Until recently, Seattleites who wanted to slip their feet into a pair of authentic velskoen by Herbert Schier Shoes had to hop a flight to Swakopmund, Namibia where they’re produced or, closer to home, head to Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles or New York. But you can save your Skymiles, because the heritage shoe brand is now available in the Emerald City by way of Lambs Ear Shoes.
Inspired by the footwear of the South African Khoikhoi tribe, velskoen (pronounced "fell-skoon"), or "vellies" as they’re commonly called, are the ancestors of modern-day desert boots. (We can thank the Brits for bringing the shoe style up North.) Velskoen are crafted of raw materials and are made by hand—only 20 pairs are produced in a day at the Herbert Schier workshop.
We’ve experienced green practices and creative reconstruction with animals in the fashion industry before, and Herbert Schier Shoes is no exception. Velskoen are created from the hide of wild (and therefore amazingly one of a kind) Kudu, Africa’s native giant antelope—the culling of which, you’ll be happy to know, is mandated by the local government. At the government’s green light, local farmers hunt and provide Kudu hide to Schier, which are tanned using vegetable-based dyes. The Kudu is then resourcefully divided across Namibia: Some meat is sold to local butchers and the rest is donated to local orphanages, while scrap pieces of leather are donated to the local jail where they are used in an arts program for creating—you’ll never guess—patchwork jackets.
Okay, we may be living in exactly the opposite of a desert here in the Northwest, but that hasn’t stopped Seattle natives from buying more sunglasses than any other city in the nation, so why not buttery soft leather boots?
Check out a few of the different styles of "vellies" by clicking through the slideshow.