MADE IN AFRICA: CONNECTING AFRICAN RESOURCES WITH AMERICAN SNEAKER CULTURE
THIS IS AN ONGOING PROJECT, CHECK IN FOR UPDATES FROM TIME TO TIME!
Deconstruct several pairs of shoes from multiple brands with the intent to reconstruct them using materials sourced from the African continent, to illustrate the cultural connections within American sneaker culture and various African resources, designs, and culture.
- Educate people on various cultures in Africa and the inspiration and influence within sneakers they have
- Dispel the racism-based American myth that "Africa is a resource-less continent"
2 weeks of research in ghana
After completing a 6-week Design/Build Architecture program with Miami University in Ghana in West Africa, I stayed behind for an additional 2 weeks to do research in handmade footwear construction, and West African textiles and fashion. I wandered through the Kumasi Central Market, the largest open-air market in Sub-Saharan Africa, searching for the perfect textiles for my shoe designs. I bought hand-tanned and dyed goat leather from a merchant in the northern city of Bolgatanga. I learned the basics of Kente cloth weaving from artisans in the town of Bonwire. The highlight of the trip was getting the privilege of working under Mr. Boakyi Anseh, a very successful shoe cobbler who taught me his skills in using upcycled materials to make luxury dress shoes.
working with boakyi in kumasi
Boakyi is known in Ghana for his upcycling cobbling. He imports used women's boots from the US and Europe, cut off their soles and lays the uppers flat, then proceeds to cut them into pattern pieces he needs for his shoes, disregarding the seams and designs already there. The outcome is a unique pair of men's or women's dress shoes with unexpected designs and overlays on them - no two pairs are alike.
kente cloth research in bonwire
my design mock-ups
As of right now I have selected which shoes I wanted to use to coincide with certain West African textiles I collected, as well as come up with a few preliminary mock-ups of how I want a few pairs to look like. Several pairs of completed shoes and matching apparel are also shown below.
jordan 1 "market place"
Inspired by the colors and textures of the Kumasi Central Market
(Left): A design for the packaging paper of the Market Place Jordan 1s. Its made up of pictures of storefronts I took throughout Ghana. Many of them are of religious origin, and speaks to how intertwined faith, business, and daily life is even within Ghanaian culture.
adidas superstar "twi stripes"
Named after the main language spoken in Ghana, Twi (prounouced "chree")