Toronto-native and New Yorker-at-heart Aurora James founded Brother Vellies — an artisanal fashion brand which offers handcrafted shoes and accessories from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco — with the intention of keeping traditional African design practices alive.
Today, the designer has tapped her longtime friend and the CFDA's 2020 American Menswear Award winner Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder and creative director of Pyer Moss, for a full range of footwear, out now.
Both the men's and women's shoe collections arrive as part of Pyer Moss Collection 3, which Jean-Raymond first debuted on the label's King Theater runway presentation last year. The Collection 3 clothing, released earlier this month, arrived as the culmination of "American, Also" — Pyer Moss' three-part series designed to spotlight the often-untold narratives of Black peoples' integral contributions to American culture.
Collection 3 celebrates the legacy of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Black singer-songwriter who helped birth Rock 'N' Roll with her signature blend of spiritual lyricism and harsh rhythms. In her honor, several of the Brother Vellies by Pyer Moss iterations infuse artwork by the recently exonerated artist Richard Phillips, and each custom piece serves to commemorate Tharpe's pivotal mark on the music world.
James and Jean-Raymond directly collaborated on each silhouette, melding their respective design aesthetics into a singular, impactful identity across the range.
"I am proud of what my friend Aurora and I created," said Jean-Raymond. "Collection 3 was partly inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and other Black women in music so honoring their contributions by collaborating with Brother Vellies felt like home."