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Weekday Wardrobe: Aurora James Knows Good Shoes

“I have a couple hundred pairs of shoes,” a claim that most fashion fans dream of one day sharing, is just another part of the life and work of Aurora James. As the founder and creative director of Brother Vellies, James not only has an enviable footwear collection but actually designs many of the shoes herself. Her initial inspiration, she notes, came after traveling through Africa. “I met a lot of artisans along the way and wanted to find a way to keep them employed,” she says, “so I began creating collections that utilized their unique skills.”

Since starting the company in 2013, James has earned the notice of peers, editors, and industry insiders alike. She won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2015 and is currently a member of the CFDA Fashion Incubator, but it still feels like James and Brother Vellies are just getting started, like there’s much more ahead.

As for any woman who owns and runs her own business, James has no defined 9-to-5 schedule, no two days are alike, and there’s a certain unavoidable blurring of personal and work life that occurs. Luckily, James’s sense of style lends itself to a world constantly in flux. “I don’t see a difference between on- and off-duty style,” she says. “I think there is so much about Brother Vellies that I have rooted in my own actual lifestyle that everything sort of blends.”

Of course, it’s impossible to work in the fashion industry without being acutely aware of the way women choose (and want) to dress. For James, this proximity has come to inform both her own way of dressing and her design choices. “I am more interested in personal style than trends and more interested in shoes you will own for a lifetime instead of just one season,” she notes, adding that working in the industry has encouraged her to build her own closet slowly instead of shopping fast fashion. “The best dressed people in the industry,” she says, “are those who are very aware of their own style and build on that.”

There’s a common thread between the way James dresses every day and the shoes and bags she creates for others. When asked to describe her personal style, James offers a response that could easily carry over as a descriptor of the Brother Vellies aesthetic. She views how she dresses as a reflection of how she sees the world: “romantic and whimsical and bold and full of texture and color.” Read on to see James’s weekday wardrobe in full.