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soleRebels Handmade Eco-Friendly African Shoes

soleRebels slipons

Zenabwork, a small village community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is crafting some seriously funky footwear using 100% locally sourced materials. soleRebels is all about original sustainable footwear, exuding the same coolness that is attached to brands like Nike and Adidas. Pro ‘trade not aid’ the award-winning African shoes business is working to break the chains of dependency on aid, instead aiming to get people into work by creating jobs within the local community – which are often scarce. Founded in 2004 by Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, soleRebels has sought to harness the skills of local artisans by creating a sustainable, fair-trade footwear company that now has an increasing global presence.
 [Image credits: soleRebels]

Tapping into Ethiopia’s craft heritage, designs are inspired by the traditional ‘selate’ and ‘barabasso’ shoes that were made from recycled car tyres. The designs seek to re-imagine the styles by fusing them with artisan craftwork. Comfy flip flops and hip shoes are produced using materials such as recycled tyres, handspun and hand loomed organic fabrics, unique natural fibers such as pure Abyssinian jutes and KOBA (an indigenous plant); all with a focus on providing comfort and softness in the fit. Even the packaging is sustainable, made from recycled shipping cartons and the shoes are supplied in re-useable hand loomed cotton bags.
soleRebels flipflops

[Image credits: soleRebels]
Bethlehem’s desire is to create a global business with local roots and in doing so help create the type of sustainable development that will help drive the economic upliftment of marginalised communities across the continent. An inspiring story, read more about Bethlehem’s philosophy and vision for soleRebels here.
soleRebels shoes

[Image credits: soleRebels]
Additional Details:
Prices range from: USD$65-US$75 / £34.95-£44.95
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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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