A New Hiking Shoe That’s Partly Bio-Based
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 very first technical hiking shoe.
Although Veja’s first styles were centered around everyday wear, their latest addition — the Fitz Roy— takes them into a whole new category, while keeping alive the commitment to use eco-friendly materials.
The shoe is named after Fitz Roy, a famous Patagonia peak, located on the border of Argentina and Chile, not far from where Veja sources its two core raw materials — natural Amazonian rubber and organic cotton.
While this shoe doesn’t feature the cotton (because it needs to be water-resistant out in the elements), it does include wild Amazonian rubber in its sole, a project that Veja has been intimately managing for over a decade.
In an effort to use natural materials, and support livelihoods, Veja works with seringueiros in the Amazon to get wild rubber from rubber trees that are native to the forest. It allows the seringueiros to earn an income and to keep the much beloved trees standing upright amidst the rise of timber harvesting and cattle rearing, which have been decimating the region.
This technical shoe was designed after a collaboration with Vibram, an Italy company known for their durable rubber soles. Hiking shoes need to be grippy and tough. Veja brought that balance together in a design that’s roomy, easy-to-wear, and ideal for expeditions.
Given that Veja co-founder Sebastien Kopp is not a fan of sustainability, but transparency, the materials used in the shoe are disclosed, down to the exact percentages so that consumers can know exactly what they’re getting — and Veja can be clear about how much “sustainable” material they’re actually using.
The uppers are made of 100% recycled polyester that is water-resistant but free of PFCs, chemicals that the outdoor industry has historically relied on to make their goods repel water.
The sole’s contents are broken down by its 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 nearly 50% (well 43% to be exact) bio-based. And Veja hopes to keep increasing that percentage with each passing year as innovations in renewable materials progress.
Entirely made in Brazil, like their other styles, the materials are transported to the company’s facility in Porto Alegre. From here on out, they’re shipped via sea (Veja abstains from air shipments because of the heavy carbon footprint).
Yes, it’s another hiking shoe in the crowded footwear market. But its origin story is certainly unique.
Ultimately, Veja continues to build out a profile of shoes that meet modern needs, and yet keep its goal towards building a more ecologically-friendly company at the forefront. And they’re first to admit, it’s not perfect—not yet, at least.