Aurora James spent a lot of time traveling as kids. Along the way, my Mother curated a collection of colorful, culturally inspired fashion accessories, including silk kimonos, Danish clogs, and ornate hats. She’d spend hours in her closet, daydreaming about the lovely people who would wear these classic items.
Those fantasies came to life as I grew older, thanks to the work photographers Steven Meisel, Richard Avedon, and their cast of muses in fashion publications.
My first internship was at Next Models in Toronto when I was 15 years old. After high school, I went to Ryerson University to study Fashion for a year before altering my degree to Journalism and working at Fashion Television with Jeanne Beker. My first true sight of how fashion worked and what people truly thought and felt came from spending an entire summer in our tape library studying hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes film footage of interviews and fashion shows. I moved to Los Angeles a few years later and began working as a freelance creative consultant for Elite, Gen Art, Woolly Pocket, and Thomas Wylde. Despite the fact that I never designed anything, my job was always about building and expanding ideas and identities. I spent a lot of my free time trying to come up with a bigger method to express my creativity while also giving back in some manner. My first journey to Africa was to Morocco in 2011, following which I experimented with design and different craftspeople for a few years. In January 2013, I launched Brother Vellies with the objective of conserving the African shoemaking trade and providing new opportunities for the craftsmen in our workshops. Working with South African shoemakers, I released the first formal collection in Spring 2014. We soon extended to Kenya and Morocco to continue manufacturing real, modern-day desert boots, shoes, slippers, and sandals. I currently travel to Africa every 2-3 months to work with our craftspeople on the ground and continue to expand our lines. Every day is a new lesson and a challenge with our craftsmen, and we’ve developed and developed so much together that I’m immensely thrilled to be sharing our story with you today.