June 30, 2010
These are beautifully crafted and worth every penny, I must say.
velskoen shoes, are known in Namibia and South Africa as the ancestor of the modern-day desert boot. Pronounced “fell-skoon” and known colloquially as “vellies,” the name has two derivations, “hide shoe” and ”bush shoe.” Hit the jump to read more about these shoes and see more detailed images.
Herbert Schier’s velskoen are made in the coastal town of Swakopmund, Namibia, at the Herbert Schier shoe factory. Herbert was a little boy when his German-immigrant family founded the first tannery in the country seventy-two years ago. Although the tannery is now defunct, the leather workshop remains. There, a production line of eight Damara gentlemen assembles every shoe by hand. Each worker makes a different component, and the group turns out 30 pairs a day. Since the Schiers started making them in the 1930s, their version of the velskoen has become the most widely worn in Namibia.
Every pair of Herbert Schier velskoen is made of vegetable-dyed Kudu leather. The Namibian government mandates the culling of these large native antelope, whose population would otherwise become unmanageable. Kudu skin yields amazingly durable leather and suede, and because Schier skins are taken from wild animals, each displays the unique life of the creature that gave it. They often show scars or other “imperfections” that don’t appear on domesticated animal hides.