culture + fashion: brother vellies artisanal shoes are hand made in south africa…

Brother Vellies was founded by Aurora James with the goal of introducing the rest of the world to her favorite traditional African footwear, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa. Handmade in South Africa, Kenya and Namibia, Brother Vellies creates boots, shoes and sandals in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts.

While Brother Vellies offers a variety of styles, our company was built on the enthusiastic reception of our first model, the velskoen. Relatively unknown outside of Africa, the velskoen – pronounced “fell-skoon” and known colloquially as “vellies” – are actually the ancestor of the modern day desert boot. At the workshop in South Africa, a small group of men and women assemble a few dozen pairs of shoes a day by hand, using techniques refined over multiple generations. The workshop was established in 1963 and is an open space that welcomes artisans of all genders, sexual orientation, backgrounds and tribes.


A Toronto-native and New York transplant after a time in Los Angeles, Aurora James has amassed an impressive resume of fashion industry experience. From model agent to curator and now Creative Director of Brother Vellies, James’ years of experience have resulted in a broad knowledge of the industry from all sides. Currently based in Brooklyn, James’ finds herself traveling to and throughout Africa – particularly South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco – every few months to work with the local artisans, experience the diverse culture of the continent and discover new inspirations for the brand.


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