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A new walking shoe that is partly bio-based

by Ana Lopez
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The Parisian brand that started with a vision to make a shoe entirely in Brazil using ethically sourced materials crossed another benchmark this week: it launched its first-ever technical hiking boot.

While Veja’s early styles focused on everyday wear, their latest addition — the Fitz Roy– takes them into a whole new category, while keeping the commitment to using eco-friendly materials alive.

The shoe is named after Fitz Roy, a famous peak in Patagonia, located on the border of Argentina and Chile, not far from where Veja gets its two main raw materials: natural rubber from the Amazon and organic cotton.

While this shoe doesn’t contain cotton (because it needs to be water-resistant in the elements), it does contain wild Amazon rubber in the sole, a project that Veja has closely supervised for over a decade.

In an effort to use natural materials and support livelihoods, Veja partners with seringueiros in the Amazon to extract wild rubber from rubber trees native to the forest. It leaves the seringueiros to earn an income and to keep the much-loved trees afloat amid the rise of timber harvesting and ranching, which have decimated the region.

This technical shoe was designed after a collaboration with Vibram, an Italian company known for their durable rubber soles. Hiking boots should be grippy and sturdy. Veja brought that balance together in a design that’s roomy, easy to carry and ideal for expeditions.

Since Veja co-founder Sebastien Kopp isn’t a fan of sustainability, but of transparency, the materials used in the shoe are revealed, down to the exact percentages, so consumers know exactly what they’re getting – and Veja can be clear about how much ‘sustainable’ material they actually use.

The upper is made from 100% recycled polyester that is water resistant but free of PFCs, chemicals the outdoor industry has traditionally relied on to make their goods water resistant.

The content of the sole is split into three layers. The insole has 12% Amazonian rubber and 47% sugar cane. The midsole has 50% sugar cane. And the outsole is 31% Amazonian rubber.

The entire shoe is almost 50% (well, 43% to be exact) biobased. And Veja hopes to continue to increase that percentage each year as innovations in renewable materials progress.

Entirely made in Brazil, like their other styles, the materials are transported to the company’s factory in Porto Alegre. From now on they will be shipped by sea (Veja refrains from air freight shipments due to its heavy carbon footprint).

Yes, it’s another walking shoe in the overcrowded shoe market. But the origin story is certainly unique.

Ultimately, Veja continues to build a profile of shoes that meet modern needs, while still maintaining the goal of bringing a more environmentally friendly company to the forefront. And they’re the first to admit it’s not perfect, at least not yet.

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