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Documentary highlights success of Soul of Africa initiative

Shoe brand Vivobarefoot is launching a marketing campaign and new style in its Soul of Africa range, handmade in Addis Ababa in a Pittards factory, using leather from the Pittards tannery.

Soul of Africa shoes are made on a production line set up by Vivobarefoot and Pittards in 2017 which employs more than 100 people and sustains around 400 people along the supply chain.

A mini-documentary follows one of the first trainees, who joined the project in 2017, and the new style, Addis, is a retro lace-up featuring the distinctive footprint sole.

The shoes are made from Pittards ‘Wild Hide’, sourced from small holdings in Ethiopia.

“Soul of Africa is an initiative at the core of the Vivobarefoot mission,” said co-founder Galahad Clark. “Ethiopia is going through a fast-paced industrialisation and we are proud to be part of that with a transparent, socially responsible business.

“The story has just begun, and we are planning to continuously improve the supply chain and wellbeing of the communities involved. The Ethiopian production will be used as a model for how Vivobarefoot would like to take regenerative shoe making to the world.”

Soul of Africa was launched in 2003 by Lance Clark, Galahad’s father and a sixth-generation member of the family that founded the famous Clarks footwear brand. It uses shoe-making to alleviate unemployment in Africa and devotes a share of its profits to education and arts projects across the continent.

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