Veja doesn’t just make shoes; it makes statements. The French company employs some of the greenest footwear materials on the planet, including wild Amazonian rubber, organic and fair-trade cotton, vegetable-tanned leather, and tilapia-skin waste. The sneakers are plenty cool to look at, too, with modern, minimalist lines and an understated aesthetic that travels well even in rarified fashion circles. Launched in 2004 by a pair of then-25-year-olds, Veja is also keen to innovate. The newest addition to its stable is B-Mesh (for “bottle mesh”), a textile made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. It takes about three plastic bottles to create a single pair of shoes, according to Veja.

FANTASTIC PLASTIC

Produced in Rio de Janeiro using high-performance machines from Toyota, B-Mesh now accounts for 30 percent of Veja’s current line.

It’s a number that Sébastien Kopp, Veja’s co-founder, only expects to grow. Although the textile is roughly 10 times more expensive to manufacture, B-Mesh is flexible, waterproof, yet breathable—just what a running shoe calls for.

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“At Veja, because we don’t spend money on things like advertising, we can produce very high quality shoes at a competitive price,” Kopp told Ecouterre.

Veja’s next step is addressing its shoes’ end of life. “Right now, we’re working on applying a cradle-to-cradle model, where one product becomes another that becomes another that becomes another with a minimum energy footprint,” Kopp said.

He added: “We know it is the model for the future.”

+ Veja