They’re sustainable as well as ultra-cool.
Veja: The new must-have sneaker
Despite its newfound viral status and cult popularity, Veja has been around for years. The French footwear brand was founded in Paris all the way back in 2004. The first sneakers were launched in 2005 and ever since then, the brand has been on an upwards trajectory. Immediately after its launch, Parisian department stores took notice and began selling the brand. Now, in 2021, you can find Veja sneakers in 50 countries.
The brand produces a massive 2 million pairs of shoes every year. But it was only in 2019 that the brand finally relented and opened a physical store in Paris. In 2020, it followed that with another brick-and-mortar store in New York.
Meghan Markle and her viral sneakers
Despite the fact that the brand hasn’t spent any money on either marketing or celebrity gifting since its inception in 2004, Veja still manages to have some pretty influential clientele. Famous fans of the sneaker brand include the likes of Kate Middleton and Emily Ratajkowski. But it was Megan Markle that sent the brand skyrocketing in terms of popularity back in 2018. That was when Markle wore a pair of Veja’s V-10 leather low-top sneakers during an Invictus Games sailing event with Prince Harry.
At the time, founders Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion didn’t even know who Markle was. They claim to not be too focused on celebrities but were, of course, pleased to see her wearing their footwear once they found out who she was and what she represented.
Once fans had seen Markle wearing the sneakers, they went viral. And Veja’s Instagram account was suddenly overwhelmed. The brand received thousands of likes and comments and topped Lyst’s “Insta Brand We Want to Wear” report in 2018. Since then, the brand has been on a seemingly never-ending upwards trajectory and consumers keep coming back for more.
Sustainability at its heart
Ultimately, though Markle started the process, consumers have stuck with the brand because of its strong values and ethical stance. As consumer thinking changes, brands like Veja will inevitably only grow in popularity because it’s what consumers want. We all want to wear comfortable shoes, and many of us are huge fans of sneakers. But we also increasingly want the companies we choose to support to be eco-friendly and socially responsible.
This is exactly what Veja stands for. The brand has, since it was founded in 2004, maintained the same values and ethics. Ethical sourcing, transparency, and social responsibility have been the making of the brand. But how do you make an ethical sneaker brand profitable? Ultimately, no matter the ethics of the company, it can’t survive if it isn’t profitable. Veja, says that the way they manage to make their sneakers both sustainable and (relatively) affordable is through how they spend the money.
The founders explained to Footwear News that “seventy percent of the cost of a normal big sneaker brand is related to advertising. So, eliminating ads, marketing costs, doing away with brand ambassadors and billboards means we can invest in our employees, our materials, our factories, and, therefore, our planet. It means we can focus on the production chain and how to change it”.
Upping the sustainability stakes
Though the brand has always been passionate about sustainability and social responsibility, according to founders Kopp and Morillion, there is always room for improvement. In 2020, Veja launched the Darwin project which aims to minimize waste and support the circular economy. Worn sneakers will be repaired or, if they are not fixable, recycled. Ultimately, the brand sees this as its responsibility.
As they are now producing so many sneakers, there will, in the long run, be lots of discarded Veja sneakers. Thus, they want to solve the issue before it becomes a problem.
The brand also makes use of organic cotton, canvas, and carom-free leather. Any leather used comes from tanneries that are certified Gold by the Leather Working Group. 1 in three of the Veja models are vegan. And to boot, the brand is completely transparent about its carbon footprint and has calculated its carbon emissions from raw materials and transportation to factories and shipping of the final product.
If you’re looking for a sustainable sneaker, look no further
If you, like me, love a pair of sneakers but are looking to become more environmentally responsible, Veja is the go-to brand. Not only is the brand a celeb staple, but it’s accessible to all of us. The sneakers are relatively pricey but remember, you’re paying for a brand that is sustainable from beginning to end. The classic V-10, favorites of Megan Markle are €125.