I didn't appreciate the value of comfortable shoes until I turned 26. Before then, I walked around New York City exclusively in a pair of high-heeled Chelsea boots. Before long I ended up with several fractured bones in my foot, and my doctor blamed my shoes. Turns out you should change up your footwear more often. Lesson learned: I needed to find a pair of comfortable yet chic sneakers to wear instead.
On my search for the perfect pair, I tried out several popular styles, like the Adidas Superstar shell-toe and the Nike Cortez. They had the "elevated" part down with their minimal color-block designs, but they never really stood up over time. (I walk a lot.) I needed to buy a new pair every three or four months, which was an inconvenience for my wallet (not to mention terrible for the environment). So I started to research brands that might be more sustainable. That's when I came across Veja, an ethical footwear brand that has developed a cult following.
I'd scrolled by actors (like Emma Watson and Emily Ratajkowski) and influencers (like Jacey Duprie from Damsel in Dior) alike sporting the same minimal sneakers on Instagram without tapping "purchase." What finally convinced to buy my own? A royal Veja spotting. After I saw Meghan Markle break out her Veja sneakers during her Australian tour with Prince Harry last year, I decided I must have them in my life.
I've always been a fan of Markle's laid-back style and admire how she uses her spotlight to promote smaller, eco-friendly brands. She wore her Vejas with a casual black top and jeans, somehow looking much more stylish than I do when I roll down the street to get my coffee on the weekends. If these sneakers are good enough for a duchess, I thought, then they’re certainly good enough for me. Unfortunately, the rest of the world felt that way too. The shoes were sold out nearly everywhere I looked—both in store and online.
Fast-forward a few weeks. After searching and searching, I hit the jackpot when I found them restocked in my size at Nordstrom. I chose Veja's Espalar style for its minimal black-and-white design and ordered them immediately. Because they're so simple, they go with everything from long flowy dresses to a jeans and a blazer. I never think twice about wearing them to work, even at a fashion-forward office like Glamour's.
It's not just that Veja sneakers are comfortable and versatile. I can feel good wearing them knowing that they were ethically made, which can't be said for all sneakers. Veja sources cotton directly from fair-trade-certified farming associations in Brazil and Peru, while the leather is upcycled from leftover tilapia on fish farms.
My Vejas have just one minor downside: It took a couple of wears to break them in. (Tip: Don't wear them barefoot right out of the box.) The effort paid off, though. These days it feels like I’m walking on clouds. My feet never get tired, even after wandering around the city for 20K steps or more. All that walking hasn't dulled their shine, either. With the help of a Magic Eraser, my Vejas stay spotless—perfect for a clean-sneaker snob like me.
Thanks to Duchess Meghan Markle, I've been united with the perfect pair of sneakers. It's been only six weeks and I'm already screaming about my love for Veja from the rooftops. (And from my Instagram, of course.)
Buy now: Vejas Espalar Sneakers, $120, Nordstrom
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Michaela O'Shaughnessy is the senior social media manager at Glamour. Follow her @lifeofaladybear.