“I just started thinking more about the issues that are surrounding the idea of black cinema and black designers having more representation.” – Aurora James
Growing up I never truly understood the importance of seeing representations of yourself on TV, in film, and in fashion. My mother always taught me about black history. I think because that was such a big part of my life I didn’t really understand how much it was missing from mainstream culture. Marvel Studios Black Panther has definitely brought up this tough conversation about representation, diversity, and inclusion. Black representation in film is essential and not just of any kind. You don’t want to only see yourself portrayed in a negative light, where you’re just the help or you’re always the criminal. It is essential to see positive depictions where you can be black yet be a superhero or a King, or a Queen. I believe a lot of people feel this way and Aurora James is definitely one of them, who is not afraid to openly discuss her feelings behind it.
James is the creative director and founder of the designer shoe brand Brother Vellies. The brand was founded in 2013 after James’ trip to Morocco. Brother Vellies aims to preserve the shoemaking craft in Africa and to creating new jobs for African artisans. The brand currently produces shoes in South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, and is all about collaboration. So, it made perfect sense to have James as one of the 10 designers who collaborated with Disney and Marvel for their special capsule collection featuring fashions inspired by the movie. James created four looks for the project. I chatted with James a bit about her collaboration and her thoughts on the film. Check out more from her below.
Can you tell us about your collaboration with Black Panther and Marvel?
Aurora James: They reached out to me over the summer and asked if I’d be interested in creating something special for the movie, so I said of course, and I didn’t really know initially what I was gonna do, and I think that it changed a lot over time.
Can you walk us through the creative process?
Aurora James: Well, I spent a lot of time looking at the creative assets and the trailers and all of that jazz. That was cool and I think some of the initial ideas sort of came from there and I sent sketches and everything. I think over the last 72 hours I just started thinking more about the issues that are surrounding the idea of black cinema and black designers having more representation.
What would you say was the overall inspiration that you took from the movie?
Aurora James: I think just the idea that it’s a black superhero movie, and I think I’m really hopeful that people really show up and that we can break a lot of records here, and really show that black movies with black actors actually have a huge audience base. And I hope we’ll be able to see more black content on television and the big screen, with big budgets.
Can you tell us about some of the materials that you used when creating these shoes?
Aurora James: One of my favorite materials we used is sisal, which is sourced from Africa. We use it all the time, and I always use a lot of feathers obviously, which I love.
This event was sponsored by Lexus, Lancôme and benefitted Save The Children.
Be sure to check out Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in Theaters now.