Vivobarefoot is honoring the legacy of Jean-Michel Basquiat with a new capsule line of shoes that celebrates the late American artist’s “rebellious nature.”
“I see Jean-Michel Basquiat as one of the most unique and original rebels who questioned the status quo, and the world is crying out for more souls with such spirit,” Galahad Clark, the minimalist barefoot-footwear brand’s founder and CEO, told Sourcing Journal. “From our perspective, we don’t want to make shoes like everybody else, we want to make shoes that connect you to your sole— shoes that rewild the body, the mind and the planet.”
Part of the freshly minted B Corp’s broader Soul of Africa range, the leather slip-ons distill three of Basquiat’s instantly recognizable Neo-Expressionist pieces into designs for men, women and children, including one of his signature untitled heads and his “Pez dispenser” illustration of a T-Rex wearing a crown.
The shoes are works of art themselves: They’re hand-stitched, printed and embroidered in Ethiopia from wild hide, which the company describes as the “naturally scarred leather” of free-range cattle sourced from local small-scale farmers. Vivobarefoot works with Pittards, one the biggest leather tanneries in Africa, where it uses only hides and skins that are by-products of the meat and dairy industry and operates its own water treatment plant to avoid chemical pollution.
All of the shoes carry the Proudly Made in Africa seal, meaning they were independently verified for their quality, materials and ethical production. Part of sales will benefit Vivobarefoot’s Soul Of Africa project, soon to be renamed the Livebarefoot Foundation, a social enterprise that promotes employment, knowledge transfer and income generation through shoemaking. To date, the initiative has generated $2 million in wages and provided 18,000 school-aged children with education in South Africa, according to Vivobarefoot.
Available at select stores worldwide and online at vivobarefoot.com, the shoes cost $85 for the children’s version and $160 for the men’s and women’s styles.