Aurora James wants to introduce the rest of the world to her favorite African footwear. And wowsie, how she is doing that now - in runways big and bigger! The New York Fashion world is abuzz this month with her Brother Vellies designs - they’re blowing up the market as the chicest news around.
James also wants to give work to artisans in the slums of Nairobi as well as workshops in South Africa and Morocco and further train them with cobblers from Milan. She wants to recycle materials like the 500 million scrap tires that are piled in the US and make wonderful soles for shoes, or use the too-much denim donated to Morocco - in other words, she loves to make cool stuff from what the world has cast off.
She wants to use vegetable dyes on local kudu leather, since kudu herds are culled from overpopulation under a government mandate. And to use the fur of Springbok and rabbit, sourced from local farmers in Kenya and South Africa, entirely byproducts from the edible food industry.
All of this Aurora James is doing in a big beautiful way and after a summer of waiting our turn, Brother Vellies have finally arrived at ibu! Just in is the statement piece to love - the jardin babouche - which our team cannot seem to get out of - and in which, we determined, it is impossible to not feel happy! With jeans or with a caftan, you are a as comfy and coddled as that little elephant.
Also here, the Congo Sandal, sporting a flame of springbok up the ankle and lace up ties. Everybody’s business.
Finally, next week, we expect the sassy Zebra Karen Sandal, with horsehair ties and braided wraps. Both of the sandals make the transition into fall and are waiting for you next spring. Hey, they had a few hiccups in Africa and a grand slam of popularity so we couldn’t get them at the beginning of summer. If you love them, buy them now. No telling when we’ll get lucky again!
We talked to them about the women in their artisan core. Turns out that lots of single moms work on the beading and knitting at home and other women work in equal parity to men in the open workshops. And the company itself in one of less than 0.5% of all businesses in this country with an African American woman as CEO. Thats’ ibu for sure
Get yourself some of this Africa love before they’re gone. I'm off tomorrow for two weeks in Ethiopia to find more surprises for you. Maybe a giraffe will want to breakfast with me, too?
all the best,
Susan Hull Walker