Starting a shoe line in Africa may require very little startup capital. Towns throughout the continent are filled with artisans who’ve made shoes by hand for generations and passed their know-how on to younger generations. Someone hoping to start a line of footwear may not necessarily have to spend money training employees. A handful of entrepreneurs has capitalized on traditional shoe-making skills and high quality, low-cost materials available in many parts of the continent — like animal skins and abandoned car tires — to build shoe businesses. Their work sometimes shows up on fashion runways around the world. Here are 8 African-made shoe brands you will love.
Haus of Hercules specializes in luxurious flats like loafers and Oxfords, that come in cozy materials like suede and velvet, and animal prints. The shoes are the perfect combination of casual and sophisticated and have found their way onto the runways of major fashion events like in Africa and the U.K. Christopher Jeje, a young Nigerian designer, is the creator of the brand. Check out more of their designs at Hausofhercules.tumblr.com.
If it’s tassels, pointy toes and alligator skin you’re after, check out Heel the World’s line of men’s dress shoes. The shoe styles are classic, but the designer adds a little quirky or edgy twist to each, like dying the leather bright yellow or lacing up loafers. The creator, Fred Deegbe, started his line working out of his parent’s garage in Accra, and he hired local craftsmen to produce the first batches of shoes. See more designs at Htwshoes.com.
The Della brand is a collaboration between Ghanaian entrepreneur Nii Addotey and U.S.-based entrepreneur Tina Tangalakis. Della is based in Los Angeles, California but it carries handmade items–including shoes–from Ghana. In the shoes category, you’ll find traditional batik prints made by a community of 50 women in Ghana’s Volta region. U.S. shoe manufacturer Vans recently collaborated with the brand for a men’s and women’s shoe line called Della X Vans. The proceeds will go towards educating and training more people in the Volta. Find shoes at Dellala.com.
Buqisi-Ruux makes funky, high-fashion platform heels in bold prints that could easily grace the pages of top fashion magazines. The line was started by three cousins from Kenya, and the shoes have vibrant tribal prints found throughout Africa. Currently, Buqisi-Ruux shoes can be found in South Africa, Uganda and Kenya. See more designs at Buqisi-ruux.com.
Swaheelies makes the perfect poppy sandals for a vacation or the beach season. Made from African cloth, these ultra-comfortable thong-style sandals feature traditional African prints made by artisans in Nairobi’s Kibera slum region. Swaheelie’s founder, Chania Lackey, hopes to help fight unemployment in the area by providing jobs through her shoe line. See more shoes at Swaheelies.com.
This eco friendly line of shoes is sold in over 50 countries, and the company employs more than 100 artisans and 200 local suppliers in Ethiopia. The owner, Bethlehem Alemu, makes over $1 million in sales every year. What makes her shoes so special? They’re made entirely from recycled materials like old tires. Sole Rebels has been featured on CNN and Forbes. See more at Solerebels.com.
Enzi is made up of four friends from Kenya, Ethiopia, the U.S. and the U.K. and the shoes are made from ethically raised and sourced leather from the Azariah region of Ethiopia. The designs are dressy casual–sneakers meet loafers–and you can peruse them on Enzifootwear.com.
Passport Articles de Voyage features high-end high tops made from premium leather and suede and adorned in sheepskin, fish skin, and handwoven textile. The shoes usually have vibrant prints and can be found online at Passportadv.com.