It's been a bit since the last time we checked in with Veja, the French maker of easy-on-the-earth, nice-to-the-workers, ever-so-fresh footwear. So it was gratifying to find they've not been asleep at the switch. As from the start, the company puts sincere emphasis on using ecological materials (organic cotton, tree-tapped rubber, and vegetable tanned leather), and ethical employment. The Veja line has grown considerably for men and women both, the website is thoroughly revamped, there's a new and quite irresistible hightop, a limited-edition fixed-gear cycling shoe, and the Veja family has been joined by a newborn line of bags.It's worth spending some time on Veja's site. The language is eloquent and seems to become more poetic in translation. For example: "Day after day, prophets of all kind are pulling the emergency cord, the entire economy is turning green and sustainable-developementising speeches are spreading around."
But Veja has been clearly working to give its customers more of a window into the way it does business, and you'll find out how the rubber is harvested from Brazil's Chico Mendes extractive reserve, about the 320 farming families that supply the organic cotton, and the sewing factory in Vale dos Sinos, where workers get overtime pay and the right to organize. Quick videos give a bit of visual insight into the process as well.
If you really want to go over the top with that ethical hipster thing you've been working on, Veja has just the ticket. They've linked up with Cyclope, "the first cycle shop in Paris to specialize in fixed-gear," and made a limited line of shoes specially designed for fixie riders. A limited run of 384 pairs will be available through Paper Scissors Stone in London.
I'm not so sure how convincing a fixie special is, however I've owned a pair of Vejas for about four years now and gotten many happy miles of cycling out of them (single-speed and otherwise), so you're not likely to be disappointed.