Find Sustainable Versions Of Your Favorite Classic Sneakers
Ethically-sourced sneakers for a price of a pair of Nikes? Yes, it's possible
Veja, a Franco-Brazilian shoe company has something for those fans of Nike Blazers and Adidas Stan Smiths who are worried that by choosing their favorite footwear they are adding to the exploitation of farmers or the deforestation of the Amazon. And for anyone who just needs a cool pair of sneakers.
Unlike some other eco-friendly brands, Veja does not sacrifice modern design or affordability to be able to produce their footwear in a sustainable manner. Instead, in order to cut costs, it relies solely on word-of-mouth marketing. The result? Veja’s shoes are sold in 1,000 boutiques worldwide and Marion Cotillard, a famous French actress, named the brand as one of her three favorites, placing Veja in the same ranks as Chanel and Dior—an accomplishment that would be impressive even if the company had a massive advertising budget.
Veja’s sneakers cost three to four times more to produce than traditional sneakers, so where is that money going? For starters, the company uses organic cotton sourced directly from an association of small local farmers, cutting out the middleman and leaving more cash in the farmers’ pockets. Veja also pays them 65 percent more than the market price to ensure that they make a decent living.
The rubber for the soles is supplied by 60 families who use traditional rubber tapping methods and who transform latex into rubber sheets without any industrial intermediary process, which leaves them with a product that is semi-finished, allowing for a larger profit margin. Since the ’60s, the prices of naturally sources rubber have been dropping dramatically due to the increasing use of synthetic rubber derived from petroleum. According to the GEB-1 index, the price of natural rubber varied between 1.60 -1.90 EUR/kg, while the synthetic rubber could be bought at 1 – 1.20 EUR/kg. As a result, many farmers have moved to more profitable activities, such as cattle-raising or wood extraction, contributing to the deforestation of the Amazon and desertification of the newly obtained land. By sourcing its rubber from natural sources and at a price that ensures a decent living conditions, Veja helps promote more sustainable management of the Amazon.
According to a Nielsen 2015 report, 66 percent of global respondent are willing to pay more for sustainably-made products, which is 20 percent more than four years ago. Veja’s success proves that those numbers are not pure statistics and can be translated into real profit.