Anyone who have ever tried to find fashionable vegan shoes that are also made with the environment in mind knows the struggle. There is Veja, of coarse, and Matt & Nat and Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, but after that you sort of end up in a void of deeply unattractive footwear. Even though many clothing brands (especially small and independent) have come pretty far by now, the mindful actors in the shoe industry are still way behind. Aesthetics is everything, never forget.
This brings us to Rafa – a luxe and eco-friendly footwear label built on three main principles: it’s made in Los Angeles; it’s vegan; it’s sustainable. Founder and creative director Taghrid Zorob had two things in mind when starting out: she wanted to create beautiful things that are good for both people and environment, and she wanted to make timeless shoes that you can wear today, in five, ten or 25 years, and that will remain relevant and in good shape over this time. “The shoes are made to be high quality, comfortable and worthwhile having”, Taghrid tells Antibad in a filmed interview, “shoes that you can do all your mom duties in.”
Almost all Rafa shoes are made-to-order and handmade in a small factory located in the outskirts of Los Angeles by a group of about 20 artisans, many of whom are second or third generation shoe makers. The process starts with Taghrid making a drawing of what she wants the shoe to look like from the top, sides and bottom. Then the last gets made by hand, and the shoe itself is crafted from ultra suede – a textile that is engineered out of 80% recycled fibers coming from things like old PET bottles. The heel is crafted from reclaimed wood that is hand cut and sanded to the right width and shape before being covered with the same textile as the rest of the shoe.
The result is a fun and fashionable footwear collection featuring perfect minimalist sandals, slip-ins and booties in poppy colors and timeless neutrals that will either melt in or stand out in your warm-weather shoe closet.
Brand to Watch is our regular dispatch of standout labels merging ethics with aesthetics.
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