Thursday, April 22, 2010

Osborne Shoes, lust and uneasiness.

 I've been wracking my brains trying to remember where I first saw those floral jazzies up there, but I've been totally swooning over them ever since. When I saw them again on Evie's blog today I took the chance to check out the rest of Osborn Shoes and was pretty smitten. The shoes are all made by a group of 21 artisans in Guatemala City, fair trade and with locally sourced and recycled materials (blankets, clothing and the like). I love that you can see the colour and traditional patterns in many of the shoes. Those booties up there are made from hand block printed cotton and the huipile jazzies in the middle are all one of a kind. Hand blocked printed cotton, people!

Osborne Shoes are such a fantastic example of the combination of art and function, and the fact that owners Carla Venticinque-Osborn and Aaron Osborn strive to provide meaningful and well paid work for people who live in an area that's economy has been nearly destroyed to fuel our desire for cheap crap, make me really happy*.  I also love that by looking at the range of prints and how much the collections seem to change, it looks like Osborne Shoes are really made with what is available at the time and that there has been a decision made to make things like huipil accessible to folks living outside communities who wear these traditional textiles in their day to day lives. 

On the other hand, I have to admit I feel a little weird about the Kente booties (yes, despite raving about them two paragraphs ago) because while aesthetically I think they're fantastic, Kente cloth has always a been a traditionally sacred textile. Of course it has become super recognizable and more common place over the years, I'm just not sure that it is anyone but the people of Ghana that get to decide how their textiles are used and whether or not they should become more accessible. Admittedly I'm saying this with absolutely no idea about how these particular textiles were acquired and used, but it makes me uneasy and I think it's important to raise these questions, you know?


*What doesn't make me happy is seeing Nylon describe some of the prints as 'native tribal' because it is just so unbelievably lazy and ethnocentric.
blog comments powered by Disqus