Veja is growing its athletic credentials. The sustainable sneaker company launches its first high-performance running shoe today. Called the Marlin, the shoe — made from a variety of renewable materials — will be priced at $180 and is available on the brand’s site, as well as 150-plus global retailers including athletic stores like New York City’s Paragon Sports.
In 2019, Veja launched its first running shoe, but cofounder and creative director Sébastien Kopp said that style was a bit too heavy and soft for hardcore runners. Back to the drawing board they went, emerging with the Marlin — a more supportive and lighter-weight design.
“We are really glad, because we developed this between 2019 and 2020, which was a huge challenge with COVID-19 and our Brazilian team to develop this shoe. It’s a huge achievement for us and a big achievement for our Brazil team because their country is in really deep problems with COVID-19, so they are all very happy that we eventually launched this shoe,” he said.
Kopp said running appeals to the Veja brand ethos, “because for us it’s a sport, but it’s also a lifestyle. I think you reach a lot of people and it’s very much in line with what Veja is today. It’s not a big money sport with sponsorships and all that. It touches everyone. Also it’s a huge challenge for us to develop a more ecological running shoe.”
In his opinion, “Today there is almost no ecological running shoes on the market. I think for ages, running shoes have been linked to plastic and we wanted to propose something different.”
Kopp considers the Marlin’s sole to be its greatest technological achievement. “No one is talking about soles in the running world and how they are usually made from EVA, which is not so much of a nice material for the environment.”
The Marlin’s sole includes sugarcane, rice husk and banana oil. It still includes approximately 35 percent plastics — with the target to cut down on that number each season as the soles continue to see fine-tuned development. The shoe’s upper is made from knitted recycled PET and Pebax oil.
But for Kopp, “the perfect shoe was really a challenge for us. But it improves the whole Veja line — the comfort, the lightness and even the new raw materials. We have applied what we found in this R&D from running to our main line. It’s like Formula 1 for us how carmakers use Formula 1 as an arena for development and innovation, we do with running shoes R&D.”
The company’s first running shoe represented between 1 and 2 percent of overall sales in 2019, which has since grown to 5 percent. The goal is to see exponential growth in performance categories with the addition of new products.