It’s not often that one comes across a fashion line that balances innovation, sustainability and style as well as Aurora James’s shoe line Brother Vellies.
Handmade in South Africa, Kenya and Namibia, Brother Vellies creates boots, shoes and sandals maintaining the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts. While preserving South Africa’s traditional shoemaking craft this one-year-old start-up is introducing to the rest of the world some iconic traditional African footwear and creating artisanal jobs within Africa.
It’s first model, the velskoen – pronounced “fell-skoon” and known colloquially as “vellies” – are the ancestor of the modern-day desert boot. At the workshop established in 1963 in South Africa, a small group of men and women assemble by hand a few dozen pairs of shoes a day using techniques refined over multiple generations. The latest addition to the label, the Tyre sandal, is based on the footwear of the Maasai made from repurposed car tires and the kid’s line pint-sized versions of the traditional Brother Vellies Erongos made using the softest kudu, oryx and calf leathers are every mum’s dream.
Most of Brother Vellies classic shoes are made using Kudu leather, an animal byproduct resulting from a government mandated culling due to overpopulation. Much of the meat is sold at local markets or donated. Following the philosophy of slow fashion many of what they call their ‘forever shoes’ are produced on a made to order basis to prevent excess inventory or undue stress on the local farmers. The shoes can also be easily re-soled once their original soles have worn through. Last but not least the natural marks and scars on wild animals are carefully positioned on the inside portions of the shoes instead of being discarded.
Everything about Brother Vellies exhale the future of fashion, from the actual extremely well-crafted products, the business and ethical philosophy to the fresh and unique visual identity. Creative Director and founder Aurora James, a Toronto-native former model agent currently based in Brooklyn, strikes by her creativity and acumen for conscious business.
An inspiration for anybody wanting to launch a fashion line in a sustainable way Aurora is definitely the business gal to follow these days. And, with one of the best profile pictures I’ve ever seen around I cannot but suggest you to follow her Instagram feed for some daily creative inspiration and amazing shots of Africa.
All images from Brother Vellies and Aurora James website.