Fashion News

Morocco, among African countries revolutionizing shoemaking

Written by Souad El Mghari

Not only has Morocco become such a big inspiration for fashion brands and designers from around the globe, but its ever-growing popularity of handmade products; especially shoes, has made it a top competitor in the fashion industry.

In a recent article by Vogue, the magazine shed a light on a new wave of African shoemakers that are making it big in the fashion industry, with their high-quality footwear. Countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Morocco and their fashion investors have made it a point to take this shoemaking craft to a whole other level by “focusing on sustainably sourced materials, ethical manufacturing, and the employment of marginalized women”, and that on top of making some beautiful and competitive shoes, in all shapes and forms.

With the likes of; Ten & Co. a footwear brand that crafts its shoes from Moroccan rugs, supple suede, and leather by an old-fashioned cobbler in Marrakech, and that also uses recycled materials whenever possible, Proud Maryanother brand founded by a former volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and whose main purpose is to work with Moroccan craftsmen (especially women) such as raffia dyers, female weavers, male cobblers, and leather dealers, and other similar shoe brands that chose to take as much advantage from culturally rich countries as Morocco, they have become a true testament to the fact that; “The solution for Africa is not charity, and charity, and charity again. (But) Sawa (an African shoe brand) is living proof that African people can manufacture high-quality finished goods”, as explained Mehdi Slimani; the founder of Ethiopian-based sneaker label Sawa.

Beyond the common belief of outsourcing businesses in industries as fashion to countries in Africa for the sake of saving costs, due to the region’s low living wage; entrepreneurs as Ten & Co. founder; Tory Noll are said to be looking at the bigger picture; “I’m not using this company as a jumping-off point to start a sweatshop and increase my margins and take over the world with shoes. My goal is simply to utilize the existing talent and craftsmanship of the men and women of Morocco—and hopefully others will also want a piece of that in the form of beautiful shoes!” as he explained in the article. And so is Proud Mary’s creator Poe, who told Vogue; “We really like the idea of being able to make a difference for the women and families in this culture (Moroccan), while helping to preserve this beautiful traditional craft”.