Behind the buzz, the TV show, and the plaudits from Anna Wintour Brother Vellies’ Aurora James is just a cool chick making socially responsible, design forward shoes. Designed in New York and manufactured by small communities of artisans in South Africa, Kenya, and Morocco – Brother Vellies is more about creating a product that champions community and sustainability rather than creating the next ‘it’ accessory. James mixes designs that are steeped in Africa’s rich history and culture with more contemporary styles that feel a touch more uptown and delicate than her signature desert boot (Vellies in local slang), but never seem to stray from the label’s DNA. Highlights from the current collection include the line’s Denim Babouche
– an effortlessly chic slide that’s the perfect low-key brunch slipper. For a summer weekend away both the Saffron Burkina Slide
and the Tyre Sandal
fit the bill: the saffron for a lighter more feminine look (a long linen sundress comes to mind) and the Tyre for an earthier, rustic look (try pairing them with a wide leg jean with
After being awarded the 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize of $300,000 to invest in the brand (a title she shared with Gypsy Sport and Jonathan Simkhai) James’ fairly young label began a hot streak that hasn’t yet cooled. Her collections have grown with each subsequent season – adding more styles to insure Brother Vellies’ place as a full service footwear line. A swoon worthy addition from Fall 2016 included a knee-high boot in blush (that will make you Lose. Your. Mind). She has been met with both commercial and critical success – Mr. Tastemaker himself Kanye West even stopped by one of her recent presentations .
Having sat for a meeting with Ms. James in the past I can tell you she’s as magnetic as she is magnanimous. She believes so much in her work of producing beautiful things while empowering African artisans; her passion practically radiates off of her. With Brother Vellies Ms. James has struck the perfect balance between creating something aesthetically beautiful and socially responsible - I’d say that’s pretty award-worthy.