Ethical, sustainable and chic: the 8 best shoe brands reviving old African traditions



When Toronto-raised Tal Dehtiar launched his Ethiopian shoe brand, Oliberté, in 2009, he was fed up with the way people looked at Africa: helpless and in need of constant help. So what better way to symbolize Africa’s potential? “By making the best shoes in the world, designed with the most authentic history, right here in Africa,” says Dehtiar. “It’s not just about showing people that Africans can work, compete and create things, but also that under the most difficult conditions we can make the most responsible product the world has ever seen and which can take care of its people. “

It is a noble enterprise, but one which has borne fruit. With the help of its managing director, Feraw Kebede (who, like Jimmy Choo, was trained at London’s Cordwainers Technical College), Dehtiar built his own shoe factory in Addis Ababa, which has since grown into the world’s first shoe factory. Fair Trade certified in the world. Oliberté, which uses traditional sewing techniques for its desert boots, has also been keen to hire unskilled or unemployed workers, taking them through a six-phase training program, which can see them start as a cleaner and move up the ranks. . at a managerial level within two years. “The company’s plan is to give a job to someone who has no skills so that they can accomplish something in life. Some people come from the streets – shaping them and bringing them to this level is exciting, ”says Kebede.

Dehtiar ultimately hopes to change the way Africa’s biggest shoe makers run their factories. “Africa is such an amazing word; when you say Africa, everyone has so many different connotations: safari, corruption, politics, famine, ”Dehtiar says. “What I hope is that for the 100,000 people who have put on our shoes so far, the word Africa means something different to them.

TEN & Cie shoes

Photo: Courtesy of TEN & Co.

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