Following news of Gucci’s new circular initiative and Kering’s appointing Emma Watson as chair of its sustainability committee, responsible sneaker label Veja is reasserting its own eco-friendly credentials.
Next week, on June 25, Veja is opening an 820 square foot space in a former military barracks the heart of Darwin in Bordeaux, France, from which it will launch new project, Veja x Darwin.
The objective of Veja’s new initiative is the cleaning, repair and recycling of the brand’s footwear to minimize waste and support the circular economy. The facility will clean and repair worn pairs of sneakers and collect and recycle those that have been worn beyond help.
A further objective of the venture is to create a blueprint for how Veja hopes its stores might look in the future.
Veja x Darwin will also bring together never-launched Veja prototypes, sneakers with minimal flaws to be sold at reduced prices plus shoes from previous collections.
Co-founder Sébastien Kopp gave FN a sneak preview of the project in November at the launch of the brand’s Paris flagship boutique when it also launched the Condor, its first technical runner. “It’s more like a laboratory,” he revealed at the time, preferring to keep mum until it was finished.
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FIND DARWIN, AN EXAMPLE OF SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL COMMITMENT BASED IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE Darwin is a different place. Launched in Bordeaux in 2012, its founder @philippebarre had the desire and the spirit to renovate this former military barracks and turn it into an alternative place, a space for sharing and reflection on the role of the company in the service of the general and collective interest. Darwin continues to encourage and support this form of artistic expression, turning the area into an open-air gallery. This space of 90,000 m2 on the Quai des Queyries reinvigorates the right bank of Bordeaux. Since its creation, @darwin.camp has been passionate about practicing energy-saving and sustainable practices. The militant festival @climax_festival is organized there every year, bringing together music and debates around current issues. Performing as an activist core, Darwin has developed space for outdoor and indoor activities and has been the Mecca of solidarity during the confinement. Darwin and VEJA have been close for years, organizing events and launching initiatives together. Stay tuned to discover our new project tomorrow. #darwin 📸: @emmanuelgabily
“We never promise anything. We never talk about something that is not made,” he said. “We never talk about 2030, 40 or 50. I believe that now is not the time to speak, it is the time to act and to show results.”
Indeed, the minimalist, double-facade boutique in Paris shares its design ethos with that of the label’s kicks.
Take the mosaic parquet flooring: It was originally created by innovative architect Raphael Navot, using vertically placed pieces of reclaimed wood, artfully slotted together. For the walls, they stripped away the plaster to reveal the bare concrete beneath and — in a nod to the site’s former tenant, a store called Shine — retained a whisper of its logo etched on the concrete like a ghost of retail past.
Paris-based architecture and design studio Ciguë created bespoke shelving from recycled paper and plaster and used LED lighting because it has the lowest carbon footprint possible, Kopp said. The ceiling features a light sculpture by Brazilian neon artist Kleber Matheus.
Even the electricity is green, powered by French cooperative renewable energy provider Enercoop, which uses only energy from hydraulic, wind turbine, solar and biomass sources. The partnership was a no-brainer, said Kopp, noting that the energy company has supplied the Veja HQ since 2008.
The boutique reopened in May when Paris exited its 10 week confinement.
Last month, the eco-friendly sneaker brand, which counts Meghan Markle and Katie Holmes as fans, also revealed it is launching its first store in the United States.
Located in New York’s Nolita neighborhood, the store will be just as sustainable as its Paris forerunner. “The recycled wooden floor tells a story, and it’s also far more ecological to try to keep everything,” Kopp said in a statement, adding that the store’s electricity is 100% renewable with wind energy provided by renewable energy company Abest.
In addition to a display of Veja sneakers, for men, women and kids, a video offers shoppers a chance to hear the brand’s story and mission, and shows the entire process of how its shoes are made.
The shop plans to host monthly panels, discussions and activations that focus on transparency, climate initiatives and sustainability.
Founded in 2005 by entrepreneurs Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion, Veja creates sneakers differently, mixing social projects, economic justice and ecological matters. It also collaborated with Rick Owens for fall ’19.