Story

Organic cotton, the raw material of the future ?

The organic cotton used by VEJA is made by farmer associations in Brazil and Peru that harvest it with respect for people and the environment.

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Wata White Masala

WATA launched in 2016, canvas and lining made entirely from organic, agro-ecological, and fair trade cotton.

Organic cotton is purchased by VEJA directly, respecting fair trade principles, before it is woven into the canvas and uppers used in many VEJA models.

265 tons of organic cotton since 2004

Since launching the VEJA project in 2004, more than 265 tons of organic and fair trade cotton were purchased directly from many producer associations located around Tauá in the state of Ceará in the Northeast region of Brazil.

map

The VEJA organic cotton production chain

Ecological sneakers, made with raw materials from organic and agro-ecological agriculture, without chemicals or polluting processes.

In 2015, the region suffered a drought that killed all the cotton flowers. To deal with this shortage, we used recycled cotton to make our shoes.

For 2018, we bought, in advance, 27,000 kg of cotton produced by nearly 200 families in Brazil.

Photo Ludovic Carème

Organic cotton after harvesting. Ceará, 2016

© Ludovic Carème

photography

Organic coton bought

(kg per year)

Amount of organic coton bought per year (in kg)

Organic coton acquisition forecast per year (in kg)

Poids(kg)010,00020,00030,00040,00050,00060,00070,00080,00090,000100,000110,00020062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019

Working Directly With Producers

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

ADEC (Associação de Desenvolvimento Educacional e Cultural de Tauá) one of our producer association with which we've been working for over 14 years in the Northeast region of Brazil.

Chiquinho & Lino, trésorier et président

Chiquinho and Lino ADEC treasurer and president, Ceará, 2016

© Ludovic Carème

In 2018

We paid for a kilo of organic cotton

2,82 €

The global average was

1,73 €

We paid nearly 63% more than market price

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

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

This price covers agro-ecological cotton production costs and allows producers to earn a decent income.

A 0,2€ fair trade premium per kilo is also paid to the association at the end of the harvest. This premium is pooled and allows associations to fund themselves.

In 2007 and 2009, it was used to pay for organic and fair trade certifications, such as the IBD label.

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

© Cédric Amiot

Coton au moment de la récolte

Cotton during harvest Ceará, 2016

© Ludovic Carème

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

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

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

When VEJA buys the cotton, it's usually delivered in the form of large cotton bales.

When VEJA buys the cotton, it's usually delivered in the form of large cotton bales.

It is then shipped to a Brazilian factory for weaving.

Wata Black Pierre

Wata White Marsala Lookbook, Spring-Summer 2017
Centre National de la Danse

© Vincent Desailly

The cotton purchased by VEJA is organic, but the dyes used for the canvas are not. However, they respect the European REACH standards.

We purchased more than 89 tons of cotton in 2018. After transformation, it ends up in most VEJA models. For example, that's what the canvas in our Wata models is made of.

Wata Black Pierre

Wata Black Pierre Lookbook, Spring-Summer 2017
Centre National de la Danse

© Vincent Desailly

Why use organic cotton ?

VEJA uses fair trade organic cotton since the majority of cotton produced every year in the world 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

« Mixed farming provides food independence and maintains nutrient balance in cultivated land. »

Maria Valdenira Rodrigues

VEJA agricultural engineer, Ceará, 2016

© Ludovic Carème

photo

Maria Valdenira Rodrigues
and Sr Chiquinho, ADEC treasurer
Ceará, 2016

© Studio VEJA

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

That way, the cotton is integrated into corn, sesame and bean crops, which is what the producers' diet mainly consists of.

photo

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 agro-ecology at the age of 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, a year later, asked her to be in charge of the "organic cotton" certification of their cotton.

Since then, she's been working for VEJA and provides support to organic cotton producer associations.