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NY Fashion Week: Kanye pops in on Brother Vellies

By Associated Press



NEW YORK _ The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runways to celebrities as eight days of spring previews opened Thursday.



The small Brother Vellies got a visit from the big Kanye West.

“I’m just here to support,” he said Thursday before rushing off.

What he left behind was a collection of standout sandals in leather and adorned with beads and fur, and handbags made of materials sourced throughout Africa and created by artisans there, said Aurora James, the company’s founder and creative director.

Bags were created in South Africa using indigenous springbok, water buffalo and hardware made of hand-carved horn. Beadwork for sandals was done in the Kibera district of Kenya by women, some single mothers working from home as they care for their children. Much of the leather was processed at a tannery in Ethiopia.

Women in Burkina Faso and Mali wove fabrics, and other elements from this nearly 3-year-old company were sourced Nigeria and Botswana, James said.

James, for the first time, has partnered with the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative, offering support for her effort to boost skills training and job creation in Africa.

While describing her shoes and bags this season as “post-hippy minimalism,” James found inspiration from the musical Lijadu sisters of Nigeria _ and women in general.

“On our, women are strong enough to move mountains,” James said. “In numbers, women can collectively change the universe.”

_Leanne Italie

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