Brother Vellies

“For these women in Africa, this is their story; they are their own way out of the cycle of poverty. With everything that’s going in America and with the election, we as women need to stand up for what we believe in.”


All images by Kirby Calvin

Brother Vellies creative director Aurora James is in her CFDA Fashion Incubator studio showing us the new spring collection. On the walls are gorgeous photographs of tribeswomen and African American women; on the windowsill sits a leather bag with a “The Future Is Female” patch on it.

And all around us are shoes and handbags created in companionship with traditional, indigenous craftspeople in South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and other parts of the world using sustainable, recycled and otherwise mindful leathers and other fabrications. Not an ounce of color, style or perspective is sacrificed.



Among the exciting new-for-spring brands at SPACE is the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund winner Brother Vellies. Designed by Aurora James and fabricated in collaboration with African artisans in developing communities, it’s a line of supremely wearable shoes that you can feel supremely good about wearing.


In a photo studio converted to a sort of butterfly house out on the Far West Side yesterday, Aurora showed how a recent trip to Ethiopia transformed her ideas about the language of women and really killer boots and handbags.



You know how fashion is: always on a slightly different calendar than the rest of the world. We’ll be lucky if we hit the mid-40s next week in Seattle, but on January 14 at the downtown flagship store, spring will have sprung—thanks to a very special pre-season event at SPACE, our Olivia Kim–curated shop for emerging and advanced designers.


Get on the warm-weather level with a head start on the coolest spring looks from brands such as Isa Arfen (pictured above, from last season’s New York Fashion Week presentation), Simone Rocha, Mira Mikati, Roksanda, Jacquemus and Brother Vellies.

Preview some of the collections and get the pertinent details.


What history will remember of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Class of 2015 is they were the ones who broke the rule—the rule that there can only be one winner.

Anna Wintour, Ricardo Tisci, Rio Uribe Amanda Seyfried, Diane von Furstenberg, Aurora James, Jonathan Simkhai, Steve Kolb

The stars of this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award ceremony

On Monday, November 2 at Spring Studios in New York, Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg announced, on behalf of a panel of judges that included Nordstrom fashion director Jeffrey Kalinsky, that due to the extreme nature of “authentic” talent in the mix, there would be not one but three winners in this 12th annual fashion competition.

We were there to catch exclusive commentary from past winner and footwear genius Paul Andrew and others, and to pass on the inspiring message from Givenchy‘s creative director Riccardo Tisci—the evening’s keynote guest.



The Brother Vellies springbok boots pictured above—part of our TMRW TGTHR Pop-In Shop—represent not one, but multiple acts of good karma. They create solid jobs for the skilled artisans who handcraft them in South Africa. They offer additional income for farmers providing the hides. They put materials to good use that would otherwise go to waste. They provide a consumer like you with high-quality footwear that will last for years. And, perhaps most importantly, they share a cross-continental story about people’s lives and cultures, which might otherwise go untold.

Keep reading to see more photos that Brother Vellies founder Aurora James (along with her stylish friends and their adorable offspring) shot just for us—and to hear Aurora’s thoughts on growing up in Canada, listening to your mother and the evolving definition of what it means to help people in need.

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Pop-In Store Visit: TMRW TGTHR

As much fun as we have building our Pop-In Shops on the Internet each month, you haven’t had the full experience until you’ve “popped in” (see what we did there?) to a real-life Pop-In@Nordstrom—i.e., offline and hands-on, at one of eight Nordstrom stores.

It’s the only way to fully grasp how unique the treasures are that Olivia Kim (our Director of Creative Projects and Pop-In Shop curator) searches far and wide for. Keep reading for a look inside our latest shop—TMRW TGTHR, a collection of goods that do good—and to find the participating Nordstrom location nearest you.

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What’s Up, Olivia: Goody Two-Shoes

heroOur Director of Creative Projects and Pop-In Shop curator Olivia Kim offers up daily inspiration, favorite products and things she’s super in love with right now.


Aurora James at Brother Vellies

“SOOOO cute!”