WORDS BY JADE BROCK
Parisian-based label VEJA stands on two different feet — one firmly in the ecological world and the other rooted in timeless style aesthetics. The brand’s coveted sneakers (including the V-10, Campo and Esplar collections) have been wardrobe staples for the fashion cognoscenti for a while now, and it seems the pull towards these eco-conscious kicks is only getting stronger.
VEJA doesn’t cut corners when it comes to planet-friendly production. Passionate about sustainability, the label closely monitors every step of its process to ensure minimal environmental impact. Shoes are made from a plethora of raw materials, including rubber soles harvested from the Amazonian rainforest and organic cotton uppers sourced from Brazil and the Peruvian coast, while the brand’s Brazilian factories are just hours away from producers, reducing transportation distances.
If you’re wondering whether VEJA sneakers are vegan, the answer depends on the style. One out of three of the label’s models are 100% vegan and made using synthetic suede, tech-mesh linings crafted from plastic bottles and C.W.L — a bio-sourced leather alternative composed of corn. For the non-vegan options, every leather is tanned using non-toxic processes to reduce their impact on the environment. If there is an issue with its supply chain, VEJA has already found and solved it, from the water that feeds its cotton plants to the shoeboxes you receive your VEJAs in (recycled, of course).
From the brand’s pronunciation (it’s /ˈve.ʒa/ or ‘vay-ja’ by the way, rhymes with ‘déjà’ as in ‘déjà vu’) to sizing, styling and care advice, we’ve got all the information you need to choose the best VEJA sneakers for you. We’ve even enlisted the advice of four sustainable shoe aficionados to make your decision even easier. Adding to your sneaker collection has never felt so virtuous.
Linh Tran (@don_linh) he/him
Hair & Makeup Artist & Content Creator from Cologne, Germany wearing VEJA V-10 sneakers and VEJA V-Lock sneakers
I like the idea of environmentally friendly sneakers a lot. When I first came across VEJA it felt good to be one of the first ones to wear them in Cologne, and then to see the brand become more and more popular. I think VEJAs just look cool and feel very comfortable — especially the vegan sneakers.
On Sizing & Fit:
I’ve always stuck to my original shoe size for VEJA (EU40), and the fit has always been 100% true to size. It doesn’t matter which model I try on, my normal shoe size always seems to fit.
I love how comfortable my VEJAs are. Often at work I’m on my feet all day long, yet my VEJA sneakers still feel wonderfully comfortable. I particularly recommend the vegan leather options as these models feel extra smooth and soft — you’ll disregard all other sneakers in no time!
My style generally lies between smart casual and urban lifestyle. As a hair and makeup artist I like to wear different looks day-to-day, whether that’s relaxed street vibes or dressing up smartly. I always feel right in a pair of VEJA sneakers, no matter what look I’m going for that day they just work. I wear them casually with jeans or shorts in the warmer months, but also with a suit for more formal business dinners and events.
Admittedly, I’m not the best when it comes to taking care of my shoes. In terms of VEJAs, however, this isn’t so much of an issue as these sneakers are pretty easy to take care of — I just clean them with wet wipes every once in a while, and that’s all. I also store all my shoes in a shoe cabinet, and as I wear different shoes every day, this allows my VEJA sneakers to breathe and relax a little bit.
Anne Johannsen (@annejohannsen)
Instagrammer from Copenhagen, Denmark wearing VEJA Campo sneakers
A friend of mine who works with conscious fashion introduced me to VEJA a while back. I already knew the brand through various online platforms and was intrigued by its minimalist sporty look with a splash of color. I really like the fact that VEJA sneakers are responsibly made without compromising on design. I’m always keen to support brands that reuse plastic since this is something I pay a lot of attention to in my everyday life.
I like to style my VEJA sneakers with GANNI dresses — another brand that is constantly working on being more responsible. I love how the green color of my dress complements the deeper green V detailing on the Campo sneakers. This outfit is totally me, and I feel comfortable and sexy at the same time. Having said this, I have always been a sucker for low-top sneakers and wide-leg jeans combos.
On Sizing & Fit:
I’m normally a EU39 shoe size, and I always take the same size when choosing sneakers so that’s what I went with for my VEJA Campo shoes. I’d say that they are very true to size, but if you’re in doubt or have wider feet, I recommend taking half a size bigger rather than smaller. Life is too short to not wear comfortable shoes.
Comfort is key when it comes to footwear. Even though I probably wear sneakers five days a week, I only have a small selection and think carefully before buying a new pair since they’re an item I know I’m going to wear a lot. I go for long walks and bike rides around Copenhagen almost every day, and I really don't have time to worry about sore feet, who does? VEJA sneakers are comfortable and fit really well. From my experience, low-top sneakers can sometimes be a little rough on your feet in the beginning, but I’ve not had any problems with VEJA.
I‘m a big fan of Jason Markk shoe cleaner. It has given new life to some of my oldest, most worn-out sneakers, ones which I’d already given up on. It even saved one of my favorite pairs which I wore to Roskilde Festival, I thought I could never wear them out in public again! It’s easy and straightforward to use — you just mix it with water and apply it using a sponge or soft brush. The product is 98.3% natural (consisting mainly of natural soaps from coconut and jojoba oils) and the packaging is biodegradable. It works wonders on all materials.
Chris Burt-Allan (@chrisburtallan)
Blogger at A Stylish Man and Instagrammer from Sydney, Australia wearing VEJA V-10 B-Mesh sneakers
VEJA is one of the brands that has really stepped up to the plate with the increasing need for sustainability in fashion. VEJA not only advocates its own sustainable business practices but also recognizes the widespread deficits and ‘greenwashing’ across the industry, thereby encouraging consumers to dig a little deeper.
It is very hard for ethical operations to be quantified and measured because every business is so complex and different, but there is a proxy of sorts in the amount of information provided — and insight disclosed — by brands. Where some brands simply advertise their “support” of a particular initiative, VEJA discusses and quantifies the ethics of their business practices across areas such as community development, sourcing, labor, fabric processing, assembly, logistics and pricing.
VEJA sneakers are extremely versatile, so the styling varies greatly. Sometimes I style them as a beach shoe and sometimes I use them to dress down a more formal outfit. The outfit pictured is somewhere in the middle, verging into the realm of streetwear. I have always been a proponent of high-waisted, pleated trousers — they elongate the legs and define the waist, creating a nice silhouette. Here I have balanced tailored trousers with a classic vest and a silk shirt, for an old-school yet edgy vibe.
I chose a pair of VEJAs that are basically as organic as possible, made from leather, cotton and rubber. If I am buying new clothing and not vintage, I choose pieces by looking at fabrication. My advice for shopping sustainably is just to be more mindful. Find local brands that do great basics in natural fabrics, and care about their environmental and social impact. When you're going to buy something, think about how it was made (the true cost) and where it will eventually go.
On Sizing & Fit:
I find VEJA to be true to size. I chose my usual size and they fit well. I went for a 2K walk the first time I wore them with no problems. That said, the toe cap is quite narrow and I felt a slight pressure on my smaller toes.
I would say that they are less comfortable than running shoes but on par with other fashion sneakers such as the Nike Air Force 1. My New Balance 770s are more comfortable because the suede is softer and they are cushioned on the inside.
There are a lot of things you can do to keep your shoes in good condition. The first line of defense is not getting them dirty in the first place, which basically means not wearing them off-road or in wet conditions. Also, be mindful of crowded situations where people are likely to step on your feet.
You can also make your shoes more resilient by using a sealant such as fabric protector or shoe polish. I also find that rubber is less likely to scuff if it's dusted with talcum powder, which makes the rubber more slippery.
To clean your shoes, start by brushing them down to get rid of loose dirt and dust. Then wipe down non-absorbent parts such as rubber and sealed leather with a damp cloth. Stubborn marks might require a bit of soap. Just be aware that excess water will be absorbed by fabric such as laces, mesh and cotton stitching, which might be harder to clean. Some shoes can be put in the washing machine, do be sure to check fabrication and definitely don't put leather in the wash.
Jessica Skye Stewart (@_jessicaskye)
Instagrammer from London, United Kingdom wearing VEJA V-10 leather sneakers
VEJA has always been my go-to sneaker brand for styling my everyday looks. Whenever in doubt on what to wear I always grab my VEJA shoes. They’re so versatile and are guaranteed to go with every piece of clothing I own — a classic pair of sneakers that’s a wardrobe essential.
It’s incredibly important to me that the brands I wear or work with are making vital steps towards sustainability. VEJA has always led the way and is 100% transparent in the work that it does in order to achieve this. Each step in making its shoes has been thought out and planned to help protect our planet whilst still keeping up with a fashion-forward aesthetic.
I wear my VEJA V-10 sneakers almost every day and team them with nearly all of my outfits, whether I’m running out the door to walk the dog, jumping on the tube to go to a meeting, or heading to the local pub for lunch. They tie in nicely with any occasion, and seamlessly combine comfort with style. My favorite looks to pair them with are laid-back suiting, jeans and a T-shirt, or my favorite silky black tapered trousers. I especially love how a sharp suit is instantly stripped back to something more casual when wearing VEJA shoes.
I’m also very much looking forward to sporting them with my spring dresses, including my favorites from Reformation and RIXO. I love how these timeless and sustainable ditsy floral-print dresses go with a fresh white sneaker in the warmer months. I’m obsessed with how a pair of VEJAs can instantly transform a look, giving you an instant boost of confidence.
On Sizing & Fit:
VEJA sneakers fit true to size and are incredibly comfortable. I’m always a little hesitant when buying any shoes online as I tend to be in-between sizes in most brands, but when it comes to VEJAs I recommend taking your usual size.
VEJAs are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever worn, they feel like you’re walking on clouds and there’s no rubbing on the heel or across the feet. The smooth lining inside makes for a perfect shoe. I find the fit and feel of VEJA sneakers incredibly premium compared to other high-end sneakers I have purchased or worn, the leather and cotton materials are super soft and snug.
I always protect my VEJA V-10s with Liqui Proof protector which dramatically reduces wear and tear. I also like to keep my sneakers bright white and super fresh, so I always clean them as soon as any marks occur. For a deep clean, the first step is to remove the laces and place them in the washing machine ready for your next white wash. I dry brush the outside of the sneakers removing any dried-on dirt. Then, I make up a soapy solution of washing liquid or laundry detergent, and using a clean cloth (nothing that has been used with bleach or any other products) gently rub and massage the dirt away until the shoe is clean. I always allow them to air dry at room temperature.
If your shoes only have a few scuffs and marks, I tend to use a biodegradable wipe to gently remove any dirt. This is a super quick and easy way to clean your sneakers if time is of the essence.
Pam Arias (@pamarias)
Digital Content Creator at The Girl From Panama from Los Angeles, USA wearing VEJA V-12 sneakers
I love what VEJA stands for and the story behind the brand — sustainable sneakers made with ethical suppliers using ecological materials. I think now more than ever it’s very important to support and buy from sustainable brands.
I love styling my VEJA sneakers with casual looks like I’m wearing here, something comfortable that I can wear when I’m out running some essential errands. I love pairing them with recyclable basics from other brands that are zero-waste, closed-loop companies.
On Sizing & Fit:
For me, the VEJA V-12 runs a bit bigger so I went down half a size. Usually I’m a 6.5US but I took a 6US. They are so comfortable, I love the way they fit and feel.
I like to clean my sneakers with just water and a clean cloth, although sometimes I use baby wipes. My advice is don’t use anything too harsh, as it can damage them.