Brother Vellies : Scent of Africa



“Everybody haffi ask weh mi get mi Clarks” 

In his 2010 hit song “Clarks,” Vybz Kartel outlines the official outfit for an original “badman” down to the footwear. His shoes, the ubiquitous Clarks, are so attractive that everyone wants to know where he got them. The answer to this question might be more complicated than initially thought. 

Ask any Jamaican where they got their Clarks, and you’d expect to hear England or America. But the answer might actually be Namibia. In fact, Namibians created a shoe exactly like desert boots as far back as the 1600s. Called “Vellies”—short for “Velskeon”—these shoes, made from durable kudu skins, were originally worn by the Khoikhoi tribe before being adopted by the British. How a traditional shoe from a small tribe in Southern Africa ends up becoming a shoe tradition in Jamaica brings new meaning to the term Triangular Trade. 

There’s no concrete proof that Clarks (which makes its desert boots from”hard” leather and “soft” suede, as noted by Kartel in “Clarks”) are the sartorial descendants of Vellies, but these pictures—taken by photographer Jason Eric Hardwick for Brother Vellies, a Brooklyn-based company that has begun importing “vellies” handmade in Swakopmund, Namibia—show a remarkable likeness, not only in the style of the shoe, but also the swagger of the wearer. 

The Brother Vellies are a truly beautiful shoe. For Clarks enthusiasts, the African style additions of authentic fur details, animal prints and bright colors contribute to a new and edgier dimension to the shoe. Funny enough, Brother Vellies seem more contemporary than conservative, old-world Clarks. For a shoe with a deeper history, there is something new and fresh about Brother Vellies. Though they came first, they feel like desert boots with a fashion-forward twist.

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Brother Vellies a été créé en 2010 en Namibie par Aurora James (Directrice Artistique). Des créations inspirées des chaussures traditionnelles Khoikhoi, qui évoquent les nuits dans le désert Namibien. L'équipe est composée de 08 artistes Damara sur le site d'origine avec en plus des ateliers en Afrique du Sud et au Kenya.
Toutes les chaussures sont faites à la main. Pour la création, Aurora James s'inspire des plantes, des fleurs, de ses amis, de livres d'histoire , de clips vidéos vintage et aussi des sandales des hommes Masai.

Il était important pour moi de montrer une image positive de l'Afrique. Pendant des décennies le public Americain aété gavés d'images tristes d'enfant malnutris ou d'images fantasmagoriques de stars Hollywoodienne dans leurs manoirs Africains. Il y'a tout un univers entre ces deux mondes, que je trouve encore plus intéressant et honnête.Aurora J.

A blog created by Marlyse Carrol

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