How are sneakers made ?

VEJA is Brazilian for "look", looking beyond the sneakers, looking at how they're made.

How are VEJA's made? How much are labourers paid? How much does an organic cotton producer earn? What are the chemicals used in a pair of VEJA? VEJA's transparency boils down to about ten or so questions.


Making our way back up the production chain

Since 2004, we have set the price of our organic and agro-ecological cotton in advance, in agreement with the state of Céara producer associations.

Since the price is completely decorrelated from the market and its fluctuations, the contracts therefore ensure the producers a greater financial security. This security is all the stronger since they know how much they are going to earn from the cotton before they even plant it.

We also pay a 0,5€ collective premium per kilo of cotton the associations use to improve working conditions.

Photo by Vincent Desailly

Cotton flower Ceará, 2016

© Studio VEJA

Price of cotton purchased

Market price



On average, we purchased our cotton
twice as much as market price in 2017.

Our VEJA sneakers cost 5 times more to produce than big brand sneakers. Because we use fair trade and organic raw materials, because they are more economically equitable for all parties involved in the production chain, because we invest in research and new technologies.

Since VEJA was created, all of our sneakers were handled by ASF employees.

Atelier Sans Frontières promotes the professional integration of people who are excluded from the labour market, by offering them a suitable paid job, personalized social support, and helping them develop a career plan.

They are responsible for receiving sneakers shipped from Brazil, organizing their warehousing, preparing orders and shipping them to stores that distribute VEJA.

Photo by Vincent Desailly

Preparing a V-10 Black Atelier Sans Frontières, 2017

© Studio VEJA

We asked a Chinese factory to provide a cost estimation for producing our Esplar style.

A VEJA would cost 3 times less to produce in that factory.

In the VEJA factories in Brazil

18.21 €

In a Chinese factory

6.55 €

But they wouldn't be made with socially and environmentally responsible materials and processes.

ContainersBonneuil-sur-Marne, 2009

© VEJA Studio

Fair Trade

Since 2004, we have been applying fair trade principles on the ground. In other words, we work directly with producers and cut out the middleman.

We pre-finance harvests by as much as 40%. In other words, organic cotton is purchased a year before it's turned into a sneaker.

The mutually agreed price is set in 1- to 3-year contracts with producer families. That way, the producers know how much they will earn from the harvest before planting a single seed. This price is market-decorrelated to make sure producers can live decently and reinvest in their farm.

the future of environmentalism ?

Organic certification

All of our cotton has been certified organic since VEJA was launched. Our new Peruvian partner is also certified.

Chemical transparency

Every year, we check the chemical safety of our sneakers. In other words, we test them to make sure they don't contain any noxious, toxic or polluting elements.

Dmitri Mendeleiev's Periodic Table

© Dmarcus100 / Wikimedia

To do so, every season we choose 10 models from our collection to serve as a reference. One pair from each model is then selected at random during production. These test models are then taken apart, and each component is literally crushed into powder with a grinder.

These powders are used to confirm and measure the absence or presence of 298 prohibited or regulated chemical compounds.

That's what happened a few years ago when in one of our brown suede sneakers, we found a chemical that wasn't prohibited, but regulated because it was considered a potential hormone disrupter.

We didn't wait for it to be banned, which could take years, and since we realized it came from the dye, we changed it immediately. These tests help us improve and get better. All of our dyes meet REACH standards.

Physical tests

Physical tests

© Studio VEJA 2017

Chemical tests

Chemical tests

© Studio VEJA 2017

Physical and Mechanical tests

We also test, under the same conditions, the mechanical properties of our shoes.

Repeated movements (bending, friction, etc.) are carried out by machines on pairs of control sneakers selected at random. We then measure sole wear, seam resistance, etc.