Vivobarefoot Launches Kickstarter Campaign To Revive Legendary Sandal-Making From Namibia

Ju/'hoansi bushman sandals
Original Ju/'hoansi bushman sandals reintroduced by Vivobarefoot.
Courtesy of brand.

While many shoe companies are investing in cutting-edge technology, Vivobarefoot is getting back to basics. The U.K.-based company, known for its barefoot shoes, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for its newest project — a collection of authentic bushman sandals made in Namibia.

The 30-day campaign, which kicked off Monday, has set a goal of $100,941 to help revive the ancient shoemaking craft while also providing training and creating job opportunities. All profits will be reinvested in the local Namibian community to help purchase staple foods and create a famine fund for drought years.

Vivobarefoot was launched in 2012 by Galahad and Asher Clark, seventh-generation shoemakers. The company launched the project in partnership with the Ju/hoansi community, also known as the San bushman, enabling them to produce footwear for themselves as well as create up to 1,500 pairs a year for global consumption.

The sandals are made with ethically sourced eland skin. An embossed animal footprint on the sole provides added grip and abrasion resistance. The sandals were first developed as a way of protecting the bushman, who engaged in persistence hunting, whereby hunters use a combination of tracking and endurance running to pursuing an animal until it collapses from heat exhaustion. Production of the sandals, however, had ceased due to hunting restrictions that stopped the supply of skins.

To secure one of the first pairs, a pledge of $150 is required, while for $170 you can receive a pair decorated with feathers and ostrich pearl accessories. A tw0-pair order is set at $290; four pairs for $500 and 10 oars for $1,200, which is designated for retailers. Delivery is expected in June.

For those who want to take the experience one step further, a pledge of $5,00 entitles you to a six-day adventure in Namibia, set for November. A $7,200 pledge comes with a hunting party in March 2017 to learn the skills of the San hunters.