It’s often said that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but accessory brand Matsidiso was born from breaking this rule. Co-founder Jinae Heyns knew that her mother-in-law’s shoe factory had potential for a new life, after operating for more than two decades. The business pivoted from making dance footwear primarily to expanding the business to focus on ethically-made, artisan created shoes and accessories for the South African consumer. The business’ core experts have not changed, meaning that this new chapter has been guided by cobblers with over 35 years experience in their trade. It’s a supremely local operation – from the family-driven ethos to the choice of design styles, which make use of traditional materials and patterning, with products that feel very ‘at home’ against our natural landscapes.
While the shoe business remains their best known, the inclusion of stylish, sustainably-made accessories has opened the business to new ideas, consumers and further potential. Jinae explains: “Working with a trust of women in Cape Town and in collaboration with design house, UGLEE, each bag is carefully crafted using only the finest leathers and materials that are locally sourced or created in-house. Quality and original designs that divulge a rich history of Africa are the essences of each design, nothing has been left out”.
In addition to the commercial arm of the brand, Matsidiso also hopes to make an impact on its community through its Shoes For the Liberated, which seeks to raise funds to educate local communities about sustainability and engender more earth-friendly living through information.
In Jinae Heyns’ words
Our shoes and bags are made from locally sourced leathers and fabrics from suppliers with whom we have a deep relationship. An understanding of their processes is mandatory. Every supplier is equally vetted and we personally know the leaders of each organisation and their ethos and efforts to fair trade and what sustainability measures they have put in place.
We believe that when making the perfect footwear, leather still ages better than any other material, and that leather isn’t the issue, but how we use it and where we source it matters a great deal. We have worked non-stop over the last three years to create a product built to last. This means using components that are as natural as possible, while considering their longevity. We use vegetable tanned leathers for our soles, a recycled resin for our heel caps, and make use of local woods for our heels. We use the Knysna blackwood which is an invasive species in Knysna’s national forests. Therefore, using a material that requires removal to preserve the local forests in Knysna, but is still natural, beautiful, and safe to use without causing any harm to the local environment.
Furthermore, we upcycle and recycle our leathers so as to reduce waste and realise an opportunity to be creative in-house with the excess pieces. We continually recycle our packaging where we can, but use only cardboard boxes, tissue paper and our own cotton Matsidiso Shopper to pack our bags in. Finally, we provide end-to-end customer care by offering customers-free repairs on their shoes. Should resin wear down or a rivet come loose, we are happy to repair our products free of charge. This has been in place since the day we started.
Longevity to us is not only about the product, but about the people that we have the opportunity to connect with and build relationships with every day.
Matsidiso is the winner of the Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020 Accessories category
- Images: Supplied
- For more information visit the Matsidiso website here