Veganuary - alternative fashion?
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
January is the month of Veganism. Large restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut and Greggs launch their new vegan products, meat substitutes such as Quorn mince sell out at major stores and basically everyone is trying to focus on eating healthy and thereby saving the environment. But is that the only way?
The answer is no. Definitely not. You can be environmentally friendly with clothes. Yes, you heard me right: There are vegan clothes.
The ethical fashion industry is growing bigger and bigger every year and I decided to write my first fashion post about a brand that was introduced to me a few years ago by a friend in Paris. It's a French brand, and it is amazing.
Even the name sounds snazzy. So you may be wondering: What is VEJA? Well, I will try and summarize it the best way I can. VEJA is a fashion brand that focuses on shoes, and it focuses on its products being produced following the fair trade rules of fashion. How?
Let's talk business:
By working directly with their producers VEJA manage to cut out the middle man, who usually in big brand companies is considered the "money stealer". This means that those families who work with VEJA get an agreed price that lasts 1-3 years for their product per kg. This not only insures their earnings to be fair, but also stops any rapid changes from having an impact on their productivity.
In addition to this, VEJA has decided to not invest the usual 70% of earnings into marketing and advertising. Big companies do this to hype their product, which only leaves 30% to go into production and raw materials. VEJA, however, has cut away that 70% number completely. Through this there is more money that can be spent on production and materials (f.ex. they pay 63% more than the average price for cotton), which leads us to the ethical aspect of this brand.
Let's talk products:
VEJA (= "look" in Portuguese) have 1 in 4 products that is vegan. Their most popular products are their vegan shoes, and let me tell you: they are very comfy. By working with the seringueros (an amazonian rainforest community) the company has learnt how to use their resources in an environmentally friendly way. The soles are made of 18-22% of natural rubber which benefits the rainforest, as for 1 kg natural rubber 1.2 ha is protected every year. Their cotton and rubber are both sourced from Brazil with their long-standing partner ADEC (Associação de Desenvolvimento Educacional e Cultural de Tauá). This company works in organic and agro-ecological farming and therefore assures that the right guidelines are met to remain sustainable.
Those products that are not vegan are still ethically sourced: Their leather is certified gold by the leather working group, they are sure to meet the REACH standards for random inspections and they follow the use of upcycling. Upcycling consists in recycling materials or products that have fallen out of use in order to turn them into higher quality or more useful products. For example, by using recycled plastic bottles to create their B-mesh material for their shoes, they are reusing something which would have gone to waste.
What I love most about this brand is that it not only focuses on the ethical side of production, but also tries to be as ethical as possible as a company. They work with a bank with no branches in tax heavens and the power supplier Enercoop, who provides green electricity. Of course this ethical aspect reaches its limits, however VEJA is very open about reporting what has not been able to support the sustainable motto on their site.
A personal review:
I myself decided to invest in a pair after my favorite pair of converse broke, and I have not regretted my purchase since. After having these shoes for almost three years now I can say that they are incredible quality for the same price you would pay for the classic big store brands. I have been hiking in my shoes in the alps (it was an accident), worn them on several nights out that included a wet floor (don't we all love a messy night once in a while?) and have also just worn them for their actual purpose of making sure my feet stay comfy and dry when I leave the house. I used to think that ethical fashion means more expensive purchases and therefore was sceptic about getting into it, but after doing my research VEJA is just proof that it is very easy to switch over, and it barely makes a difference in your wallet. And it's vegan. Happy Veganuary!
Want a sneak peek? Here are some shoes of all shapes and sizes. You can find plenty more in their store!
Links to these shoes:
1. https://www.veja-store.com/fr/femme/2634-sdu-b-mesh-nautico-petale-.html (vegan)
2. https://www.veja-store.com/fr/wata/2050-wata-canvas-black-pierre.html (vegan)
3. https://www.veja-store.com/fr/home/2781-esplar-se-white-indigo-nautico.html (vegan)
All photos are credited to VEJA's press images album.