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.

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.

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.