I was excited to try these trendy running shoes—but they were a let down
There are brands I love, and then there are brands I love. One that falls into the latter category is Veja. I first discovered the French footwear retailer via Meghan Markle, who wears its sneakers on the regular. And if a pair of Veja sneakers gets me one metaphorical step closer to meeting my own Prince Harry, I was willing to buy them.
Buy them, I did—two pairs, in fact. The sleek Esplars are my “fancy” sneakers, which I wear to bars and on dates—not with Prince Harry, sadly—while the chunkier V-10s are my “casual” sneakers, which I wear almost every day to the gym. I’ve become somewhat of a Veja evangelist, telling everyone I know—and even some I don’t (hello, random stranger at the squat rack!)—how much I love the shoes.
So when I had the opportunity to test out Veja’s popular running shoes, how could I say no? I might not run, but I work out daily, walk upwards of 10,000 steps a day—I live in downtown Baltimore—and, as mentioned, am obsessed with all things Veja. Would the Veja Condor live up to its predecessors—and be worth its $170 price tag? I was certain it would, but needed to see for myself.
What I like about the Veja running shoes
The moment I took the shoes out of the box, I was not prepared for how lightweight they were, at least in comparison to my other Vejas. The Condors weigh 11 ounces—my V-10s weigh over a pound. Wearing the Condors felt like wearing a heavier sock—they may not be as light as some Nike running shoes, but they’re lighter than the average sneaker.
I also like the upper’s breathable mesh. I wore these shoes for multiple 45- to 60-minute walk/runs in 90-degree heat and, while my feet were sweaty, they weren’t swampy or overheated. The mesh allowed my feet to air out as I walked and ran and the shoes dried within 30 minutes of taking them off.
The foam sole provides ample cushioning, too, so my feet felt well supported during all of my activities. I didn’t experience any pain or blistering, and I could wear them for hours on end without any discomfort. Rather than feeling like I was pounding pavement, I felt like I was running around on a squishy floor, which was much appreciated. The laces stayed tightly tied and the collar provided more than enough support for my ankles so I never felt unstable.
I got the shoes in the limited-edition Jolie Foulee style, which is inspired by the popular French runner and features a vibrant purple/teal gradient across the upper. I love the colorful design and the way it contrasts with the bright white sole and Veja’s signature “V” on the side. The shoes are sleek and look crisp and clean.
Another highlight of the Condor running shoe is Veja’s efforts at sustainability. Veja claims this shoe is made entirely of recycled materials. The mesh and lining are made of recycled plastic bottles while the sole is made of recycled rubber. If eco-friendly fashion is something you’re interested in or passionate about, this could be a big draw.
What I don’t like about the Veja running shoes
I ordered the Condor shoes in a size 9, a half-size up from my usual 8.5. (I prefer my sneakers to err on the looser side.) I expected them to be roomy—but I found them tight. It took me a solid five minutes of adjusting the laces to even be able to stuff my foot inside. The shoes loosened up after a few wears, but for the first couple of times, they felt much smaller than a size 9.
The Condors also have a very thick sole, at just over one inch high. I’m all for chunky shoes, but I’m not sure I want a noticeable platform when I’m running or power walking. Scratch that—I know I don’t want that. I wasn’t a big fan of the added height of the sole despite the fact that it provides extra cushioning. It was a little much for me.
Are Veja running shoes worth buying?
I want to say that everything from Veja is 1,000% worth buying—because up to this point, it has been. And while I don’t hate the Condor running shoes, I don’t love them either. Most of this is due to personal preference: I like a looser fit and a lower sole. If you prefer something snugger and more elevated, I have nothing negative to say about these. They’re comfy and lightweight and look stylish—they come in a variety of colors, from the bright ombre pair I own to more minimalist ivory and black options.
That said, at $170 per pair, they’re much more expensive than the average running shoe. And given that I’m not obsessed with them—and that they have a few fit and performance issues—I’m not sure they’re worth spending the extra money on.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.