While Brother Vellies offers a variety of styles, our company was built on the enthusiastic reception of our first model, the velskoen. Relatively unknown outside of Africa, the velskoen - pronounced “fell-skoon” and known colloquially as “vellies” - are actually the ancestor of the modern day desert boot. At the workshop in South Africa, a small group of men and women assemble a few dozen pairs of shoes a day by hand, using techniques refined over multiple generations. The workshop was established in 1963 and is an open space that welcomes artisans of all genders, sexual orientation, backgrounds and tribes.
The Original Brother Vellie is handmade in South Africa and informed by the traditional South African design, popular locally for over a century.
Using a technique refined over several generations, this classic shoe is constructed using three pieces of leather, the upper, vamp and hakkie. Artisans sew the sole onto the upper by hand, creating a durable unit that won’t wear like a nailed sole.
The shoe is made using Kudu leather, an animal byproduct resulting from a government mandated culling due to overpopulation. Kudu skins yield exceptional leathers and suedes that age gracefully and often contain scars or other “imperfections” that make each pair truly unique.
The Brother Tyre Sandal owes its origins to the Maasai tribe, a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic people inhabiting Kenya and northern Tanzania. For several decades they have used the rubber from discarded car tires to create durable sandal straps and soles, traditionally held together by ropes or nails.
The Brother Tyre sandal pays tribute to the traditional method using a similar pattern of thick intersecting straps which we make from soft hand-cut leather. A leather insole bed is then added and a recycled car tire sole is carefully attached. The soles are cut, shaped and filed down by hand, meaning no two are ever the same.
Each year over 3 million tons of tires are sent to landfills or burned releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Our process not only creates a safe, sustainable use for these discarded tires, but also illustrates how creativity and design can create viable solutions.
The School Shoe is based on the children’s school uniform shoe worn commonly in South Africa. This oxford-style shoe is constructed with a thick rubber sole and made in a variety of different types and colors of leather.
Utilizing the same techniques and standards as the Original Brother Vellie, the Brother Mini’s maintain all the durability and style of the original in an adorable teeny tiny size. The Brother Mini’s are made via the same processes and materials as their “bigger Brothers,” and require an extreme degree of precision and care from the Artisans. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each of our Mini’s go towards helping put our artisan’s children through school. Brother Vellies believes that education is a universal right and we couldn’t be more excited to help facilitate and nurture the growth and development of our future generations.