Brother Vellies

Brother Vellies is an original brand - both in terms of their unique product designs and in how they have considered environmental and social issues in the way they do business. What exactly do they do?

Their product: Their main products are shoes inspired by South Africa walking/desert shoes, a cultural staple known locally as a velskoen a.k.a. vellies. The concept alone shows that culture and community is important to the company, and this is appreciated by the communities in which they work as well as their customers.

Their raw materials: Their shoes are made using mainly Kudu (a type of antelope) leather. The leather is sourced from local hunters and farmers who sell the kudu meat in local markets - so instead of disposing of the leather, they sell it to Brother Vellies. What's more, the South African government has mandated a Kudu culling because of overpopulation, so their leather sourcing doesn't have negative impacts on wildlife.  They also recycle other materials to use in their shoes, mainly old denim and car tires as sandal soles.

The production process: Brother Vellies tries to minimize the polluting effects of chemical dyes by not using chemical dyes. Instead, they use a vegetable dying process and when they have to use a chemical process for their cotton, they hand-dye. The shoes themselves are handmade, using a limited number of machinery; this means that energy consumption is pretty low and employee numbers are pretty high.

Their employees: Brother Vellies' workshop employees are local artisans who receive fair wages and training from more experienced artisans. This local employment is a form of empowerment for which the company is very proud of.

Their waste management: The scrap from producing the adult shoes is collected and used to create Brother Vellies' new product line for kids, called 'Brother Minis'. This means that not much is wasted during production.

Their logistics: Brother Vellies is also conscious of their carbon emissions from transportation of their shoes from Africa to North America for sales. They try to reduce their transportation by packing as much as possible into their cargo shipments so that they make fewer and more efficient trips.

Their community: The company recognizes that many of their workers have many children schooling in the community. So they go an extra mile to support local primary education using a portion of their Brother Minis sales.

Product use: Brother Vellies understands the harm that fast fashion can do to the environment. And so they've made it a point to ensure that their shoes are of good quality and can be seen as a long term investment.

All these characteristics of Brother Vellies' business model and product makes them appealing to customers, their community and the general public. They have risen from strength to strength and prove that sustainable strategies do work.

Shop Brother Vellies online here and read this interview of Brother Vellies' founder, Aurora James.