Made in Africa Sneakers for the Light at Heart

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SHOES. I LOVE SHOES. This is not an understatement. The women on both sides of my family LOVE shoes and footwear of all kinds. I recently inherited a pair of vintage Stuart Weitzman pumps from my late aunt, and it is such a fitting memento and reminder of her. 

But today I’d like to focus on a BIPOC-owned shoe brand which is doing amazing things in design and sustainability. 

Meet Panafrica – a casual sneaker shoe company perfect for anyone who loves a playful, functional, and very colourful vibe. Their sneakers range from easy plimsole-like slip ons with punchy colours to a more subtle and vintage sneaker range called the Arusha. (My personal favourite – also because you can send in your old shoes for recycling with this style!) They also have a collaboration with the legacy french brand Pataugas

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Panafrica strives to purchase all of its raw materials from within the African continent. For example, the majority of their wax suppliers are based in the Ivory Coast (the product is then shipped to France for reinforcement before being shipped to their manufacturing workshop in Morocco), the fabric is woven in Burkina Faso and they are manufactured in Morocco. Of course, this is oversimplified, each of these steps are outlined in greater detail on the Panafrica website, but this is such a signal to me that business can be done better, with intentionality for the local communities around it. Their workshop has been third party certified by the International Labour Organisation and to ensure longevity for the manufacturer, Panafrica commits to producing one collection over six months. 

10% of their profits are directed to partnerships with organizations that support education and job training in Africa. There is so much more to go into, but what is beautiful about this brand is that they share everything clearly and plainly on their website. I was truly impressed with the honesty and directness behind their content. The word “sustainability” doesn’t show up 1,856 times in random places, everything is clearly stated and the product is so uplifting to boot. (pun intended!) 

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Finally, my favourite part about this brand has to be their honesty in what challenges they are currently facing. These facts aren’t buried in a report that I had to dig for, they’re not followed by statistics of all the things they have done, they’re there, out in the open for all of us to reflect on. This, I love. No brand is perfect, but perhaps if we share our challenges, someone with a solution can make a difference. 

Some of their challenges which stand out to me are:

– transport issues within Africa. A lot of the cotton used for their footwear currently comes from Spain or France. They would like to focus on African suppliers to favour a fair trade exchange with small producers.

– moving away from leather

– a wish to strengthen their work in education and job-training as these go beyond local issues

On a more personal level, when they kindly offered me a pair of sneakers to try as a gift and I told them I already had a pair (I don’t take on more product when I don’t need it in an effort to reduce my consumption), there was no pressure at all to send me anything. This to me, shows a deep understanding of slow fashion and awareness of consumption. 

*this post was not sponsored, nor did I receive anything in exchange for it* (Although I look forward to owning a pair when my current sneakers are no longer fit for wear!)

As always, thank you for reading! 

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