No one who steps onto a boat today can be unaware of the manmade pollution that fouls the seas and threatens wildlife. Many organisations are trying to counteract this, and now one has come up with an ingenious way to contribute – super-cool, sustainable sneakers made using some of that waste.
The Wata trainer (£70) is the work of Veja, a company started 13 years ago by Sébastien Kopp, a former adviser to environmental NGOs, and François-Ghislain Morillion. The brand’s founding aim, says Kopp, was to “revolutionise and deconstruct the making of sneakers – items we all love and wear but that are so controlled by big brands. We wanted to do it sustainably, working with local communities on the raw materials, paying them a fair price and marketing the shoes by word of mouth with no advertising, to keep costs down.”
Two million pairs later, its philosophy has proved a success. Using materials such as low-chrome leather made from vegetable product or tilapia skin, organic cotton sourced from small farms or wild rubber sourced from six Amazon communities, Veja’s logo-free (apart from a subtle, integrated V) retro designs in muted colours have become a hipster favourite with exactly the right stockist list, from Colette and Alex Eagle to LN-CC and (from autumn) ethical website Gather & See.
Its latest research has produced the innovative B-Mesh fabric, made entirely from recycling the PET bottles that otherwise end up in floating dumps at sea, and its Wata special edition, launching online on June 7, uses B-Mesh in a cool washed blue, denim-like finish. The shoe is a limited edition collaboration with Surfrider Foundation Europe, a charity that fights pollution in all natural bodies of water and along coastlines. The two main pollutants, Surfrider says, are plastic bottles and cigarette butts, and the Wata sneaker is made from the former while its insole is printed with the latter, as a reminder.
Fresh-looking, retro-chic and unisex, the Wata will be the right-on accessory of the season at marinas from Brighton to the Bosphorus – £5 from each sale will go to Surfrider, and those cotton farmers get a fair price too.