In Conversation with Aurora James
Only three years after its launch, Brother Vellies, the uber-covetable, ethical and sustainable range of shoes inspired by traditional African footwear, has already earned a solid celebrity following that includes Beyoncé, Kanye West and Alexa Chung. To celebrate eco month, we meet the Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based creative director and founder, Aurora James, who discusses why we need less chrome leather in our life and the hope she feels at creating one of the most stylish yet sustainable footwear brands out there.
Thanks to an environmental activist mother (whose wardrobe she would often raid as an child), it comes as no surprise that Aurora James had joined PETA by the age of eight before adding women’s rights campaigner to her CV a few years later. Struck by the original and beautiful artisan work she saw while travelling around Africa, and being one to always challenge the status quo, she created an ambitious plan to preserve the shoemaking craft in Africa. Her collection is based around the traditional African veldskoen, commonly known as ‘vellies’, which are a type of desert boot, and she works directly with artisans in Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya and Morocco. By using fashion to empower African communities, she has already scooped the 2015 CFDA Vogue Fashion fund. Waiting lists are growing by the minute for the suede Dhara sandals with (by-product) fur trims, as well as Aurora’s very stylish take on the babouche.