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Artisan Stories: Leatherworkers, Morocco

Leatherworkers, Morocco


Our leather slippers are hand-made by Hamid and his team in a family-run workshop in Morocco. Hamid has been making slippers for 10 years following patterns and methods that have remained virtually unchanged for centuries.

Morocco is a diverse country in North Africa with a landscape of rugged mountains, expansive deserts and a long coastline. Morocco's rich cultural heritage combines Berber, Jewish and Arabic roots with external influences from France and Spain. In 2004 new laws were passed to improve the status of women and children, but gender inequality and child labour remain problematic.

Leather


The traditional process for turning animal hides into supple leather has been the same for thousands of years. Firstly, the skins are soaked in natural ammonia and scraped smooth. The hides are then dyed with vegetable pigments such as indigo (blue), henna (orange), cedar wood (brown) and saffron (yellow). Finally, they are laid in the sun to dry.

How is it made?


In Morocco, our ladies slippers are known as 'babouche' which comes from the Persian words 'pa' (foot) and 'poosh' (covering). The leather pieces are cut out using templates and sole, inner and upper are hand-stitched around wooden moulds called lasts. The men's slippers are based on shoes traditionally worn by members of the Berber tribes.

How your purchase improves lives


Leather products have been traditionally-made in Morocco for hundreds of years. Supporting small-scale entrepreneurs, like Hamid, helps to secure the future of this craft for generations to come. Hand-made products are labour-intensive compared to mechanised production, creating more employment opportunities for local people as the business grows.

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Image credits: This Years Boy, lalo Fuentes, Keppet