Veja is a sustainable sneaker brand known for its minimalist aesthetic, the distinguishable ‘v’ and an accessible price point. The two founders have completely bootstrapped the company. Without outside investors, they are fully in control of how their brand operates.
The footwear company employs Fair Trade regulations in its supply chain with a strict Code of Conduct. Fair Trade means they work directly with producers and thus cut out the middleman. By banning child labour, forced labour, discrimination, ensuring work safety, wages respect and decency, right to union-trade, they ensure their employees work in a safe and motivating environment. They also ensure their suppliers pay living wages. Veja regularly pays well more than market prices for organic cotton and wild rubber, sometimes as much as double.
VEJA purchases its organic cotton directly, whilst respecting fair trade principles. They then weave it into the canvas, laces and uppers used in many VEJA models. Veja makes each sneaker sole from 30 – 40% natural rubber from seringueiro communities in the Amazon forest. Veja designs out of four shoes as 100% vegan. The leather comes from southern Brazil, a tannery audited and certified Gold by the Leather Working Group. While they use some chrome-tanned cow leather, they test and ensure it is well within the standards. They use vegetable tanned leather for the rest. Veja has also used “fish leather” from tilapia in their shoes. They also make B-Mesh fabric upcycled from recycled PET plastic and J-Mesh fabric from a combination of jute, recycled cotton, and recycled PET. Veja’s new athletic performance shoe is only 53% bio-based. They hope to include 100% bio-based shoes in the future.
Shoe boxes are made of recycled and recyclable cardboard, while the company powers its headquarters with renewable energy supplied by Enercoop.
The founders refer to the brand as their project, with one foot in design and the other in social responsibility. This means protecting the Amazon, upcycling materials, and being transparent about everything from chemical testing to wages. They have organic certification for their cotton and check the chemical safety of their sneakers to ensure no hazardous chemicals from production persist. The tanners use acacia extracts instead of chrome to tan the leather used for the shoe collections. Unlike modern tanning processes, this avoids serious water pollution.
Veja believes in complete transparency, stating information about the cost of materials, wages, and a strict Code of Conduct. They require the manufacturing plant to perform recurring social audits and chemical tests. The founders are transparent about their limitations, too. For example, Veja doesn’t make their shoelaces from organic cotton. Also, the eyelets of the shoes don’t contain nickel but come from metal the company didn’t source themselves. They do not pay for advertising, instead, they inject that budget into their supply chain to also bring down the price as well as not sacrificing on quality.