All About the French Sneakers Meghan Markle Laced up Down Under

Photo: Getty Images/Chris Jackson
She's only been the Duchess of Sussex for a few months, but Meghan Markle is already a bona fide influencer. People are curious about what she puts in her easy banana bread recipe, her cold-busting travel hackswhat she wears to the gym, the secret to her signature messy bun...This list goes on.

So, when she showed up for a sailing trip in Australia on October 21 wearing a pair of sneakers, inquiring minds immediately wanted to know one thing. Who made those shoes? Her sneakers of choice were the Esplar leather low-tops in white and black from Veja, and the ecofriendly French brand is already feeling the Markle effect. "When Meghan wore the [sneakers], our Instagram 'broke down,'" says Sebastien Kopp, Veja's co-founder. "We got thousands of likes and comments. A lot of people were looking for the pair she was wearing—and a lot of people discovered our project thanks to her."

Megan Markle Veja sneakers
Photo: Veja

You see, Veja doesn't just make chic sneakers that are an ultra-cool alternative to a Stan Smith (IMO). Kopp and his co-founder François-Ghislain Morillion have built their 14-year-old brand to be socially responsible at every stage of production. They use raw materials from organic farms, apply fair-trade practices to both their sourcing and manufacturing, use recycled cotton, plastic, and leather, and—ready for this one—don't advertise.

Not advertising is a big deal because "70 percent of the cost of a normal big sneaker brand is related to advertising," says Kopp. "Eliminating ads, marketing costs, brand ambassadors, and billboards means we can invest in our employees, our materials, our factories, and our planet."

Kopp says the company's grown organically mainly from word of mouth. "Many of our customers care about the why and how of their purchases—they want to support companies that have their same values," he says. This includes famous footwear fans like Emma Watson, Marion Cotillard, and Emily Ratajkowski, as well as celeb stylists such as Kate Young who works with Michelle Williams, Selena Gomez, and Rachel Weisz. And now, of course, Markle, who Kopp says wasn't gifted her sneakers (which cost $114) by the brand, btw.

"We’re guessing Meghan bought her Vejas, and see this from a lot of celebrities, which is cool and means they genuinely like the shoes," Kopp says. I'd go an, ahem, step further and say they also like what they stand for, too.

It's not the first time Markle's used her publicity to draw attention to causes she cares about. Recently, she published a cookbook to empower women

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