Introducing Brother Vellies
Brother Vellies is an ethical fashion brand founded in 2013 by Aurora James.The brand specializes in luxury shoes and handbags which are handmade artisanally across the globe. The goal is to keep traditional African design practices and techniques alive and at the same time create and sustain artisanal jobs.
Brother Vellies collection is therefore produced in countries across the globe such as South Africa, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Italy, Haiti and in New York City where the brand company is based. In addition, shipping internationally is possible and customers are advised to opt for DHL for international delivery when checking out. There is also a Return Policy.
Meet the Founder
Aurora James spent a lot of time travelling when growing up. Her mother, an avid collector during their travels eventually influenced her interest in fashion. At the age of 15, James got her first internship at Next Models in Toronto, Canada where she was born and raised.
After high school, she naturally chose Fashion as an area of study. For a year, she was a Fashion student at Ryerson University before switching to a major in journalism and subsequently taking a job with Jeanne Beker at Fashion Television. A couple of years later, James would end up in Los Angeles. Here, she became a freelance Consultant for Elite, Gen Art, Woolly Pocket and Thomas Wylde.
In 2011, she travelled to Morocco. This marked her very first trip to Africa. Inspired by what she saw, she began experimenting with design and different artisans. Ultimately, Brother Vellies was born and the goal was to preserve the shoemaking craft in Africa. In addition, new jobs for the artisans in her workshops were created.
The first collection was launched in Spring 2014 and involved shoemakers from South Africa. Shortly afterwards, the brand expanded to working in Kenya and Morocco. The intent was to keep producing authentic modern-day desert boots, shoes, slippers and sandals.
Since then, James travels to Africa every 2-3 months. While there, she has an opportunity to work on the ground with the brand’s artisans and further develop their collections.
Cloud Socks by Brother Vellies and the Covid-19 pandemic
In early April 2020, Brother Vellies launched the Cloud Socks Collection. These are cotton crew socks available in 16 colors and inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic fueled stay-at-home orders. The brand’s aim was to make the stay at home experience more snug.
Furthermore, James has also founded the 15% pledge. This is a non-profit organisation asking retailers to commit 15% of their inventory for the support of Black Owned Businesses. Sephora, the French mega chain of personal care and beauty shops has recently signed on and committed to the pledge.
On her late September to early October 2019 trip to Southern Africa with husband, Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle wore Brother Vellies. Her choice were brown flats made in Michoacán, México whose design is borrowed from the traditional Mexican huarache. These complimented her casual look on a visit to Monwabisi Beach in Cape Town, South Africa.
Additional Sources: Aurora James and Cloud Socks
See also Fashion & Retail