Childhood friends Sebastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion founded sustainable shoe brand Veja in 2004, for which Kopp is the creative director and Morillion the sourcing director. The brand manufactures its products in Brazil, made from organic cotton, wild rubber and recycled polyester fabrics.
Kopp studied economics at the Université Paris Dauphine, while Morillion attended HEC Paris Business School between 1998 and 2002, studying International Finance, and the Institut Catholique de Paris between 2015 and 2019 to study Philosophy. The childhood friends first worked in banking for a few months in New York and Washington DC, and worked together at Tristan Lecomte’s Alter Eco, a brand that imports fair trade and organic food and drink products to France.
The pair left finance set up an NGO that took them to countries including China, Brazil, India and Bolivia to study projects about their CSR policies, reducing their environmental and sociological impact. Then, at the age of 25, they launched their sustainable footwear brand Veja in 2004. As of May 2019, 200 tonnes of the wild rubber they purchased in the Amazon rainforest has resulted in the preservation of around 90,000 acres of the rainforest.
The brand is sold in more than 40 countries and has sold 3 million of pairs of sneakers since 2003. It counts Net-a-Porter, MatchesFashion, Printemps and Moda Operandi among its stockists. Kobb and Morillion are building the brand organically, without raising funds through external investment.
In 2010, the pair also launched concept store Centre Commercial, which stocks men’s, women’s, kids and lifestyle lines in the store on the Rue de Marseille in Paris and online, as well as offering a space for product launches and events. The store sells brands that promote and champion transparency of production, as well as ecological and social issues, including Patagonia, Ami and Norse Projects .