Happy feet

The hottest movement in fashion at the moment is sustainability, and this brand hits the mark. Moroccan shoe brand Zyne supports fair trade and sustainable practices, and every piece is handmade by underprivileged women, to help them provide for their families – what’s not to love?

If that is not enough to draw you in, then maybe the fact that the brand got Meghan Markle’s seal of approval will do it for you. Back in February, during a trip to Morocco, the Duchess of Sussex came across the brand and even reportedly purchased two pairs of shoes during her visit.

We interviewed Laura Pujol, one of Zyne’s co-founders to learn more about the sustainable brand that needs to be in your closet.

 

 

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Tell us the story behind your brand. When did you launch Zyne? What was the idea behind starting it?

After our studies in Paris, we decided to come back to our country to create a social project together. We wanted to give back to our community by creating jobs, improving their skills but also train them as much as we can so our Moroccan women can become independent. That’s how ZYNE started 3 years ago. We wanted to take a cultural product from our society and bring them a modern touch and conquer the world with it. 

What is unique about Zyne?

We are a social company that is focused on helping Moroccan women in underserved communities while building a sense of confidence and self-worth through their work. Our goal is to preserve and promote our Moroccan heritage by encouraging more women to learn traditional Moroccan embroidery techniques so that they can be passed on for generations to come. In this way, we are bringing a modern touch to traditional Moroccan footwear and hopefully contributing to the longevity of the babouche. 

 

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How important is the concept of sustainability to your brand? How does Zyne support sustainable practices?

The Moroccan environment is polluted with plastic waste. A few years ago, among a few other African countries, Morocco banned the use of plastic bags. Even a women’s cooperative in Morocco decided to make a change in their environment through using plastic bags and traditional weaving methods to create beautiful fashion accessories. This cooperative also aims to raise awareness on the negative environmental impact of plastic waste.

Our shoes are handwoven by skilled artisans using very detailed and methodical processes. Each shoe can take two or more people half a day or longer to complete. We only work with small atelier and suppliers to ensure that we are contributing to the local economy.

We aim to only use the materials that we need to produce a pair of shoes. Our shoes are made consciously through integrating dead-stock leather derived from luxury factories. This significantly reduces production waste in Morocco. This creates a trickle down effect: Less unused materials go to landfills which allows for less landfill space to be used therefore preserving our energy and water ultimately creating a better environment to live in.

Our responsibility to the Moroccan environment is something we don’t take lightly. In every process of our production, we take into consideration how it will make lasting effects in our community down the road. We have substituted plastic bags with non-woven, reusable, fabric bags and also use biodegradable paper bags.

Our mission to work with artisans on ancestral techniques that was going to disappear, preserving the culture while also helping to create a better environment.

 

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How does Zyne work towards giving back to the society?

We have a direct relation with our craftsmen. Together, we collaborate to overcome new challenges and explore traditional Moroccan handworks. That’s where we get our inspiration! Our artisans are a powerhouse in adding a 100% handmade modern touch to every unit. This is to innovate our designs and assure high-end finishing. Ancient handmade techniques are always present in our creations. It’s what makes Zyne unique and authentic!! 

Why have you chosen Raffia for your Spring/Summer 2019 collection?

Our base materials are 100% natural meaning that they are biodegradable. If our shoes must be sent to landfills, then we have ensured that the materials used can be decomposed. Raffia is a natural fibre. The harvesting of the raffia palm leaves, the dying, and the packing are done manually by locals with the utmost respect for the environment.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge we had in starting our business was finding the right business partners to work with in Morocco. We were determined to produce a 100% made in Morocco product. From craftsman to suppliers, we had to find the best artisans possible and work with them to establish high quality standards. Shoe manufacturing is not super developed in Morocco, so the level of sophistication in finishings and attention to details that we were looking for, was not readily available and had to be taught.

 

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What has been your biggest achievement to date?

This year it would be winning the Fashion Trust Arabia among amazing designer and also meeting Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to present our universe. 

What is the creative process like?

Our artisans are in the heart of our process, everything is in the connection with the people when I create a collection it always start with a discussion with my artisans, exploring what we didn’t explore yet, what interests them, what they know how to do or what they want to learn. And of course we also want to be on trend and sells our product to an international scene.

There is superhuman quality about cohesiveness and it’s something that machines can’t gives us. And we believe to give back to the basics. Human disappears from the production process and we want to reintroduce them in a way. Once the sample is realised, the assembling is made by cobbler master in his own initiative where he teaches the craftsman work to new apprentices. Our product is 100% handmade from the design to the conception.

 

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How much does your background and culture inspire your shoes?

Every city here in Morocco has its own techniques, Fez, the most ancient city in Morocco has its own special technique, as does Rabat and Meknes to name a few. Our shoes incorporate designs from multiple cities, thereby encompassing a sense of Morocco as a whole nation in each shoe. We’re inspired by the souks of Morocco, which are so rich in culture and craftsmanship, and the Zyne babouche itself is an ode to Moroccan heritage. Our shoes combine this heritage aspect with European quality of material and embroidery. It is the co-existence of these qualities that we are trying to convey through the label. Zyne produces beautiful cross-culture shoes.  

Working for major French brands, we have a strong appreciation for the discipline and rigour it takes to sustain brand excellence. It also takes a special kind of passion and appreciation for the craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into creating a luxury product.

How can people get their hands on your shoes?

We have different retailers online and stores but you can find all our new collection in our website, www.zyneofficial.com  

What is next for the brand?

We are about to about a bigger cooperative to have more people and train them. We want them to exchange their skills and learn from each other. The one who beads maybe she could also handwoven, we want them to be multi tasks and answer the demand.

On the business side, we feel that this is the moment to strengthen our relation with our customers and get to know better them. We want to make pop ups around the world to have direct feedback from them and understand their behaviour. 

 

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