The finalists for the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund are out, and among the 10 new designers is shoe label Brother Vellies.
Founded in 2013 by 30-year-old Aurora James, the line is created in South Africa, Ethiopia, Morocco and Kenya. James was also named a Footwear News emerging designer to watch in June.
“I am so grateful and humbled to have been selected for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Having the support of the CFDA and Vogue is a true honor and I am so thankful and delighted for this opportunity,” said James. “I am excited to share a unique perspective and I look forward to showcasing the amazing work of all the artisans we collaborate with across Africa and to move forward in this already incredible experience.”
James’ unique designs mix textures and patterns to create unique silhouettes and styling.
“It was disheartening that [these areas] were losing their traditional shoe shapes in favor of Western culture’s trend list,” James told FN last month. “I wanted to preserve and reinvent them.”
Over the next four months, James and other nominated designers will compete in design challenges and also stage a runway show at the Chateau Marmot in Los Angeles, and then on Nov. 4 a winner will be named. The first place winner will receive $300,000 to put towards their business and will receive mentorship from an industry professional.
Besides creating beautiful footwear, James also aims to use sustainable and local materials in the shoes. She often uses recycled denim and turns to car-tires for the soles of her shoes, and turns to local artisans to help produce the line.
Last year proved to be a big year for the shoe industry with the Fund. Paul Andrew took home the top award from the competition and finished the year with a CFDA Award nomination too. He was the first footwear designer to win the award since the fund was established in 2003 and past winners have included Public School, Altuzarra and Alexander Wang.
Also nominated were:
Baja East, Scott Studenberg and John Targon
Baldwin, Matt Baldwin
Brother Vellies, Aurora James
Cadet, Brad Schmidt and Raul Arevalo
CG, Chris Gelinas
Chromat, Becca McCharen
David Hart, David Hart
Gypsy Sport, Rio Uribe
Jonathan Simkhai, Jonathan Simkhai
Thaddeus O’Neil, Thaddeus O’Neil