THE STORY BEHIND VEJA
Veja is a French brand of children's trainers and women's trainers that favours environmentally friendly materials and uses organic cotton, vegetable tanned leather and natural fair trade rubber. Like the rest of the collection, Veja trainers are made in Brazil with respect for the environment and its employees.
It was in 2004 that François-Ghislain Morillion and Sébastien Kopp decided to found the Veja brand. Their goal? To bring out a brand of eco-friendly trainers using transparent manufacturing methods, with as its guiding principle the reduction of CO2, packaging and transport.
With the Veja trainers you adopt a new way of thinking and acting, thanks to a solidarity and ecological chain from producer to consumer. Inspired by a Brazilian model from the 70s, the kids’ Veja trainer is a green product, equally trendy for young and old alike. Unmistakable due to its V, the Veja trainer is available in many colours and patterns, with velcro, laces, high-tops or low-tops.
The new Veja kids’, baby and teens’ collections are in the Smallable family concept store. Now you don’t have any excuse if your kid doesn’t have a pair of Veja trainers yet! Also find collaborations between Veja and other designer brands.
INTERVIEW WITH Sébastien Kopp
Co-FOUNDER OF Veja
How was the Veja project born ?Veja is the story of two friends who wanted to give their lives a little more meaning, and create a project that could make a change thanks to its exemplary manner. We created Veja when we were only 25 years old, and we decided to completely change the way sneakers are made, by sourcing raw materials in a different way. Veja buys its organic cotton directly from small, Brazilian producers in order to make the canvas for its sneakers.
For the soles, we buy the wild rubber directly from communities living in the Amazonian forest. We have the sneakers made in Brazil in a factory that respects workers’ rights, and the warehouse that stocks and dispatches orders is a company that promotes reintegration in France. Veja means look in Portugese, and we wish to show that it is possible to change things on a large scale. At the start of our project, many people advised us to abandon it and told us we didn’t stand a chance. This motivated us even further, and gives us even more energy today.
How do you explain your rapid success, even though you do not advertise and the competition is strong ?Word of mouth. The fact that we offer a very different project. The extreme attention we give to the design of our sneakers.
I get the impression that today Veja is seen as a cool brand, and that its community involvement and everything behind that is almost forgotten, how do you see it ?In fashion, aesthetics take the lead and everyone wants to wear cool sneakers. Many people adore Veja without knowing the real, ecological and social project behind the brand. We believe very strongly in collective intelligence rather than in advertising.
We believe it is up to the customer to inform himself and decide. Consumerism can truly change the world of tomorrow. This is the combat that we have chosen. Every day we receive enormous amounts of emails saying “I have been wearing Vejas for 3 or 4 years, and I have only just discovered the intensity of your project”. We consider these as the best messages that we could receive. Customers who discovered Veja thanks to its design that have become interested in what we do prior to the production process.
Tell us how a pair of Veja sneakers is made (the different stages of production) ?We buy our organic cotton for making the shoe canvas according to fair trade principles. We began with an association that included about 50 small, local producers (family farmers), and today there are 700. We buy wild rubber from the Amazon according to fair trade principles: this material composes 40% of Veja soles.
It allows for economical farming of the Amazonian Forest, without endangering it. The leather that is used for Veja shoes is vegetable tanned, with Acacia bark, without using chrome, which makes it a more ecologically-friendly leather and we have developped new, ecologically-friendly materials.
You have a commitment in the field, how do you see the situation of your Brazilian partners evolving ?Our project has created a veritable, healthy rivalry and the local cooperatives and small producers are developping in the region in which we work (Ceara / Northeast Brazil). It is very moving to see the changes there. In the Amazon, it is true that our impact is minimised given the scale of the forest, but it has inspired other projects.
YOU HAVE A COMMITMENT IN THE FIELD, HOW DO YOU SEE THE SITUATION OF YOUR BRAZILIAN PARTNERS EVOLVING ?Our project has created a veritable, healthy rivalry and the local cooperatives and small producers are developping in the region in which we work (Ceara / Northeast Brazil). It is very moving to see the changes there. In the Amazon, it is true that our impact is minimised given the scale of the forest, but it has inspired other projects.
What are your future projects ?To reinvent ourselves every day.
Veja is avaible at Smallable online and in our Parisian concept store 81 rue du cherche-midi - 75006. Close