Veja has launched a sneaker designed in collaboration with Sea Shepherd, a non-profit marine conservation organization. The environmental org utilizes direct action to safeguard whales, dolphins and marine wildlife. Although this isn’t the first time Sea Shepherd has collaborated with a fashion brand, this is the first partnership for the French footwear brand with such a partner.
Sea Shepherd employs a fleet of ships on the frontlines of their oceanic fight, collaborating with local authorities to tackle illegal fishing and bring poachers to justice. The non-profit aims to draw attention to the unchecked that pillage and pollute the ocean.
The collaboration has revealed a totally black sea rover iteration of the brand’s Dekkan model. It’s made in Alveomesh, a technical fabric developed from 100% recycled polyester. This model is an outdoor, and adventurous style that has one of the brand’s most technical VIBRAM soles, which offers the shoe plenty of traction, making it perfect for adventures. In this model, 70% of the midsole is made from sugar cane, which offers a forceful grip, and the outsole is made from 30% Amazonian rubber and 5% rice waste.
While Sea Shepherd does have a more disagreeable reputation, including having been named an eco-terrorist organization in Japan, this is a matter of perspective, given that the whaling industry there is known for constantly violating international law.
“They are just telling the truth. They are called extremists — like investigative journalists are called extremists,” explained Veja’s Co-Founder & Creative Director Sèbastien Kopp to VOGUE Business. “When you denounce something that is true, you bother an industry. You know, when we set up Veja in 2004 with organic cotton, with wild rubber, everybody was laughing at us,” he says. “Maybe it’s going to put Veja at risk. But I think there are a lot of people who want more truth on the table.”
This collaboration isn’t a common one for Veja since it generally steers clear from working with NGOs due to concerns of appearing like it is participating in greenwashing. Talks for the project started back in 2020 and the hands-on qualities of Sea Shepherd’s work were what actually sealed the deal and pushed it through for Veja. During the collaboration, some Veja team members had the opportunity to head out on a mission with Sea Shepherd and got to witness their work up close.
“We had the chance to follow them on a mission, 400 miles from France, and we can add our testimony to the cause: we saw one trawler rejecting 3 tons of dead fish to be able to catch another group of fish. If people saw that, they would see fishing with different eyes. Sea Shepherd are whistleblowers, and we wanted to help with VEJA. Our work in Amazonia is very similar to what they do.”.
The development of the shoe aims to draw attention to the work the sea organization is doing and the profits from the sales of the shoe will all be heading back into Sea Shepherd. Depending on the public’s reaction this might just be the start of many collaborations to come from Veja.