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Cotton

Organic cotton, the raw material of the future?

The organic cotton we use at VEJA is grown by farmer's associations in Brazil and Peru who harvest it with respect for people and the environment.

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NOVA High Top launched in January 2020, with canvas and lining made entirely from agroecological and organic cotton, respecting fair trade principles.

© Studio VEJA

VEJA buys organic cotton directly, respecting fair trade principles before weaving it into the canvas, laces, and uppers used in most of our VEJA styles.

More than 1052 tons of organic cotton were purchased from 2004 till the end of 2021 in Brazil and Peru. 

Since the launch of the VEJA project in 2004, we have purchased close to 1 052 tons of organic and fair trade cotton directly from producer associations in different regions of Brazil and the Peruvian coast.

GPS location of cotton producers

VEJA's organic cotton production

Droughts are frequent in Brazil. Between 2012 and 2017, the northeast of Brazil suffered the longest drought in its history. In the northeast of Brazil, there is a 60% chance of drought every season.

In 2021, we used 40% cotton from Brazil and 60% from Peru due to another drought.

In 2021, we purchased more than 410 tons of cotton produced by approximately 914 families based in more than 60 municipalities in Brazil and Peru. VEJA paid up to 50% in advance to the association

Organic cotton during harvesting

2018

© Charlotte Lapalus

Organic cotton bought by VEJA

(kg per year)

Evolution of the organic cotton price

(R$/KG per year)

Working directly with producers in Brazil

What sets VEJA apart is working directly with organic cotton producers and buying their cotton at a market uncorrelated price.

ADEC (Associação de Desenvolvimento Educacional e Cultural de Tauá) is one of our producer associations with which we have been working for over 18 years in the Northeast region of Brazil.

The price of cotton is mutually agreed upon in advance with the families. That way, ADEC farmers already know how much they will make per kilo.

We set up a 2-year contract at the beginning of the year, guaranteeing that we will buy their cotton. Thereafter, we set the price at the beginning of each year.

This price covers the agroecological cotton production costs and allows producers to earn a decent income.

VEJA pays 50% of the harvest to support the communities in advance.

Even with the COVID19 pandemic, we have ensured the families that we will be purchasing the whole harvest signed in the contract.

Organic cotton stocked at ADEC

© Charlotte Lapalus

Dealing directly with ADEC allows us to cut out the middleman and thus increase producer income.

This year VEJA is paying R$ 24.77 per kilo of cotton, almost 50% more than the market price. ​

In 2021, we were paying R$ 18.72 per kilo of cotton, and in 2020 we paid R$ 17.94 per kilo.

The price of organic cotton is agreed upon in advance with the producers.

VEJA establishes a two-year contract guaranteeing the purchase of their organic cotton at a fixed price, which allows them to have visibility over 2 or 3 harvests, which is one of the problems of agriculture worldwide.

When a producer plants a cotton seed, he does not know how much he will sell the kilo of cotton from this seed.

These prices include a bonus to help them implement more agroecological and regenerative practices. ​

The certifications of our organic cotton

All cotton used by VEJA is certified. Cotton produced in Peru is certified organic according to European and American standards in addition to GOTS certification.

The cotton produced in Brazil is part of the Brazilian participatory guarantee system: a government-approved method in which small producers certify each other.

Pedro Jorge

Esplar founder, agro-ecology pioneer in Brazil since the 1970s

© Cédric Amiot

In order to improve our social and environmental impact, VEJA works with NGOs that provide support to cotton producers.

ESPLAR is a Brazilian NGO founded in 1974 based in Fortaleza, Ceará State.

ESPLAR agricultural engineers provide technical support to organic cotton producers and give them advice in the field to help them adopt agroecology and protect their harvests.

By introducing neem trees, for example, they created natural protection for cotton plants. The oil extracted from neem fruits provides a natural repellent against insects that attack cotton.

Diaconia is a Brazilian NGO founded in 1967. Diaconia works in several urban and rural areas to improve social and ecological conditions in the country. They provide technical support to associations, visiting the farms and instructing them on prices and methods to grow organic cotton.

Organic cotton during harvesting

2018

© Charlotte Lapalus

When VEJA purchases cotton, they typically deliver it in the form of large bales of cotton.

It is then shipped to a Brazilian factory for weaving.

The cotton purchased by VEJA is organic, but the dyes used for the canvas are not. However, VEJA uses conventional dyes that comply with safety regulations.

After transformation, this cotton is found in the majority of the VEJA styles.

For example, the canvas of our Nova-High style is made of 100% organic cotton.

2022 Spring - Summer lookbook

© Vincent Desailly

Peru

Biological cotton during harvest

Peru, 2018

© Arthur Wollenweber

Since 2017 we work with the farmers from Bergman Rivera located in the Chincha region, Peru.

Bergman Rivera started in 1986 as a pioneer company in organic agriculture. Today, they work with more than 200 families, growing organic cotton thanks to water coming from the Andean mountains.

Chincha province provides cotton with a minimum environmental impact as it is handpicked and does not use any chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides.

Cotton from Peru is GOTS certified, which guarantees its traceability. It is also certified organic according to American and European standards.

Why use organic cotton?

VEJA uses fair trade organic cotton since most of the cotton produced every year worldwide comes from intensive monoculture crops.

Because of the heavy use of irrigation practices and massive quantities of pollutants, the environmental impact of this kind of industrial farming is disastrous.

Ceará landscape, 2016

© Ludovic Carème

What is regenerative agriculture?

The main objective of Regenerative Agriculture is to improve the soil and the natural landscape. It is based on traditional methods that improve biodiversity, sequester carbon into the soil, and optimize the water cycle.

These practices are based on traditional methods that enhance biodiversity, sequester carbon in the soil, and optimize the water cycle. They are similar to those of agroecology: both help preserves the soil while making it more fertile.

Cotton is organic, but the way it is grown goes even further.

Unlike intensive cotton farms, agroecological cotton is harvested in the same field as subsistence crops, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

It is cultivated with corn, sesame, rice, beans, pumpkins, and other crops. Each crop brings different natural inputs to the soil, which enriches it.

Maria Valdenira Rodrigues
VEJA agricultural engineer

2018

© Charlotte Lapalus

Maria Valdenira Rodrigues
and Sr Chiquinho, former ADEC treasurer

Ceará, 2016

© Studio VEJA

Maria Valdenira was born in a small village 180 km away from Fortaleza. The daughter of two farmers with limited means (her father could neither read nor write). She discovered agroecology when she was 27 during her agronomy studies.  

In 2007, during the first organic cotton fair in the Northeast region of Brazil, she met Ghislain and Sébastien who one year later asked her to supervise the "organic cotton" certification of their cotton.

Today, Val has her own team that helps her support around 914 organic cotton farming families in Brazil and Peru.

Ceará, 2016

This journal has been written by the cotton farmers themselves. In it, they write down their daily activity as well as the different multi-cropping systems they use to allow them to certify their cotton as organic and agroecological.