As far as foods go, corn is pretty damn versatile. Considered both a vegetable and a grain depending on when it’s harvest, it takes on many forms — whether in air-popped form at the cinema, a buttered-up corn on the cob or in our cereal. But if there’s one place we never thought we’d see corn, it’s in our wardrobes. Alas, French brand Veja has managed to transform into an athleisure staple, using the plant to create one seriously stylish pair of sustainable sneakers.
Veja’s Campo shoes are crafted from CWL, a bio-sourced material that’s also 63% biodegradable. “Campo is made from a canvas waxed with 50 percent corn waste from the food industry—the husks that humans do not eat—mixed with polyurethane,” explains Veja’s co-founder Sébastien Kopp. Alongside co-founder François Morillion, Kopp discovered the innovative material at an Italian factory after spending 5 years researching vegan leather alternatives.
Looking at the chic kicks, you’d never know they were anything other than leather. According to Kopp, it mimics the feel, too. “It feels incredibly similar to leather in terms of touch and elasticity. It’s hard to believe it isn’t the real thing.” But if you’re thinking the may not be as durable as your favourite leather sneakers, think again. The corn-derived material is actually tougher than animal hide, as well as easier to keep clean. “We believe it is going to be more durable than traditional leather, which is quite a fragile material,” Kopp says.
This isn’t the first time Veja has ventured into sustainable materials—their other shoes are crafted from recycled and fairly traded cotton for the canvas and plastic bottles. But while this all sounds pretty innovative, the founders say they’re just getting started.
“Launching the Campo is not the end of the development process, rather, it’s only the beginning, as we continue to make improvements to aspects like sourcing,” they told Well+Good. Given that Veja counts celebs like Emma Watson and Meghan Markle among their fans, we’d say it’s only a matter of time become these corn sneakers go mainstream.
The Campo sneakers will set you back $142 and come in white with coloured accents—you can choose from rust red, mustard, navy and dove grey. You can shop them here.