An eco-conscious shoe brand linking up with a historic taxidermy boutique may appear a controversial match. But it is, in fact, a perfect one. Veja, a fairtrade firm, works with cooperatives of small producers both in Brazil and France, while Deyrolle, founded in 1831, is a Parisian institution on an ecological mission too, leading the way in education on climate change and sustainable development issues.
In 2007, Deyrolle revived its tradition, established in the 19th century, of making beautifully executed natural-science posters and books as learning aids for schools. The wood-panelled shop on Rue du Bac has been an inspiration to artists since the days of surrealism, and today it is active in conservation, including being a partner of COP21, the UN’s Paris conference on climate change in 2015. Its exhibits are fully traceable (most animals have died of natural causes in zoos and parks) and have CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificates where necessary.
All this caught the eye of Sébastien Kopp, co-founder of Veja, the super-cool sustainable trainer brand. Designed in France, made in Brazil, Veja’s innovations mean its trainers and accessories are made of organic cotton, wild rubber from the Amazon and vegetable-tanned leather. Deyrolle’s exhibits and its strong links with entomology inspired Kopp and his team to create a new fabric for uppers, mixing natural silk made in Brazil with Lyocell, a renewable material extracted from eucalyptus wood cellulose. The resulting subtly sheeny fabric is printed with a flight of historic butterfly designs taken from Deyrolle’s archives, their rich colours enhanced by the silk. The collaboration includes three styles: a retro design and a chunkier, more modern shape for adults (both £150), while for children there is a Velcro-fastened trainer (from £75). This limited-edition range arrives online and in selected stores March 15.