Veja – sustainability as a fundamental idea

Walls without plaster. Photo: CiguëMinimalistic Store Design. Photo: VejaInnovative materials. Photo: CiguëFocus on the products. Photo: VejaPanels made of plaster and recyceled paper. Photo: CiguëSneakers from Veja. Photo: Veja

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At the end of last year, the French sneaker brand Veja opened its first stationary store in the Marais district of Paris. The innovative company also takes a sustainable path when it comes to interior design.

Sebastien Kopp and Francois-Ghislain Morillion founded the sneaker brand Veja 15 years ago. The two lateral entrants pursued no less goal than to revolutionize the market for trendy sneakers. Fair production, careful use of natural resources and improvement of working conditions for employees along the entire production chain. That was what the young French had set out to do.

Search for production sites

From the beginning, Kopp and Morillion left nothing to chance. After visiting traditional manufacturing facilities in China, they quickly realised that they wanted to take a different route with their brand. With a clear goal in mind, they started looking for alternatives. They finally found what they were looking for in Brazil. To this day, the now extremely successful company Veja cooperates there with small suppliers of natural rubber or organic cotton. It is not uncommon for these to be family businesses. The Veja brand shoes are fair trade products to the core and they absolutely do not need to hide from their conventionally produced relatives. Neither in terms of quality nor in terms of design and optics. And surprisingly not in terms of price either.

Less money on advertising

Because while internationally known industry leaders and other big brands spend 70 percent of the price on advertising and only a third on raw materials and production, Veja follows a different route. “We do without advertising and can therefore offer our shoes at the same price, even though production costs five times as much,” explain the two founders, who focus on low-cost social media marketing when it comes to distribution. In addition to the photos of satisfied customers, Veja’s Instagram profile also includes portraits of Brazilian farmers and pictures of the production sites.



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In the meantime, Kopp and Morillion, who were just 25 years old at the time the brand was founded, have sold almost 20 million pairs of shoes. Their products are available in 40 countries around the world. While you could initially only buy the sustainable and sometimes vegan sneakers in fair trade stores, you can now even get them from Zalando. In November 2019, Veja’s first stationary store opened in Paris.

First stationary Veja store

After the brand had continuously developed in recent years, the owners decided to take the next big step and open their own store in the center of the French capital. On the 80 square meters of retail space, the focus is clearly on the brand’s exceptional products. The responsible architecture and design studio Ciguë focused on minimalism, transparency and innovation when designing the store. No new materials were used after the plaster was removed from the walls. Only a few simple pieces of furniture, made from plasterboard and recycled paper panels developed by Cigue, act as goods presenters for the Veja sneakers.

Sustainable store design

The goal – how could it be otherwise – was from the beginning to realise an absolutely sustainable store design. The wooden floor recently renovated by the Parisian designer Raphael Navot and the facade of the building should definitely be preserved. The lighting concept for the store comes from the Brazilian artist Kleber Matheus. The electricity fed in is obtained exclusively from renewable energies such as wind power or sunlight. Veja has been cooperating with ENERCOOP, a French green electricity provider, on all of its offices and business premises since 2008.

The store opening in Paris in November 2019 was followed by another Veja store in New York City at the beginning of the year. Since last week, the brand can also been found in Bordeaux, more precisely in a trendy and alternative center of the city called Darwin. In addition to cafés, co-working spaces, an organic supermarket and a skate park, the premises in a former barracks are now also home to a Veja store. There, the brand not only presents and sells the latest sneaker models, but also cleans, repairs and recycles old shoes. According to Veja, reduced goods should also be offered there. Shoes that have minimal defects or come from older collections. Because even after 15 years in the market, the issues of sustainability and resource conservation are top priorities for Veja.