WORDS BY SANDRA HAGELSTAM
With no lack of creativity – here are the most innovative black footwear designers.
For the month of June, we will dedicate our articles to discover and report on black-owned businesses, shoe brands that champion diversity as well as creatives of colour that inspire us. So here are the most innovative, the bold and unapologetic black-owned shoe brands to bookmark, discover and shop.
AMINAH ABDUL JILLIL
This namesake luxury shoe brand was founded in 2012 and has since been sold in over 50 countries including Harvey Nichols and Level Shoes. Aminah’s shoes are known for a bold yet feminine design aesthetic, including high heels, colourful leathers and jewellery-like details.
The designer was born in Anchorage, Alaska but started her career as a dancer in Los Angeles, performing with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Britney Spears and Janet Jackson. In 2019, Aminah was awarded ’Accessory Designer Of The Year’ by ESSENCE Magazine.
SHOP AND EXPLORE AMINAH ABDUL JILIL’S COLLECTIONS HERE
Founder of Brother Vellies, Aurora James has been very vocal in the recently emphasised fight against systematic racism. Her 15 percent pledge that challenges retailers to invest in black businesses has got a lot of coverage and will hopefully push industries to rethink their buy.
New York based James has a background in fashion, journalism, art, music, photography, and horticulture, and has a passion for artisanship and a mission to create accessories that will remain in your wardrobe forever. Read more about her in our previous post, here. Founded in 2013, Brother Vellies shoes celebrate cultural histories and timeless design and are sold across the globe, including Farfetch and Shopbop.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @KAHMUNE
Kahmune is on a mission to cater for all women, offering their collection of shoes in 10 different skin tones. They state ‘Our color palette is inspired by the diverse regions of the world. Each shade is named after the women whose skin tones have inspired us throughout this journey. Each style is named after a different woman who has played a pivotal role in our founder’s life.’
The founder Jamela A Acheampong was hit with inspiration through frustration in 2016 when she noticed that the colour ‘nude’ was widely perceived as a colour to match light skin tones. She started experimenting with paint and coloured her white pumps to match her skin tone, the rest is history.
DISCOVER KAHMUNE’S RANGE OF NUDE SHOES HERE
Founded in Sydney Australia, Shekudo began as a women’s clothing brand, built on heritage, life experiences and a wearable art aesthetic. Now under the sole creative direction of Akudo Iheakanwa, the brand relaunched into footwear and accessories moving its base across the Indian Ocean to commence production in Lagos, Nigeria.
With an aim to source materials and produce locally, each item is responsibly made with traceable origins. The outcome? African heritage reworked into modern, wearable shoes for women around the globe. You can find the made-to-order brand at Koibird in the UK and The Folklore in the US, to name a few.
EXPLORE SHEKUDO SHOE AND ACCESSORIES HERE
IMAGE COURTESY OF @SHEKUDO
IMAGE COURTESY OF @ZOUXOUSHOES
‘Unfuzzy and minimal’ is how Zou Xou presents their designs. The shoes are handcrafted in Buenos Aires by Argentinian shoemakers using age old techniques and premium leathers. The shoes are made in small quantities in the name of slow fashion, to last.
NYC based founder and creative director Katherine Theobalds started Zou Xou in 2015 after she felt the fashion industry lacked originality. The toxic culture and excess of waste she experienced as a fashion designer urged her to start a new kind of business. Online stores like The Garmentory carry Zou Xou shoes.
SHOP ZOU XOU SHOES HERE
‘Luxury shoes that transform women’ is how founder Kendall Reynolds presents her shoes. The designer founded her label straight out of college and has in five years built a name for herself. Designed in Los Angeles, manufactured in Florence using the finest leathers and exotic skins.
Reynolds who was born and raised in Chicago, studied International Relations while simultaneously teaching herself footwear design. Her signature styles include the pictured ‘Posh’ pumps and has fans like Rihanna and Vanessa Hudgens.
DISCOVER KENDALL MILES RANGE OF SHOES HERE
IMAGE COURTESY OF @THEKENDALLMILES
IMAGE COURTESY OF @IAMJENNIFERLE
Jennifer Le’s colourful shoes blur the line between high-fashion and streetwear. Her use of colour, rhinestones and exotic materials makes for bold designs that have gathered a large artist following including Rihanna and Cardi B. The unapologetic designer comes from a mixed background and has been very vocal in the Black Lives Matter movement. Jennifer’s family is half black, thus her work is largely inspired by black culture.
Each pair is hand-finished using high quality materials and premium craftsmanship. Jennifer Le and her eponymous label, are both headquartered in Toronto, Canada & deliver globally.
EXPLORE JENNIFER LE’S SHOES HERE
Monet learned shoe making in Brooklyn NY, where she made her first pair of nude heels from scratch. She has since grown her brand and expanded her collection to six shades in her three signature, wearable styles and counts Beyoncé as one of her loyal fans.
Monet who has make a name for itself championing ‘Nude is not a colour’ has her shoes manufactured in Italy and has a passion for making heels that compliment the feminine physique and that work with everything in a woman closet.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @SALONEMONET
IMAGE COURTESY OF @ELEANORANUKAMFOOTWEAR
Designer Eleanor Anukam started her namesake label out of necessity, after discovering the lack of plus sized designer shoes. She, herself sized US 12 understood the need for larger sized shoes and has since made it her mission to design fashion forward shoes ranging from sizes US 9-13.
Anukam, who was born in Houston, Texas, raised in Lagos, Nigeria was taught a multi-cultural aesthetic from an early age. Her best sellers, the ‘Iruoma’ pumps pictured has been spotted on actress Laverne Cox.
SEE MORE AND SHOP ELEANOR ANUKAM SHOES HERE
American shoe designer, Tiannia Barnes, traded in her IT/business project management career to pursue a dream as a shoe designer in 2013. She embarked on a journey following her passion, creating her namesake label that today has been featured in Italian Vogue and Forbes to name a few, Michele Obama has also been seen wearing Barnes shoes.
Each pair is uniquely crafted from fine Italian leather and the process, as behind the scenes footage, is something the designer often features on her Instagram channel. The designer recently spoke to Footwear News as how she is using this Springs downtime at home to plan her a exiting relaunch.
CLICK TO SEE TIANNIA BARNES SHOES HERE
IMAGE COURTESY OF @TIANNIABARNES
IMAGE COURTESY OF ADESAMUEL.COM
Founded by celebrity stylist Ade Samuel with the goal of creating luxury footwear for women, designed by a woman. As a native New Yorker, FIT graduate Ade Samuel has gathered an impressive resume of fashion industry experience. From working in the editorial departments of W Magazine and Teen Vogue, to helping launch the first issue of CR Fashion Book with founder Carine Roitfeld and editor Shiona Turini, Samuel has gathered both knowledge as well as an network of A-listers, that she today counts as customers.
Her beautifully crafted shoes are made of Italian leather and are inspired by the strong women she’s worked besides. Her impressive personal closet has been featured in Coveteur as she herself is an interesting person to follow on Instagram.
DISCOVER ADE SAMUEL SHOE COLLECTION HERE
stablished in 2009 by Brazil native Loza Maléombho who designed shoes from an early age. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation at the University of the Arts of Philadelphia, Maléombho took on several internships at New York City’s top fashion designer houses before starting a brand of her own.
Loza Maléombho is now based in Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa where production of her collections takes place. Mixing Ivorian tribal aesthetics with New York City’s urban trends is what inspires the designers colourful designs that has Beyonce and Kelly Rowland as fans.
EXPLORE LOZA MALÉOMBHO SHOES HERE
IMAGE COURTESY OF @LOZA_MALÉOMBHO
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