Your everyday wardrobe could be a source of inspiration. For a perfect example, you need not look further than key examples such as the kanga, kikoy or kiondo basket. For the longest time, many of us in the East African region used them everyday but never really saw them as fashion.
But with a little ingenuity and a modern perspective, you could have a fresh concept on your hands. Adhiambo Mula-Lauwers grew up in the sunny coastal region of Mombasa, Kenya, were sandals, such as the Maasai sandals and strappy shoes made from tyres known as Akalas, were the norm. Nevertheless, she had the idea that we could, in fact, express individualism through something so mainstream. “Why not change colour, style, texture? What if we could make 7 different styles with one shoe? One for every day of the week?’ she elaborated in an interview with Business Star Africa. From this, Galago was born, setting up roots in South Africa in 2012.
Adhiambo already had a rich history in the fashion industry, having been a model for seven years and then a fashion producer at SA Fashion Week and African Fashion International. But thanks to her entrepreneurial spirit, which she inherited from her mother, and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, she decided to embark on the production of local, quality footwear. The result was a fashion brand that offered two style varieties: customized and ready to go.
“Design-your-own” concept footwear
Sseko aren’t the only kids on the block that give you options when it comes to sandals. Galago takes the traditional techniques and craft of braiding, knitting, beading and leatherwork and then adds the element of customization to allow individual styles to be embraced. Working with a quality leather sole that’s padded for extra comfort, the uppers come interchangeable, using a design-registered technique. A client has the option of utilizing fabrics, knits, beading or leather accessories and adding them to their sandals to make final product. More recently, Galango incorporated straps and rope detail, in addition to embellishments such as shells, metal studs and raffia flowers.
But if you’re the customer who wants a finished product that’s fashion oriented with pops of personality, she has that covered too. The label has a range of loafers, slip-ons and pumps with the same handmade care, made by raw materials sourced right from South Africa. Both ranges are made by local South African women in a studio in downtown Johannesburg in line with Galago’s principle of sustainability. It’s also in a bid to recognize and invest in African wealth.
Change is a constant, and that’s not an exception in fashion. By reworking a norm in her life, Adhiambo was able to prepare and adapt a conventional concept into a customer-focused, fashion footwear brand that’s built and inspired around Africa. By giving the customer versatility, the brand isn’t just providing options when it comes to pairing with the summer wardrobe, but it’s also playing a small role in helping the environment. More options, upper wise, means less soles being deposed. As she reiterates on her website, “In allowing the customer to design her own style, a trend-cum-practice perfectly suited for our 21st Century mindsets, [we’re giving them] the right to choice [which] has become a fundamental human right!”
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