The ins and outs of collaborating with a big brand

Lionel Jagorel is co-founder of Parisian running community Jolie Foulée. In 2020, the group worked alongside French sneakers brand Veja to create the Condor 2 running shoe. Here Lionel outlines how the collab went down.
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First contact

‘I used to work for a fashion company and during those days I met Sébastian [Kopp, co-founder of Veja]. Two years later, the running division was developed at Veja and he was searching for people to collaborate with. He knew I was involved in Jolie Foulée and asked us if we would be interested. We’d collaborated on events or testing products with many brands, but nothing as big as creating our own shoe. Obviously we were very excited because we’re not so famous. It was a good opportunity and meaningful as Jolie Foulée and Veja are both from Paris.’ 

The idea

‘The trainers were their idea. Veja is not known for running and that’s why they wanted us to help them make a shoe. They sent us some pairs of their first running shoe so we could test it. Sébastian told us: “If you like it, we’ll see if we can do something together.”’

The process  

1. ‘At first, it was just testing and feedback but quite naturally and quickly it turned into a collaboration.’

2. ‘The next step was meeting with Veja’s creative team at their headquarters. They explained what they were looking to produce and asked us to create a mood board.’ 

3. ‘We met again with the designers who had come up with several options. We discussed what we preferred and they produced the first trainer sample.’ 


‘The team at Veja were super-cool in listening to all our requests. But on some points they had their image and we had ours and it was about finding the balance. We’re a lot more ironic and provocative, and that’s something we had to compromise on. We wanted to have something written on the sole and they told us it was a bit too much for their clients. We understood that from a business point of view. When you’re working with a brand, you can’t have the same tone as when you’re just saying things to a group of friends.’

The end results

‘Any time that we saw a sample, we were happy and they were also happy because maybe it was a bit more special than what they do usually. Their PR division spoke to journalists about the collaboration and we also have a lot of contacts, so we worked together to make a big launch. They brought us a lot of exposure and, in turn, I think we brought them a lot of credibility.’ 

What they wanted in a collaborator 

‘It’s easy to know if the brand isn’t right. If it’s a brand we love and we’re wearing in our normal life we say yes; if the brand doesn't inspire us we say no. We’ve refused a lot of brands whose audiences don’t match with Jolie Foulée. We want to stay authentic – we don’t do things for money. We gave the money from the Veja collaboration to an NGO.’

This article was first published in Courier issue 42, August/September 2021. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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