Ethical fashion and environmental innovators Veja has taken its first steps into the world of running with the Condor. As purveyors of ethically made, sustainable footwear, Veja’s innovative approach has won over the hearts and soles of many on its mission to make fashionable and eco-conscious shoes.
Now, the brand is taking strides into new categories by launching its very first running shoe. As an avid runner, I laced up and tried these new kicks over the course of three months and many miles to review the Veja running shoes.
What activities are the Veja Condor good for?
On first impression, the Condors are a good-looking shoe. I opted for the white colourway with a colour pop of a fluorescent orange signature “V” on the side panel. By appearance, they look like an ideal shoe to take you from training to errands in town. Has Veja struck gold with a shoe that could perform and also look smart?
As a running shoe, the Condor is a substantial 315g with a 10mm drop. The upper, composed entirely of Alveomesh (100% plastic bottles) offers pleasant breathability despite its plastic makeup, and provides enough structure in knit to keep the foot secure through every stride.
Through some sorcery Veja blended banana oil, sugar cane, rice husk, and 55% regular E.V.A. to make up the midsole. The support is in a mould designed to mimic the porous bones of this bird of flight’s namesake.
I found it was unlike any midsole foam I’d come across before. It was a bit heavier than appearance led me to think, and I was surprised to find it offered little flexibility.
This alone wasn’t a problem though, and in some cases could be a real asset for those seeking a stability shoe. The rubber blend outsole had excellent grip, enforcing its case as a good stability shoe option for a variety of terrains.
During my trial of these running shoes, I wore them predominantly through training runs of 10 kilometres or shorter. Due to the Condor’s weight and level of responsiveness, this is the zone in which I felt the shoe performed best.
I kept the routes to paved city roads – perhaps in part, being a bit precious about my choice in white colourway. Thanks to their grippy tread on the outsole, these would also do well on non-technical trails i.e. through dirt roads in your nearby park.
The Condors quickly became a go-to for my gym activities thanks to their stable midsole and flat outsole. I felt stable in all gym activities from strength training to HIIT, and found myself reaching for them session after session.
Not to harp on the grip too much, but I did feel these shoes had a great harmony with the treadmill. Maybe it was something about the rubber, the tread pattern, or total placebo, but these shoes played nicely with treadmills even at incline.
In short, these are a great option for shorter runs and studio-based training.
Are Veja running shoes sustainable?
It took Veja four years of research and development to make their first running shoe. It comes with all the ecological and ethical transparency that has become synonymous with the brand. Today, the Condor is 53% natural-based and recycled materials.
The brand claims that most running shoes made today are 99% plastic – specifically a polymer that is 99% petroleum-based. In a category so dominated by one material, Veja have done things differently.
They are pushing the boundaries of running shoe design and utilising a natural solution that can perform when pounding the pavement. This blend of environmentally conscious materials weave together into what the team at Veja proudly call the world’s first “post-petroleum” running shoe.
While the movement away from petroleum-based materials is a game changer in itself, Veja recognises there is still work to be done to make the Condor cleaner.
While 53% of the shoe is made from natural and recycled materials, the rest of its makeup is conventional ethylene-vinyl-acetate (E.V.A.). E.V.A. is commonly used in footwear for its shock-absorbent properties, but is not currently a widely recyclable material.
However thanks to the brands transparency on sourcing and materials, it is clear that they aim to improve their usage of sustainable materials in further iterations of design.
What are they made of?
- Upper: Alveomesh (100% recycled plastic bottles)
- Panels: T.P.U
- V: Pebax RNew (100% ricinus oil)
- Heel support insert: Pebax RNew (100% ricinus oil)
- Outsole: 30% wild rubber from Amazonia, 31% rice water, 39% synthetic rubber
- Midsole: 45% natural-based (banana oil, 22% sugar cane, 15% rice water) and 55% regular E.V.A.
- Insole: 8% recycled E.V.A., 12% wild rubber from Amazonia, 12% recycled bottles, 12% jute and 56% E.V.A.
- Lining: 33% organic cotton, 67% plastic bottles
- Laces and loops: 100% polyester
- L-Foam: Sustainable expanded latex cushion (50% natural latex, 50% synthetic latex)
Are they true to size?
Veja as a brand have been known to have variations of fit and size between styles. If you’re looking to lace up in the lifestyle trainers from Veja, be sure to check out this size guide.
As for the Condors, I found them to be true to size. I have a slightly wider foot, and sometimes experience problems finding trainers that won’t pinch my foot at the sides. This was not the case with the Condors.
The Alveomesh upper offered structure with just enough give for foot moment in stride. The laces felt pleasantly durable, and I felt totally secure tying them off and not worrying about my knot coming undone.
The toe box has just the right amount of space. I had about a 2.5cm between the end of my big toe and the end of the toe box, which is usually what feels right for me.
This is quite literally the rule of thumb many runners use when selecting trainers, to accommodate the natural swelling in the foot that occurs during activity.
Veja Condor verdict
The Veja Condor is a great shoe for new runners, or casual runners looking for a 5k spin around town or studio-based class. It’s got a clean design that makes it easy to transition from performance to on-the-go wear.
While the brand lists them as a neutral riding shoe, the supportive midsole and security offered in the upper could be enough to give stability shoe runners what they need too.
It’s an easy to wear shoe that doesn’t take much getting used to, and doesn’t require much breaking in. The 27mm heel height, 17mm forefoot height with a 10mm drop feels like a comfortable support rocking you forward with each step.
The excellent grip on the outsole makes the Condor a good option for runners seeking paved and dirt roads, but not technical trails.
The Condor is Veja’s first step into the running world. A concept four years in the making, it’s an exciting start for the brand in a new space. The trainer made of 53% natural-based materials is a hopeful indicator for more innovation in the category, away from petroleum.
It ticks all the boxes for Veja’s high standards of sustainability and ethical manufacturing. The Condor performs well in studios and on treadmills. It’s a solid option for new runners and runners cruising on routes around 5km-10km.