If you’re a South African, then you probably grew up with Velskoens (pronounced: fell-skoon) but known affectionately as “vellies”. I never actually owned a pair and they pretty much remained “platteland” or farm shoes for a long time. Ancestors of the modern-day desert boot, Vellies were first made in the 1600s, inspired by the footwear of the Khoikhoi tribe and crafted using raw materials. Later, vellies were adapted by British travellers, packaged and renamed to be what we now know as desert boots. Over the past decade or so however, Vellies have been enjoying somewhat of a fashion revival, popping up in trendy stores and being worn by hipster surfers.
The latest in producers of hip Vellies is Namibian based Herbert Schier shoes. They are handmade by a small group of eight Damara gentlemen at the Swakopmund workshop, who assemble every shoe by hand, turning out just 20 pairs an afternoon. The shoes are made of vegetable-dyed Kudu leather. The Namibian government mandates the culling of these large native antelope to control their population. Kudu skin yields amazingly durable leather and suede that ages exceptionally well. Because these hides are taken from wild animals they often show scars or other "imperfections" that domesticated hides do not.
The range of shoes is pretty amazing and is accompanied by a striking lookbook shot by photographer Jason Hardwick.