Style
Photo courtesy of Vidal Kenmoe.

Made In Africa: Shoes by Vidal Is the Brand Producing Hand-Made Luxury Footwear in Cameroon

We catch up with designer Vidal Kenmoe to talk further about his custom-made, Douala-based luxury shoe brand.

Vidal Kenmoe is the former British Royal Army officer who traded in his military know-how for shoe soles.

Despite still consulting for the army, he spends most of his time in Douala, Cameroon making, cutting and polishing beautiful footwear. Kenmoe founded Shoes by Vidal in 2016, boasting high standards of craftsmanship with each pair he produces. One look at his brand's overall aesthetic confirms just why these shoes have been in high-demand. Kenmoe happens to thrive in a fashion market where its people seek out luxury products abroad.

We catch up with Kenmoe to talk further about his inspiration, production process and more.


Audrey Lang for OkayAfrica: Where did the desire or passion to make shoes come from?

Vidal Kenmoe: My passion for shoes comes from two things mainly—my mother's love for shoes and fashion, as well as my time spent in the Royal Army, where a special interest was taken towards dressing.

How long have you been making shoes?

I have been making shoes since 2015. I learned the craft in 2013 and I'm still perfecting it.

What does it mean to you to employ the use of local artisans?

It feels good being able to contribute in that sense and to share my experiences with them and vice-versa.

Photo courtesy of Vidal Kenmoe.

Creating one shoe takes two to four weeks and involves over 100 steps. Is this true?

Yes, it does take a few weeks on average to design and manufacture a pair of shoes, but with experience that time can be reduced in half.

Where are the majority of your customers based?

My customers are spread out around the world but the majority are based in Douala, Cameroon.

Talk to me about the process of making a shoe that boasts such a high standard of craftsmanship.

It all starts with forming the right shoe last for the design required. Once the last is done, the next step is pattern cutting followed by clicking the leather (upper), followed by the sewing of the upper with the under and then molding (also called lasting) and lastly, the finishing.

Do you have partnerships with raw material sellers to access the genuine leather, suede, velvet calfskin and various fabrics?

No, I simply purchase what I need.

Photo courtesy of Vidal Kenmoe.

AgA by Vidal appears to have come later. Tell me about the line.

AgA is the sandals and accessories line. AgA does both male and female sandals and we're hoping to move into belts, watch straps, wallets, key rings holders and many other leather products. The motivation for AgA is the need to satisfy customers' demands for leather accessories (other than shoes) at an affordable price.

In 2017, you made a pair of shoes for Samuel Eto'o. Have you worked with any other notable figures?

Yes, I have provided shoes to several diplomats, professional athletes, MDs, artists and politicians.

What challenges do you face, apart from power outages, that halt your use of sewing machines and finishing bands?

Not many these days. We purchased a power generator, so power cuts are no longer an issue. My biggest challenge remains people's lack of education on handmade shoemaking.

You dwell in a country noted for a 1 percent that travels abroad for luxury goods and yet you create luxury shoes. How do you fare? What sets your shoes apart?

My designs are unique, my mix of materials—that include leather, suede, denim and African fabric—the discipline I put in the making, my attention for details, my focus on functionality which are mainly comfort and durability.

What else do you hope to accomplish as a young entrepreneur?

As a young entrepreneur, I would love to see my brand spread across borders and become a standard for shoemaking worldwide.

Kenmoe recently marked Shoes by Vidal's second year anniversary in Paris with a meet and greet and the launch of a new suede collection. Learn more about his new collection, his lines ShoesbyVidal and AgAbyVidal on Instagram and his website.

*

Audrey Lang is an alumna of Northeastern University and a Boston-based merchandiser who's enamored with all things fashion, art and Africa. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.

Interview
Photo: Ikenna Nwagboso.

Interview: E Kelly Tells It All In His New EP

We sit down with the Nigerian producer to speak about his new No Secrets EP and get some insight on his relationship with Mr Eazi, from trying to buy a phone from him to creating "Leg Over" and many other hits together.

Emmanuel Kelechi Nwosu, better known as just E Kelly, is a Nigerian record producer, songwriter, and A&R. It's highly likely than not that you've vibed to one of his songs. With twenty years as a producer and ten years active in the Nigerian music industry behind his belt, his contribution to Nigerian music and afrobeats as a whole is unquestionable.

E Kelly is the brain behind hits like "Omo Alhaji" by Ycee and the international smash "Leg Over" by Mr Eazi. He has a signature sound that has made him one of the most sought after afrobeats producers in the world over the years. Patoranking, Khuli Chana, Vanessa Mdee, Tekno, Wizkid, Naeto C, Ajebutter22, BOJ, Joeboy, and Major Lazer, are just a few of the names who have gone to E Kelly for a dose of his magic.

After a long and impressive run of producing afrobeats' best and brightest talents, E Kelly has finally come to terms with the idea that it's time to make some magic of his own. He's now presenting his debut project, a 5-track EP titled No Secrets.

No Secrets is an expression of vulnerability from E Kelly which sees him emerge from behind the scenes to present a carefully-curated set of songs from the producer's repertoire of unreleased music. From the featured acts, to the songwriting, to the production, everything about the project was selected and crafted under E Kelly's attentive watch.

All of his years in the industry have granted him the knowledge and experience of, not just how to make hits, but also how to make hitmakers. Because of that, he's the lead A&R for Mr Eazi's record label and distribution company emPawa Africa, where he's in charge of the artist development and creative direction of the label's artists.

E Kelly is afrobeats royalty, and we're excited to finally get a project of his own. Here, he speaks to OkayAfrica about the EP and we get an in-depth look into what No Secrets is about, how it was made, and some insight on his partnership and relationship with Nigerian singer Mr Eazi.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

'This Is One Too Many'—African Union Condemns the Murder of George Floyd

"The African Union is distressed to witness yet another unwarranted execution of another African-American male."