Are Veja Sneakers Worth the Hype? An HONEST Review

It’s about time that I write a Veja sneakers review. For over a year, my Veja sneakers have been worn almost daily—more than I can say about most shoes in my closet.

As much as I try to resist, I find myself mindlessly slipping on these shoes when running out the door time and time again. Hell, I’ve even planned work outfits around being able to wear these sneakers on days when stuffing my feet into pointed-toe stilettos sounds frankly bad for my mental and physical health.

Eva Phan wearing Veja Esplar sneakers.

I don’t even bother packing my Veja sneakers when I travel anymore because I just know that they’re going to be the only shoes that I want to wear at the airport, on the plane, train, bus, wherever. They’ve taken me around the world, to Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and beyond.

You get it—these are my go-to, all-terrain, all-occasion, everyday shoes.

Despite my compulsion to wear these shoes every chance I get, there are a few downsides to them that could definitely be a barrier to buying them (the comfort, for one). I’m covering everything in this honest Veja sneakers review: the good, the bad, and the kind of just okay.

Veja sneakers review.

What Are Veja Sneakers, and Why Are They Popular?

It all started in Paris in 2004 when Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion founded Veja as one of the world’s first sustainable sneaker brands. The pair had just met with organic cotton farmers and Amazonian wild rubber tappers in Brazil, where all of the brand’s production would take place.

Though the brand quickly had several high-profile collaborations after its inception, it would be over a decade before Veja was a household name internationally. In the late 2010s, the brand’s recognition picked up rapidly after celebrities like Emma Watson and Meghan Markle were spotted in Veja sneakers.

Today, Vej sneakers are instantly recognizable on sidewalks all over the world, thanks to the iconic “V” logo that decorates all of the brand’s styles. The white leather sneakers are easy to find, and sold at popular department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue, plus on resale platforms like eBay and Vestiare Collective for a discount.

Woman wearing Veja sneakers with jeans and an embellished sweater.

Veja Sneakers Quality

“Veja” translates into “look” from Brazilian Portuguese. As in, look beyond the design, to how Veja sneakers are made.

To its credit, Veja mostly lives up to its name on the quality front. I’ve worn my Veja Esplar Sneakers almost daily for over a year, and they’re still just as sturdy as when I took them out of the box.

The sneakers are easy to clean and wipe down, and despite being worn in all weather conditions (rain, snow, hail—you name it), they don’t have any visible unraveling or holes. Compared to my other leather sneakers, they don’t crease as much, either.

My only small quality gripe with Veja is that accent paint comes off easily. I’ve never had an issue with paint scuffing on the shoe’s main white base, but the details, like the “V” logo and heel tab, are a different story.

Some Veja sneaker styles have rubber Vs, while others are painted leather or punctured into the shoe. On my Veja Esplars, the “V” is leather and the paint rubs off with wear. Half the Veja logo has rubbed off over time on the heel tab, while the paint on the “V” is easily scuffed.

Woman wearing Veja Esplar Sneakers.

Are Veja Sneakers Comfortable?

Don’t expect your Veja sneakers to be as comfortable as those Adidas Stan Smiths or Nike Air Force 1 ‘07s. Veja shoes are stiffer and harder than many of the best white leather sneakers on the market. They are totally flat and don’t have any arch support, so you’ll need to add your own inserts if you need it.

Personally, I find my Veja sneakers comfortable. It took a long time to break them in, but now that they are, I can spend entire days walking in them. My Veja Esplar Sneakers are my go-to for travel and errands for how they balance comfort and style.

Breathability could be greatly improved. My feet typically don’t sweat, but after a long day of walking around in Veja sneakers, I find the opposite.

I do miss the cushy, pillowy soles of my old Adidas Superstar Shoes from time to time, even if they aren’t quite as chic as Veja. If you have a tendency for sweaty feet or have sensitive feet and struggle with a harder shoe, Veja sneakers are probably not for you.

If you’re concerned about Veja sneakers’ comfort, try the Veja Campo as your first shoe style from the brand. The Campo is known for having a padded tongue and thicker, more supportive soles than the Veja Esplar and Veja V-10.

Pros: What I Liked

Even though I do have more comfortable sneakers, I still find myself reaching for my Veja shoes most often when I’m leaving my apartment. Their sleek design makes it easy for them to fit into almost any everyday situation in the city and neutral colors match almost everything I own.

  • Timeless, minimalist design
  • Well-constructed
  • Consistent sizing
  • Thick, sturdy leather
  • Easy to wear for travel and daily errands
  • Polished enough to be worn to work
  • Available shoe styles match nearly everything
  • Widely available from several retailers

Cons: What I Didn’t Enjoy

There aren’t a lot of Veja sneaker cons, but the time required to break in the shoes and how stiff they are are big ones. If these shoes were just a little softer and cushier, they’d be perfect.

  • Long break-in process
  • Shoe soles are hard
  • No arch support
  • Long shoe tongues
  • Shoes are not very flexible
  • Easily scuffed
Veja Esplar sneakers.

Pricing

Veja sneakers are in a sweet spot. On average, the shoes cost $150 to $175. They’re not inexpensive but don’t exactly have a luxury price tag, either.

The shoes’ moderate price point makes them feel like a worthwhile spend, especially if you plan on making them an everyday staple in your wardrobe. After wearing and loving my Vejas for so long, I really feel like they’re priced fairly for their quality, durability, and environmentally friendly production.

Of course, spending $150 on a pair of sneakers isn’t realistic for everyone. You can easily find past-season Veja sneakers on sale at major retailers, especially around gifting holidays and when seasons change. Discount retailers such as Cettire and Yoox tend to keep Veja sneakers on sale year-round.

If you’re open to the idea of wearing preloved shoes, resale platforms like eBay and Poshmark are amazing places to find discounted Veja sneakers. On these platforms, you can also track down hard-to-find styles and colors—Veja’s most popular shoes sell out quickly.

Are Veja Sneakers True to Size?

Veja sneakers are generally true to size. Veja sizing can be a little confusing because the brand converts European sizes one size above US sizes, which can lead to them leaning on the large side. For example, a women’s US 7 is usually an EU 37, but in Veja shoes, a US 7 is an EU 38.

I recommend taking your regular size and sizing down later if needed. Veja doesn’t make half-sizes and, in my opinion, runs a little small by European sizing standards, which can make sizing down from your US size feel a little too tight.

I’m usually a US women’s 6.5 or 7 and take a size 7 in my Veja sneakers.

Woman wearing white Veja Esplar sneakers in Platine.
The Veja Esplar’s thinner sole makes them a little sleeker than the Veja Campo and Veja V-10 sneakers.

Veja Campo vs. Veja Esplar Sneakers

The Campo, Esplar, and V-10 are the most popular Veja shoe styles. Though all three styles look relatively similar, they feel very different.

Veja Campo Sneakers have a thicker sole than the Esplars. It’s not quite a platform sole, but similar to it. The Campos are often regarded as the most comfortable Veja shoes because they have a padded tongue and the thicker sole allows for better support and a little extra cushion. They also tend to be more breathable than other styles.

Veja Esplar Sneakers have a slightly lower profile and thinner soles than the Campo. They’re the sleekest of Veja’s collection, in my opinion. The tongue is not padded, which some wearers find uncomfortable because Veja shoes are known for having long tongues that can cut into your ankle. It took me a little while to get used to this, but after the shoes broke in, it wasn’t an issue.

Veja V-10 Sneakers are the sportiest of the three. Considering the wedge sole and design that plays off a running shoe, you’d think that the V-10s would be the most comfortable, but actually, these shoes are pretty stiff straight out of the box. When they do break in, they become much softer.

Shoe Materials

Veja sneakers are typically made of either regular leather or the brand’s signature ChromeFree leather. The regular leather is sourced from Uruguay and tanned in Brazil, while the ChromeFree leather hails from farms in Southern Brazil.

As its name suggests, ChromeFree leather is tanned without the presence of chrome, heavy metals, and dangerous acids. This process reduces tanning water use by 40% and also limits energy consumption.

The shoe’s finish will tell you the difference between the two. Veja’s regular leather is perfectly smooth, while the ChromeFree leather has a slightly cobbled texture.

For accents, Veja uses its ChromeFree leather or recycled Amazonian rubber. Soles are made purely of recycled Amazonian rubber also, while shoelaces are made of organic cotton.

Woman styling Veja sneakers in a casual outfit with jeans and a sweater.

Are Veja Sneakers Sustainable?

Staying true to its beginnings, Veja is still an environmentally friendly sneaker brand. If it’s any proof, the company became B Corporation certified in 2018, and the watchdog group Good on You gives the brand a “good” sustainability rating.

Veja still ethically and sustainably manufactures all of its sneakers in Brazil. Plastic water bottles are collected in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and then transformed into sneaker soles. Major strides have been made to reduce water usage and the presence of harmful chemicals in the tanning and manufacturing process, which are typically notorious for both.

To support its textile manufacturing, 320 farming families collaborate with Veja and ESPLAR, an NGO, to adopt agroecology farming. Veja negotiates prices up front with farmers so they know exactly how much they will be paid over the next two years.

Transparency is key to Veja’s sustainability efforts. Holding itself to the meaning of its name, Veja invites the public to look past its sneakers and into its manufacturing process by publishing sustainability reports, its contracts with its farmers, and compliance certificates.

The brand is so committed to transparency that they also a cost comparison public between what they pay in Brazil vs. quotes from China.

I’ve reviewed sustainable affordable luxury companies previously such as NAADAM and Ana Luisa, and so far, Veja’s efforts are the most impressive.

How to Break In Veja Sneakers

It took me weeks to break my Veja sneakers. Even after religious use for over a year, they’re still much stiffer and less flexible than other white leather sneakers I own.

Anyone who tells you that it just takes a day or two of wearing your shoes around the house to break them in within their Veja sneakers review is lying, not remembering the process accurately, or has feet of steel.

Living in New York City, I walk absolutely everywhere. This is exactly what I did with my Veja sneakers after buying them. For the first two weeks, my feet easily got blisters from the shoes (no small feat, considering my permanent pointe shoe calluses). A friend in the city warned me of this before I got them, and she wasn’t kidding.

Within a couple of weeks, my shoes started softening up, but it wasn’t until about a month of frequent, consistent, all-day use that I really felt my Veja sneakers were totally broken in.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did. You can make breaking in your Veja sneakers easier with the following tips:

  • Wear low-rise socks, not  no-show sock liners
  • Unlace the top two holes of your shoes
  • Fold the tongue under the laces
  • Stuff the shoes with socks or wear thick socks then blow dry them on low heat to stretch areas that feel tight
  • Do not take these shoes on vacation or out for a full day before a couple weeks of breaking them in

The Bottom Line: Are Veja Sneakers Worth It?

Veja sneakers are definitely worth it. They’re well-priced for the quality and make an honest effort to be sustainable. You can buy these sneakers knowing that you’re getting a fair deal on an elevated everyday essential and are minimizing your environmental impact.

As I mentioned in this Veja sneakers review, the brand does have a few things to work on (the stiffness and comfort being the biggest), but overall, the pros outweigh the cons and it lives up to the hype.

I’ve taken my Veja sneakers around the world—India, Morocco, Brazil, Turkey, France, Uzbekistan, and the like. They always blend in perfectly and have held up extremely well despite hundreds of miles of walking. As my current pair has started to see better days, I’m sure a fresh pair of the popular tennis shoes is in my near future.

Veja Sneakers Review: FAQ

Where are Veja sneakers on sale?

Backcountry, Cettire, Nordstrom, REVOLVE, Saks Fifth Avenue, Shopbop, and Yoox frequently stock Veja sneakers on sale. Get the biggest discount by shopping around holidays and when seasons change.

Are Veja sneakers considered luxury?

Veja’s elevated but attainable price point makes the brand an upscale contemporary, but not quite luxury like other brands known for sneakers such as Golden Goose and Common Projects.

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