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.

News Brief
Photo: Getty

Here's What You Need To Know About The Political Unrest In Sudan

Thousands have been protesting the Sudanese government over the weekend, supporting the military's plans for a coup.

Sudan's transitional government is in turmoil as thousands of citizens conducted a sit-in protest against them, over the weekend. A group of Sudanese citizens have called on the military to disestablish the nation's current government, as the country struggles with the greatest crisis they've seen since the end of former dictator Omar al-Bashir's controversial ruling, two years ago. The weekend's pro-military protests come as anti-military protestors took to the streets earlier this month to fight for civilian-ruled laws.

Military-aligned demonstrators assembled outside of the famously off-limits entrance of the Presidential Palace located in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday. Gatherers set up tents, blocking off access to two main intersections, cutting off access to the capital for those inside. Police attempted to wave off crowds with teargas, with Khartoum state officials saying they had, "repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government," in a statement issued Monday.

The assembly was called for by a coalition of rebel groups and political parties that support Sudan's military, accusing the civilian political parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power under their ruling. Demonstrations began on Saturday, but Sunday's gathering saw a lower attendance. According to Reuters, by Monday afternoon, thousands, between 2,000 - 3,000, had returned to voice their concerns. 52-year-old tribal elder Tahar Fadl al-Mawla spoke at the helm of the sit-in outside of the Presidential palace saying, "The civilian government has failed. We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition." Alongside a 65-year-old Ahman Jumaa who claimed to have traveled more than 900 kilometers (570 miles) from Southern region Nyala to show his support.

Protesters are demanding the appointment of a new cabinet that is "more representative of the people who participated in the December 2019 revolution that eventually led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir", Al Jazeera reported from Sudan. Protesters headed towards the Presidential Palace, where an emergency cabinet meeting was being held when they were met by police forces.

Pro-civilian political parties have plans for their own demonstration on Thursday, the anniversary of the 1964 revolution that overthrew Sudan's first military regime under Ibrahim Abboud and brought in a period of democracy that the country still struggles to uphold.

Sudanese Twitter users shared their thoughts online, with many drawing similarities between the current unrest and other political crises the nation has faced.

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