The Sustainable Story Behind Meghan Markle’s Veja Sneakers
The French sneaker company is built on social and environmental responsibility.
Pretty much every single thing Meghan Markle wears causes a frenzy. Within hours of her public appearances, the items of clothing on the Duchess’ person tend to spawn waiting lists, cause websites to crash, and—as we recently learned—lead to major spikes in social media numbers.
The Duchess is undoubtedly aware of this so-called ‘Markle Sparkle.’ And she seems to be using her place in the spotlight to highlight socially- and environmentally-conscious brands like Rothy’s, Outland Denim and most recently, Veja, whose black-and-white sneakers she wore while sailing with Prince Harry during the Invictus Games in Sydney.
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ROYAL SUNDAY 👑 ! Yesterday, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex was seen sailing and wearing our V-10 White Black during the Invictus game in Sydney. Our V-10 White Black are made out of leather, organic cotton and wild rubber from the Amazonian forest. No worries, we still have them in stock ! Available on veja.store #veja #vejav10 #invictusgame 📸 : @kensingtonroyal
French sneaker label Veja is a favourite among fashion insiders and celebs like Emma Watson and Marion Cotillard for a variety of reasons. For one, the company prides itself on environmental sustainability, using materials like organic cotton, biodegradable rubber, recycled plastic, jute, hemp and vegetable-tanned leather.
According to Fast Company, “the cotton comes from an organic farm in Brazil, where workers don’t have to worry about harmful pesticides poisoning their villages. The rubber is tapped by people in the Amazon using traditional techniques. The brand tries to use the most sustainable uppers possible, including the skin of the tilapia fish and a leather-like material made from curdled milk.”
Veja, which was founded in 2005, is also known for its fair-trade practices. The ethical company purchases its raw materials from small, independent vendors, thus cutting out middlemen and large corporations. And as Fast Company notes, “Even the way the shoes are boxed, warehoused, and shipped is unconventional: Veja partners with Atelier Sans Frontières, an organization that helps people who have been incarcerated or are otherwise struggling to find work, to employ workers to prepare orders.”
Transparency is another key aspect of the brand’s model. The company highlights the fair-trade family farms in Brazil and the Amazon that its organic and eco-friendly materials come from, documenting the entire transparent supply chain on its website.
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VEJA is working directly with organic cotton producers, and buying their cotton at a very different price, sometimes 2 times the market price. ADEC is the main association of producers we've been working with for over 10 years in the Northeast region of Brazil. Since the beginning, VEJA has purchased more than 200 tons of organic agro-ecological cotton in Brazil. Out of those 200 tons, 77 are coming directly from ADEC. Dealing directly with this group of small producers allows us to cut the middleman out and thus to increase producers’ income. The price of cotton is mutually agreed upon in advance with the families. That way, ADEC farmers already know how much they'll make per kilo. This price covers agro-ecological cotton production costs and allows producers to earn a decent income. A 0,5€ fair trade premium per kilo is also paid to the association at the end of the harvest. This premium is pooled and allows associations to fund themselves. In 2007 and 2009, it was used to pay for organic and Fairtrade certifications, such as the IBD label #organiccotton #veja #vejaproject photo: @charlotte_lapalus
As co-founder Sebastien Kopp explains to Wired, “because of its fair trade philosophy, Veja shoes are typically five- to seven-times more expensive to manufacture than brand name shoes made in Asia. But the company keeps retail prices low by shunning advertising.”
Veja sneakers retail between $140 and $250, which means scoring Meghan Markle-approved shoes doesn’t have to involve maxing out your credit card.