I’ve had my eyes on a pair of Veja’s for well over a year now. My constant ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ reached a tipping point recently and I took the plunge to buy the VEJA Esplar Leather (Extra White) from The Acey (more on them another time).
VEJA designs and produces trainers and accessories from sustainable materials. With a vision to deliver cultural change through fair trade and environmentally conscious practices.
Their work is focussed in Brazil, working with local associations and farmers. Whilst deploying innovative processes to reduce emissions and energy use. There is complete transparency on the materials sourced and manufacturing processes, all available to read on their website, here.
VEJA uses organic cotton sourced from a local association of farmers (ADEC ‘Associação de Desenvolvimento Educacional e Cultural’). Supporting the local farmers with innovative techniques and guidance. You can read more about VEJA’s work with organic cotton farmers here. And the soles are made from wild Amazonian rubber. Harvested by local rubber tappers in Brazil, who have struggled to generate income from wild rubber due to the popularity/low cost of petroleum based rubber.
A great example of VEJA’s transparency is the recognition in the difficulty to source fair trade leather. The nature of cattle breeding and the lack of supply chain knowledge in the industry has made it difficult for VEJA to be sure of their source of leather. Yet they do provide great insight into their leather tanning process, using low-chrome or vegetable tanning processes. Which reduces the level of pollution into water surrounding the tannery. It would be great to see VEJA invest in leather alternatives, which other brands like Matt & Nat are working with. Regardless, an interesting read is the open ‘confession’ of the limitations VEJA encounters to produce their products, which you can find on their website here.
The VEJA Esplar Leather combines the above materials with an upper in low-chrome leather, an inner sole made from organic cotton, and a sole made from wild rubber. All VEJA shoes are assembled by factories located in Brazil. Also impressive is the knowledge VEJA has on the working and living conditions of the workers. It’s clear that VEJA works with these factories to improve working standards and challenges the factories to improve conditions. You can read more about this here.
Finally, the shoes look and feel great. VEJA are a fantastic example of designing products, the right way. And at the end of the day you can’t beat a pair of all white trainers.