Loafers for work and play

Men generally have a difficult time choosing the right of pair of shoe especially when price is a major factor. Should you go for sharp, boxy, round-tip or something in-between? Loafers are particularly a hard choice for people who spend all their time in formal settings. At the same time, most loafers barely fit smart casual category. For this reason, we decided to design a pair of loafer that blends elements of classic slip on oxfords and the creative ‘casual-ness’ of loafers.

Loafers for Work
The image below shows how our reality and functionality inspired loafer-oxford blend will look on you when in formal attire. It has the sharpness and crispness bringing out the smart but laid back look for any office in the land.

Loafers for Play
The same loafer worn in a totally play context still makes a bold statement for a shoe hand crafted right here in the suburbs of Nairobi. It is authentic, unique, charming. At the same time, it shouts silently shouts your ‘different-ness’.
If you are the kind of guy who only wants to carry one pair of shoe for your travels, this is it. Bantu loafer-oxford cross breed is fair game for business and for leisure. Get here; available in black and dark tan.

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If you are the kind of guy who only wants to carry one pair of shoe for your travels, this is it. Bantu loafer-oxford cross breed is fair game for business and for leisure. Get it here; available in black and dark tan.

Shoes that Breath

It has been a while since we last did a blog post. There has not been much interesting stuff to write about; we don’t do blog posts just for marketing. We do it to communicate meaningful progress.

There is a 73% chance that you are wearing your formal leather shoes because you have to. As soon as you are out of the office, you get into some easy casuals – fluffy and cushiony. Why do you hate your formal expensive leather shoes? We asked our customers informally about it. This is what they had to say:

  1. Formal shoes do not bend easily; they are rigid, feels like a container of feet.
  2. The soles though durable are hard and frigid.
  3. Formal shoes are too serious; too much formality and less ease
  4. Genuine leather alright; feels more like am wearing a tent!

We reduced the above to just three things: malleability, flexibility, aeration.

Google defines malleable as “able to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking”; flexible as “capable of bending easily without breaking”; and aeration as “to expose to the action or effect of air or to cause air to circulate through”.

In a nutshell, we went out of our way and designed a pair of shoe that:

  1. You can slip out of, step on, and still wear without much of a crease
  2. Bends and folds like running shoes without losing shape
  3. With holes that technically breath in and out without taking in water if rain were to catch you on your way home.

We introduce Bantu Cap Toe; malleable, flexible, and well aerated. A cost effective innovation driven by real customer needs, at a realistic customer price…

YOU ARE WELCOME.

It’s a New Year – 20% off all formal shoes

We don’t do happy new years or wish you any merry Christmas. We are Bantu, we buck the trend. However, we understand what seasons mean. It is a new year, but it is also January. Cash is short. Fees need to be paid. New resolutions need to be financed.

If you resolved to be smart and cut above the rest this year, we want to support that. Nothing makes a man more deliberate, self-assured, and confident than a brand new pair of well fitting shoes. Second hand shoes simply position you and entrench you as a second class everything. Second class citizen, second class employee, second class husband, second class student…

Order any formal shoe today from our website and get 20% off. Just remember to mention on the note section how Bantu can be better for 2016. This offer lasts till the end of January 2016. Shop Now. Enter coupon code 2016 on checkout to claim the offer.

After Sales Service and Life Span Support

One of the things we do not do is create or even follow trends. We hate trends; we simply don’t do things because they are the ‘in-things’; we buck the trend. At Bantu Shoes, we aspire to create functional things – things that solve practical problems. And have them solved for a long time.

When we design a pair of shoe, we consider first and foremost the use cases: extended walking, office scenarios, educational contexts, and occasional events amongst other contexts. Second, we strongly believe that shoes and indeed much of what men wear is devoid of vanity. How much different is the 1800s suit from the 2015 suit/tuxedo? Not much. Men and things masculine are supposed to be durable, enduring, loyal and entrenched.

Now, you probably have a pair of shoe that you love so much. It has served you well for a couple of years. It fits just right, wears right, shines right, and makes all the right things a shoe should. However, the sole is wearing out or the uppers got torn for some reason or another. You are essentially being forced to sever the relationship with your faithful companion for years. And you hate it. You’d rather have it restored than buy a new pair.

We are sorry we might not be able to help with your current predicament. However, for all of you who have established such a relationship with Bantu Shoes, we’re offering life cycle support for them. We promise to restore and keep the relationship going for years to come.

The Art of Shoe Making: A gradual revival.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Shoe making has gone full cycle. Originally and traditionally, footwear and indeed every other type of wear have always been bespoke. Bespoke in the sense that for one to own a pair of shoes, one had to engage with a craftsman; essentially an artist. This process entailed foot measurements, choice of material, multiple visits to the artist, and eventually a happy human with designed-to-fit shoes. Refer to this study “The boot and shoe trades in London and Paris in the long eighteenth century” by Riello (2002) of University of London on how shoe making and marketing has evolved since the 1680s.

Bespoke and custom made human wear is a global concept. It is something that happened everywhere in the hitherto disconnected world. The Mayans had their Shoe-smiths, London had her cobblers. Controversially, Africa also had its Shoe-smiths whose craft was as respected as that of her blacksmiths and herbalists. Mass production and mass consumption disrupted much of this for the masses. Nevertheless, it never died for the dukes and the barons. People with means have always had their own tailors, barbers, and interestingly Shoe-smiths as well.

Some of them are probably driven by hubris and desire to appear more equal. However, to majority of them it simply makes sense to adorn something that is designed with you in mind. Personal sensibilities and sense of identity means that footwear and clothing should be personal. Here in Kenya, our very own Duke of ‘Kabete-shire’, at 95 still wears bespoke head to toe.

However, the trend of bespoke and custom-made is gradually making a return to the masses. Across Europe and North America, bespoke is not ultra-luxury anymore. Bespoke has become functional; bespoke now means, this is designed to work for you. Here at Bantu Shoes, we have vision of bring bespoke back to everyone who has and wants to express his or her unique sense of personal identity, even brand if you want.

Our bespoke leather shoes will seek to bring the best of both worlds. We are currently working on a process to simplify the goodyear construction techniques patronized by some of the luxury brands such as Paul Parkman and Prada (see figure 2). We will also inculcate the sheer force of raw artisan-ship emblematic of African Sandal making.

Keep yourself posted, subscribe to our mailing list and be the first to get a shoe customized to your imagination.

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Introducing Bantu Moccasins

In the three years we have been selling shoes to Kenyans, we have gathered a tonne of feedback from buyers and would be buyers. We have interacted with people from all walks of life and from all parts of the country. We have even shipped a pair to South Africa where shipping costs was actually more expensive than the shoe being shipped. In all these interactions, the following points were overwhelmingly mentioned:

  1. Bantu we want softer soles that can stealthily walk late into the office.
  2. Bantu we want something that is easy on the feet,
  3. Bantu I want something I can slip into and out of hassle free
  4. Bantu we want something that can do suits and jeans both unquestionably

So, in the past nine months, we have been cooking something in our kitchen. We have consulted models and designs form leading global luxury houses. We have looked at the African feet, the largely absent built environment, and the mechanics of walking. In the past three months, we have given some of customers this shoe to test the structure, comfort and style.

Therefore, this December we are introducing Bantu Moccasins. You might be asking yourself, what is different about Bantu Moccasins:

  1. Soft sole: this gives it the sporty feel when walking.
  2. Sued leather interiors: this adds extra cushion to the walls of the foot
  3. Longer foot entrance and position. This allows the feet to breathe and aerate. It also makes it easier to slip in and out of the shoe without much hassle
  4. Stylish toe front that marks your presence in the every room you walk into

Check out and order Bantu Moccasins in Black and Dark tan today.

What Makes for a Comfortable Shoe? (Foot Anatomy and Structure)

The term ‘comfortable’ like most qualitative adjectives is highly relative. Some people consider high heeled shoes as ideal while others the flat thin sole is their thing. Similarly, some people prefer leather soles while to others soft or hard rubber is the only thing that can cut it. On Uppers (outer covering), genuine leather is the preferred material of choice. All of the above variables are essential to the making of a comfortable shoe. However, there is more to a comfortable shoe.

Years of shoe craftsmanship and human-centred approach to design has generally shown that comfortable shoes must take into account the following:

  1. Feet anatomy and mechanical structure
  2. Intended function
  3. Style and trends

Foot anatomy and mechanical structure is arguably the most important aspect in the design of comfortable shoes. In terms of shoe design, foot anatomy basically refers to how the feet is shaped, bone structures and generally how the foot supports the entire body. For majority of people, their foot anatomy looks like the image below.

 

At Bantu Shoes, our focus is usually on the pressure points namely: Fat pad, Lateral Plantar and Phalanges. The downward body force is largely expressed on the fat pad and during movement on the Lateral Plantar as well. Therefore, you would find that our shoes have anatomically designed and inbuilt insoles. This soft foot-pad provides adequate cushioning and support to the pressure points.

As such, when you pick a perfectly fitting shoe from Bantu Shoes, comfort is guaranteed. For those with largely narrow feet, we recommend Bantu Classics (available in dark tan and black). Some of our customers have described them as the best shoe they have worn in years.

Leather shoes are also Originally African

Encycolpedia.com, voted twice as the Best Online Consumer Information Service, audaciously claims that “most Africans did not wear shoes for much of their early history… bare feet was most common”.  Encyclopedia.com claims that there is no record showing pre-colonial Africa ever wore shoes. This is not only wrong; it is also smells of academic laziness and cultural arrogance. Majority of Africans have always worn leather shoes for centuries if not for several millennia.

The pre-colonial Nilotes and in particular the Luo had an elaborate footwear. Accounts from several old men in their mid 80s indicate that the Luo traditional leather shoes were made from hides extracted from the cows head. This was socked in milk fat to soften and lighten. The resultant leather was then traced into an individuals’ foot and carefully cut. Sisal ropes were then used to strap it around the feet.

My father wore these shoes as a child. Wearing those shoes was a practical necessity for herding thousands of my grandfather’s cattle. Anyone who has grazed cattle in the African Savannah would testify to the numerous species of thorns in existence ranging from Okuro to ongotho. In essence, the African leather footwear was an innovation born out of necessity. It is the British brand of colonial capitalism that killed the craftsmanship.

Here at Bantu, we see it as part of our mission to revive this traditional African approach to building functional shoes that actually solve a functional need. At the same time, we appreciate that 21st Century Africa is different and unique. We also believe that the African foot is magically different and special; the reason why you struggle to find shoes that are anatomically best-fit.

Check out Bantu Sleep-ons and Bantu Lace-Ups in black and dark tan; the shape is inspired by the magically special African foot.