WORDS BY FLORENCE TROTT
The summer-ready shoe labels championing handmade with heart and soul.
This summer we’re going back to basics with woven shoes and raffia sandals made by ethical labels supporting local craftspeople around the world. Artisan-made shoes are re-defining luxury for the modern age using centuries-old techniques and ethical practices. This is slow fashion with a reduced carbon footprint for shoe-lovers that care about who made their shoes. Laid-back styles and neutral colour palettes also make them vacation essentials. Whilst sun-soaked Mediterranean coastlines and far-flung islands might be out of reach for now, the raffia and woven leather shoes that evoke them are well within reach. From Lagos to Greece and Italy to Côte d’Ivoire, our edit highlights brands from around the world championing handmade. Want to know where your shoes come from? Read on to find out more.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @SHEKUDO
Shekudo is the made-in-Lagos footwear label donating $5 from every sale towards training in the art of shoemaking for at-risk women in Nigeria. Founder Akudo Iheakanwa’s designs are handmade by local artisans using traditional fabrics and up-cycled materials. Easy to wear and versatile, join the Shekudo sisterhood today in sleek woven mules and sculptural sandals.
EXPLORE SHEKUDO’S RANGE – HERE
Designed in London and handcrafted in Spain, MIISTA’s basket shoes are the footwear embodiment of sunshine. An independent company with a small, passionate team, the heart of the business is their crafts wo/men in Alicante. Wear with cut-off denim by day and sexy slip dresses by night for warm summer evenings dining al fresco.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @MIISTA
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IMAGE COURTESY OF @ANCIENTGREEKSANDALS
Handmade by local craftsmen using centuries-old techniques, Ancient Greek sandals have an uncomplicated but feminine aesthetic crying out to be worn to white sand beaches on the Aegean Sea. Inspired by Greek Mythology, expect golden wing buckles, delicate straps and chemical-free, natural tan leather that ages beautifully with time and wear.
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Designer Aurora James founded her label Brother Vellies with the goal of keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive. Now handmade by artisans across the globe, her shoes combine a modern aesthetic with meaningful values and have gained a cult following of fashion lovers who care about where their shoes come from.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @BROTHERVELLIES
IMAGE COURTESY OF @MANEBI
Manebí’s signature Spanish espadrilles are designed in Milan and handmade in la Rioja. Each pair is unique as they are woven by old techniques, that dates back a century. The brand that has been around since 2012 is available on Farfetch and just released a collection designer together with Sergio Rossi.
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Frequently spotted on the likes of Manrepeller’s Leandra Medine and Marie Claire’s Wanyi Jiang, Spanish heritage label Castaner catapulted into the fashion limelight when Yves Saint Laurent commissioned them to make the first espadrille wedge in the ‘70s. Now a classic holiday style for women all over the globe, the manufacturing process for Castaner’s espadrilles has barely changed in 90 years, and continues to have handmade craftsmanship at its core.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @CASTANEROFFICIAL
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IMAGE COURTESY OF @ZOUXOU
Zou Xou designer Katherine Theobalds started her slow-fashion brand after being disillusioned by the toxic culture, detachment from craft and terrible waste she experienced in the New York fashion industry in 2015. Fast forward five years, and her shoes are handcrafted by Argentinian shoemakers in small quantities using age old techniques and premium leathers. They’re incredibly beautiful and comfortable, and the label does made to order, too.
SHOP XOU ZOU SHOES, HERE
Craft and handwork are the heart of Loewe. Founded in Spain in 1846, the luxury label started life as a collective dedicated to leathermaking. With Jonathan Anderson at the helm, that spirit continues to define the house, where traditional techniques are combined with new technologies to create shoes that make us drool. We’ll see you at the casa for sangria at sundown in a pair of fringed raffia slides.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @LOEWE
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IMAGE COURTESY OF @ZYNEOFFICIAL
We dream of wearing Zyne’s ‘babouche’ style woven shoes to sip mint-tea in spice-scented souks. Founder Zineb Britel is a Moroccan-born designer based in Casablanca whose mission is to bring the country’s traditional footwear and ancient craftsmanship into the 21st century. A commitment to working with local female makers and supporting artistry in the country has gained the brand high-profile fans including Meghan Markle. The brand just landed on Matches Fashion and is definitely one to watch.
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Born in Brazil and raised between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States, Loza Maléombho works with Ivorian artisan shoemakers who have perfected their craft over generations. Check in for shoes that celebrate the country’s culture through a high-fashion lens with gilded details and beautiful handmade finishes.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @LOZA_MALÉOMBHO
IMAGE COURTESY OF @CARRIEFORBESINC
Eschewing fast fashion and mass manufacturing processes, Carrie Forbes shoes are handwoven in Morocco using natural raffia, and are a celebration of the traditional skills of the country’s shoemakers. Forbes started making modern, hand crocheted handbags in 1987 and has since shifted the focus to shoes. Flat and wedge sandals, as well as bags, in natural, handwoven raffia is the brands signature look.
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Straight out of the beach-y bliss of Byron Bay, St Agni founders Lara & Matt Fells cherish the relationships they have built with their artisan shoemakers. Handmade is at the core of what they do. Laid-back, relaxed footwear is what they make. Look to the Aussi duo for vacation-ready woven sandals that work for both the city and the beach. The brand also makes beautiful clothing and is part of Net-a-Porter’s NET Sustain program.
IMAGE COURTESY OF @STAGNISTUDIO
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IMAGE COURTESY OF @CLERGERIE
Handmade in Portugal, Clergerie’s ateliers date back to 1895 and they claim to be the first luxury shoe designers to use raffia. These days, Clergerie shoes combine a sense of modernity with age-old techniques to make shoes you’ll want to take with you wherever you holiday this year.
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