VEJA Launches 'Repair Shop' in Paris to Champion Sustainability and Customer Engagement

Jason Papp
March 25, 2024

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PARIS - According to VEJA, they've been creating sneakers in a different way, mixing social projects, economic justice, and ecological materials since 2005. VEJA’s newest repair shop in Paris, dubbed the 'General Store', is now open and it aims to extend the life of sneakers through repairs.

Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion, the two founders of VEJA, say, “When we started the VEJA recycling project, we realised we were missing something: people were throwing away their shoes when they were damaged or simply worn out. By collecting thousands of old sneakers, we realised a lot of them were repairable and cleanable.”

VEJA already has sections of its shops syphoned off for repairs in Berlin, Bordeaux, and Madrid, but Paris goes further.

Inside VEJA’s ‘General Store’ in Paris 

VEJA’s ‘General Store’ in Paris is a 100 square metre area dedicated only to repairing, not only VEJA’s sneakers but any brand of clothing. But this is no junkyard stack. It’s a minimalist space with a trendy art gallery feel to it, displaying the latest VEJA releases on well-placed shelving. But you cannot buy a single sneaker - or a pair for that matter. It’s all about promoting sustainability and a circular economy. Well, that’s what the VPs of Retail Design would have you think.

VEJA General Store, Paris - Photography courtesy of VEJA

VEJA’s Store Design Concept 

VEJA Store New York - Photography by Sergey Makarov
VEJA store Rue de Poitou, Paris - Photography by Thibault Charpentier

VEJA’s Strategy for Customer Retention 

Consider how many brands of sneakers you own. I have a few pairs of ASICS, a pair of Nikes, and a pair of suede Puma sneakers too. All have different roles in my daily activities. The point is, unless you’re a real sneakerhead, today brand loyalty isn’t a thing. Today brand loyalty is a rare commodity.

How do you maintain that deep connection with the consumer after they’ve either checked out online or in-store? Of course, it's an omnichannel, multi-faceted approach, but if you can encourage your consumers to head back into the store under the proviso of being that good sustainable cop then you’re deepening that relationship that could have been lost to another brand.

So, they’re in-store, injecting life back into their three-year-old VEJAs, or an item of clothing from any brand, and now they see the latest VEJA models that they cannot buy at the ‘General Store’.

VEJA’s newest convert is going to walk out of the store with their repaired blouse and beloved sneakers enjoying an extended lifespan with one thought in mind. ‘I am in-pocket, I’ve got a freebie,’ like they’ve profited from a visit to the store.

So what’s going to happen? They’ll buy a new pair. Especially if the visit to the repair store coordinates well with a personalised email from the brand’s marketing team to thank the consumer for their visit, itemise their reduction of waste to keep them engaged beyond the repair and a TikTok showing up in their feed. VEJA is selling the thing without selling the thing.

VEJA’s Economic Viability and Sustainable Practices 

The decision to keep repair rates low, as VEJA has done, makes the service accessible to a broader audience, encouraging more customers to opt for repairs over purchasing new items. While VEJA claims not to profit from the repairs, achieving a near-break-even point ensures the sustainability of the initiative from a financial perspective. This approach demonstrates that eco-friendly practices can be economically viable, challenging the notion that sustainability is always associated with higher costs.

VEJA’s repair shop doesn't limit its services to footwear; it also offers clothing repairs and personalisation services and sells a selection of care products and accessories. This diversification enhances the customer experience by providing a one-stop shop for maintenance and care, potentially increasing foot traffic and fostering a community around the brand's values.

Talking of community, read about Porsche’s new studio in Singapore

Why is VEJA so Expensive? 

According to VEJA, their sneakers cost them 5 times more to produce than their competitor brands. Why? It’s all in the materials they opt to use. 

VEJA uses fair trade and organic raw materials with a focus on a more ‘equitable economic approach for all stakeholders in the production chain.’ Research and new technologies play a role in their increased production cost, too.

Check out The VEJA Project.  

Sustainability as a Core Business Strategy

VEJA, as well as Patagonia and others, shows that integrating sustainability into the business model can enhance brand loyalty and attract a growing segment of eco-conscious consumers.

- Customer Engagement: Offering repair services engages customers beyond the initial purchase, creating long-term relationships and a community of brand advocates.

- Economic Strategy: Adopting a pricing strategy that balances affordability with cost recovery can make sustainable practices more widespread and accepted.

- Service Diversification: Expanding services to include a wide range of products and care options can enhance the customer experience and reinforce the authenticity of a brand's commitment to sustainability.

So, VEJA’s repair shop in Paris aligns with its sustainability goals but also offers a model for how fashion brands can contribute to a more sustainable future while maintaining economic viability and strengthening customer relationships beyond the initial purchase.

Other brands can learn from VEJA’s approach by integrating sustainability into their core values, innovating in customer service, and adopting economic models that support long-term viability and growth.

VEJA and Community Engagement with UGC  

VEJA could now encourage UGC in-store, collaborate with influencers (do not overlook micro-influencers) and offer authentic and relatable stories on socials that can establish a community of sustainability champions and amp brand love amongst niche communities and a new generation.

By taking such steps, VEJA not only fortifies its position as a leader in sustainable fashion but can engage with its customers and the environment in meaningful ways. This approach, blending innovation with sustainability and community engagement, provides a valuable blueprint for other brands aiming to make a positive impact in their industries and beyond.

VEJA Paris 'General Store' represents more than just a repair shop. As more brands look to integrate these values into their operations, VEJA’s example serves as an inspiring model of how to do so effectively and authentically.

Now let’s roll them out into more major cities with a mail-in repair option included. 

Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief