Veja performance trainers: form or function?

Veja performance trainers Condor

You should by now be no stranger to Veja. You know, the cult French eco-trainer brand seen on every tastemaker of note, recognised by its minimalist white V10 sneakers with the distinctive V logo. There was a good piece in the FT recently (sub req*) on how the brand rose to €60 million turnover.

But two things jumped out at me.

“We don’t analyse the data,” said Veja co-founder Sébastien Kopp. “When you analyse the past, you are not looking at the future.” He mentions this nugget in relation to not realising how big the brand had grown until he started to see the shoes everywhere. I can understand not analysing data if you’re a tiny one-man band, but for a 14-year-old company, I was pretty surprised. [UPDATE: I’ve had a Twitter chat with Kopp, who clarified that he wasn’t referring to sales date in his quote but marketing data.]

Veja has just entered the $181bn performance wear market, competing against the likes of Nike and Adidas with its first ever technical running shoe**, a move which has proved to be quite the learning curve. Making their ‘post-petroleum’ Condor running shoes, they claim “nothing is for design as every gramme is expensive in running,” suggesting that aesthetics aren’t important in performance wear and also that ‘design’ is only about visual appeal.

I’m hoping some meaning was lost in linguistics because for me, design is about function first and aesthetics second. But even if it’s the case that most modern performance wear is pretty fugly (I concur), there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be challenged. In fact if you look at performance wear from the past, it was as beautiful as it was functional.


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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Veja performance trainers
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