An ethical passion for fashion

Sunday 2 June 2013, by edupalomeras,, saranilsson

2 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Veja is a french brand of ecological and fair trade footwear and accessories that was founded in 2004 by Sébastien Kopp and Ghislain Morillion. Born out of a desire for a new kind of fashion, Veja works with cooperatives of small producers and social associations in Brazil and France.

Veja started out as a company with mission: to “disobey” rules of commerce and prove that a sustainable way of doing business is not in contradiction with making profits. Kopp and Morillon decided to focus in sneakers: a universal, fashion product of which conventional methods of production has significant social and environmental impacts.

Veja has a staff of almost 30 operating in Paris, London and Brazil. Today, Veja products – that have already been featured on Vogue, The Guardian, Clark, Monocle or Spray- are distributed in selected shops around the world like Le Bon Marché and FrenchTrotter in Paris, Selfridges in London, Oi Polloi in Manchester, EKS in Madrid, Prive Joke in Brussels… The company has approximately 150 stores worldwide.

Veja carries its own online store ( featuring online exclusives and a selection of the Veja collection.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

Organic cotton, Amazonian rubber and eco-tanned leather vs synthetic
The company buys ecologically grown cotton in small Brazilian farms, where agro-chemicals and pesticides are banned. It helps to preserve the lifestyle of hundreds of families who do organic farming while protecting the environment.

Veja’s products use rubber harvested from the trees, and transformed without industrial processes working hand-in-hand with environmental activists.

In addition to the previous processes, the firm decreases the environmental harm produced by dyeing leather by using vegetable extracts to tan it.

Higher but fair production costs vs conventional costs
Veja face higher production costs because they fairly remunerate their suppliers (farmers and producers). The company is also affected by the changes in the harvest and because of the use of green produced energy in their headquarters in France. To tackle these problems Veja applies a zero stock and zero advertising policy, which are key to achieved competitive prices.

Continuous improvement vs complacency
The acknowledgment of the firm’s limitations stimulates managers to actively seek new more ecological methods, while being transparent.

The company is working hard to improve the transportation methods (shoes are delivered by plane in two continents), reduce synthetic product dependence on some stages of the production process (laces, pigmentation) and the diversification of the supply

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

We believe that this company is ethical since it has been their key idea since the beginning. They have integrated the ethical thinking in all parts of the company and it’s the main idea of their strategy and business. We think that they are very inspiring since they believe that “another world is possible” and they are working towards that goal.

On their webpage you can read about what they do and how they work. They write about that they have a zero zero strategy, their certifications, how they work for the environment and better conditions for workers. But what makes us trust this company even more is that they are also showing their limitations and not just the good parts. On the webpage they write that they are not perfect and they describe the company as a project that is constantly evolving.

Certifications are something that can be seen as prove of their work. Veja thinks that certifications aren’t their ultimate goal but it is minimum standards and a starting point.

• FLO / FAIRTRADE standards - In 2009 the association of cotton producers Veja work with (ADEC) have received the compliance certificate for the FLO / FAIRTRADE standards.

• In 2007, Veja began the organic certification process for the cotton produced by ADEC.

Veja is saying that their sneakers are three-four times more expensive than the competition and by explaining why they are more expensive they gain trust. This makes us think that Veja seems to be an honest and transparent company.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The company is honest and admits that the Veja project is far from being perfect. Here we have some limitations: laces are not made with organic cotton, American and Asiatic clients are delivered by plane instead of boat, the pigments used for dyeing leather, rubber and cotton, are not made from natural products. In order to obtain a consistent colour without staining, Veja uses conventional dying approved by Ecolabel. Also Veja’s production is limited and dependent on the harvests of organic cotton and after a caterpillar attack, producers decided to spray pesticide to protect their harvest.

But Veja is an investigation, a project that is constantly evolving. This consistent development aims to reach perfection. The company is aware about make an improvement like produce recycling trainers, development of vegetable and non-polluting colour pigments.

With an annual growth of about 20%, Veja is a successful company but their ultimate ambition is to continue their growth and make the business successful in the coming years to prove that it is possible to business in a different way. However they know that they don’t want to become so big that they lose the unification they have achieved in their supply chain. The company is looking to diversify its organic cotton supply chain because the need of this material is increasing.


Location: Paris (France)

Sector: Manufacturing

Official website:

Key figures:

Type of business: Originally footwear (sneakers), now includes Bags and accessories
Location: Head Office in Paris, France. Offices in London and Brazil.
Turnover: 5€ million/year. From 5.000 pairs of shoes in 2004 to 121.000 pairs in 2011.
Number of employees: 30 staff based in Paris, London and Brazil
OC Value chain Partners: ESPLAR (NGO) and ADEC (Farmer’s Association)

Nbr. visits: 10656

Nbr. inspires: 2