Conscious Fashion: Styles of Hope
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Everyone has a story and, in the case of Sseko Designs, so does every shoe. Handcrafted by women in Uganda, the stories behind these shoes are ones of hope. In a country impoverished by war and dominated by men, studying at a university seems out of reach for most women. Structured with a nine month gap between high school and university, Ugandans are to utilize this time to save enough money to pay for their secondary education. Unfortunately, finding fair work is difficult. Even if a woman finds work, she is likely to reinvest 90% of her salary back into her family; this leaves little money for tuition. Challenging this unfair cycle, Sseko Designs strives to provide the women of Uganda with an opportunity to pursue their dreams and overcome poverty. To do this, Sseko Designs has developed a work program that enables women to earn money during the nine month schooling gap.
Not only are the women provided with fair work, 50% of their salary is stored in a savings account until tuition is due. This may seem counterintuitive, but by storing their wages, the women are protected from the social pressures that often compel them to give away their money and which prevent them from saving for tuition. By treating more than just the symptoms of poverty, Sseko aims to break this vicious cycle. In the words of Sseko Designs: “These women will not make sandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war” (The Sseko Story).
Now that we know the story, let’s talk shoes. Sseko specializes in multi-fashion (yes, I made that up, but keep reading and you’ll see why) sandals. These sandals feature a genuine leather base and five loop points; the loop points are where the multi-fashion part comes in. Unlike ordinary sandals, the loops allow Sseko sandals to be styled in an endless number of ways. Styles such as the gladiator, classic flip-flop and arrowhead can all be achieved by weaving the straps through different anchor points. Not only do these shoes support a great cause, they embrace versatility, practicality and creativity all at once. What’s not to love about that?