It’s been a pretty fantastic year for footwear designer Aurora James. After an impressive first-time showing of her globally-inspired footwear line, Brother Vellies, during New York Fashion Week — in which Kanye West stopped by to support — the 31-year-old is now part of fashion history.
James is one of three designers named winners of the 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, the first time this has happened in the fund’s 12-year history. She will share the title with Rio Uribe of the streetwear brand Gypsy Sport and womenswear designer Jonathan Simkhai. All three designers will get $300,000 to help grow their businesses and a yearlong mentorship with an industry veteran.
As creative director of Brother Vellies, James told BET.com that she travels to Africa every two to three months to source inspiration for her pieces. “I basically started the collection in 2013 because I wanted to try to create jobs in Africa,” she said. Incorporating eye-catching details such as fur trim and intricate beading, the shoes are handmade by artisans in countries including Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria, and are made with materials sourced locally as well. “I saw what some of the amazing people there were making and I knew that I could take some of those skills and turn that into really, really beautiful things.”
Congrats to James, Simkhai and Uribe on the historic win! Watch BET.com’s exclusive interview with James below.
(Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for Vogue and The Dubai Mall)