Brother Vellies is just the kind of ethical and socially conscious brand the Duchess loves.
Much like Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle has taken a firm stance on how she selects designers and brands for her public appearances. The First Lady made headlines for her carefully chosen outfits, especially while on foreign visits, because they usually reflected the craftsmanship and design talent of the country she was visiting. The Duchess, too, has a similar approach. She kicked off day one of her current South African royal tour with a dress by local label Mayamiko. The trend continued on day two, with the Duchess pairing her Madewell denim jacket and Mother jeans with a pair of shoes by Brother Vellies.
Founded by Toronto native Aurora James, the New York-based shoe brand is just the kind of ethical and socially conscious brand Markle loves. Founded in 2013, “with the goal of preserving the shoemaking craft in Africa and creating new jobs for the artisans in our workshops,” the brand’s shoes—ranging from boots to shoes to show-stopping sandals—are all handmade in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco.
Other famous fans of Brother Vellies include Zendaya, Solange, Winnie Harlow and Queen Bey. According to James’ website, she travels to Africa “every 2-3 months to work on the ground with our artisans and further develop our collections.” In an interview with FASHION last year, she spoke about the process of working on the continent and how fulfilling the journey has been: “I fell in love with Africa and all of the artisanal skills they have there, the natural materials and that’s what I build the collection on every season.”
It makes perfect sense then, for the Duchess to select a pair of hand-woven braided leather flats from the brand for her first trip to South Africa with Prince Harry (although this specific style is made in Mexico). Plus, she often chooses to wear pieces by Canadian designers in a nod to her adopted home country—as most everyone knows by now, she lived in Toronto for several years while filming Suits. The shoes, by the way, are already sold out.