I discovered "Vellies", or hand-sewn desert boots, while getting my daily fashion fix from Susie Bubble, reporting from NY Fashion Week.
These adorable 'desert boots' are handmade by Schier Shoes in the coastal town of Swakopmond, Namibia. There, a small group of tribal Damara men assemble every shoe by hand, cranking out about 20 pairs of boots in an afternoon.
Herbert Schier took over the business from his father Ewald, who founded it in 1938. Here's how Herbert Schier describes the cultural meaning of vellies in Fader:
"The vellie is a cultural relic for South Africans and Namibians in particular, but once you buy a pair, they become a relic for you too, a part of your story. Vellies gain character with time. They age with you, go through milestones."
The Neon Pink Toe Cap Erongo (below) is a favorite among the local Afrikaners in Namibia.
Schier's Creative Director, Aurora James, worked with artist Mickalene Thomas to create the custom Vellies below.
Schier with and Kyle Tregurtha, a close family friend, are going global, bringing Vellies to America with these bright new designs through a collaboration with retailer Opening Ceremony.
Erongosuede Vellie combines a flourescent yellow heel cap with a denim suede
I hope that Vellies don't leave their humble origins behind as they make their way into markets across the globe. There's something charming about the simplicity of the original Vellies.
You can see more at Schier Shoes.