You will not want any other sneakers ever again (I wouldn't)
Updated: Apr 15, 2019
I fell in love with Veja shoes about a year ago when I was looking for an eco alternative for my sneakers collecting addiction. It was love at first sight.
At Veja, they realize that when you buy a pair of sneakers 70% of the cost goes to marketing and advertisement and only 30% goes to raw materials and production. So they decided to change this stereotype.
Changing the process and investing in raw materials and people who make the sneakers instead of advertising was a great choice. The result is a product born with greater respect for the environment. So, let's explain the process a little bit. They found factories that protect the workers in Brazil. It made great sense to start there where they have all the raw materials needed. Next step was to try to change each production stage so it has a positive impact on the environment and society. It must have been a very interesting journey. They met communities that live in and come from the forest in Amazon. Without destroying it, they do their best living in harmony with nature there.
Two different worlds met in Amazon and agreed to work together differently on an incredible product. Wild rubber harvested from the rubber trees became the cornerstone of Veja sneakers. It represents 40% of all sneaker soles they have made since. You would not guess where Veja found organic cotton producers. In was in poor parts of Brazil, in Nordeste, by the Atlantic coast, where it is hard for anything to grow, but organic cotton without fertilizers or pesticides evidently does. And this cotton is more than just organic, it is agro-ecological and that counts twice! Let me explain.
“Conventional agriculture uses chemicals and tends to damage the soil over the long term. In Brazilian Nordeste, we discover the principles behind agroecology: it makes the soil richer after the harvest instead of harming it.”
And now, wait for it, that organic cotton is used as the upper of Veja sneakers and it is also Fair Trade. Veja explain how it works: “We pay for crops in advance, at a price set in a three-year contract. In other words, when they plant a cotton seed, they already know how much they’re going to sell one kilo”. And when you think it cannot get any better you find out it can: “We keep following the production path and find ourselves in the south of Brazil, in a Porto Alegre sneaker factory. It's a developed region, similar to Europe, with strong social rights. The workers work reasonable hours and 82% of them are unionized. And that's where we decide to manufacture our sneakers,” says Veja. Wow. I write this with a smile on my face and I swear I was not paid by this company and paid for both of my Veja sneakers.
Meghan Markle wore Veja while visiting Sydney in October 2018. Everybody likes Veja!
There is still more to write about the materials. The leather used is tanned with a vegetal process. Another ecologically ambitious material is developed from plastic bottles collected from the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo. They are then crushed into flakes and shipped to a Brazilian factory where they turn the flakes into fiber called B-mesh.
Veja wanted their company to have positive impact and they sought transparency too. They needed a change inside and out. As a result, they changed their suppliers. “For instance, we choose banks that have no branches in tax havens, and we change our power supplier to Enercoop, who provides green electricity collected from small independent producers,” says Veja and I applaud to that. Customers are the ones who decide in what world we will live in. And as Dalailama said: "If you think you are too small to change the world try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”
Thank you, Veja, for fabulous sneakers and for this wonderful and hard journey you took to make your project so wonderful and thoughtful. It is perfect!