About two weeks ago, I wrote a post about how Aurora James of Brother Vellies is promoting Made in Africa. I came across a post about her on Racked and the truth is she is not just promoting Made in Africa, she is redefining what Made in Africa really means. Nevermind that Aurora herself is effortlessly cool, captivatingly interesting and the kind of woman that catches your eye with her cool composure, according Nicola Fumo who got a rare glimspe of her for Racked.com, to me, she is the epitome of fashion and style from Africa and the kicker is that she is not even from Africa. Yes, she does not carry fashion from Africa the same way others do and she is excelling better than others who think African fashion belongs to them and them only. Aurora James has managed to set up a planet-friendly supply chain in Africa while getting nominated for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Here are some key aspects of her worth knowing.
- On the name Brother Vellies: Aurora James debuted in January 2013 with a collection known as veldskoens, “vellies” for short-the desert boot’s ancient ancestor. Her collection which enlists the help of African artisans and recycled materials to craft chic footwear for men, women, and children has grown to include a breath of sandals and mules. She will soon debut handbags soon, totally redefining what Made in Africa means and doing it well.
- On her journey: Aurora James is a native of Toronto and left a journalism program at Ryerson University for a series of creative stint such as working as a production assistant, consultant, model agent, and curator. Racked.com described her as a women with a spark best summarized as a hustle, naturally inquisitive, savvy, and unintimidated by newness. She is on a mission to build a supply chain that’s good for the planet and doing so quite well in continent that is often not taken seriously when it comes to fashion.
- On her style: There is a lot of texture and color in what Aurora James wear. But denim, lots of denim seems to be her favorite style. For a feature with W magazine this past July, she described her style as unexpected, textured and playful. Her preferred footwear is her brand of course with Loren Stewart safety pin earrings to finish up her look on many occasions.
- Why sustainable fashion: For Aurora James, the well-being of the planet is at the forefront of her mind throughout the day. Brother Vellies is built on the premise if weighing what best for the environment more. Brother Vellies is also about sustainable fashion from Africa, not the lip-service type of sustainability, but the type that actually makes a difference in the lives if people by providing employment instead of charity. All her employees have jobs and can pay their own rent or buy their own house.
- On her business model: Aurora James is not the first fashion brand to make things in Africa. But she is the first to make things in Africa that profitable in the global fashion industry. All her shoes are 100% made in Africa. She is about trying to do the best she can for African while setting her own standards and ideals. This is the busness model that works for her and I am happy that she is using this model to redefine “Made in Africa.” Regardless of the outcome of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, she is a winner in our eyes for the way she is creating a sustainable brand in Africa, a model worth emulating for understanding resilience of African people.