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Brazilian slow shoes: handmade, hand-dyed, reused-tire soles

Juliano Lima believed in the skills of his countrymen, but he knew that few Brazilian crafters had the resources to bring their work to a larger market. He wanted to create a global brand of leather shoes that were not only handmade, but made without chemicals- for dyes or tanning (i.e. chrome).

He traveled over 8,000 kilometers through Brazil looking for artisans who knew how to craft and dye leather the old way. In the state of Ceará he found leather-workers whose hand-made process dated from the sixteenth century. Here they were still tanning leather without using chrome.

“Our main desire as a brand is to rescue manufacturing cultures & ancient clothing products that are being lost through times and insert them back into the market.”

To move beyond the colors of brown and black, he pushed to find a way to color his shoes with natural dyes. To create a more sustainable sole, Lima’s team began experimenting with using old tires, eventually creating a tool to craft the tires and separate the rubber from the steel wires.

Today Caboclo is made up of Juba and his brother Leonardo. The Brazilian “social-environmental designer” Paula Dib heads up material, product and design development, but Juba is quick to point out that all 60 artisans in the cooperative are also “designers” and are encouraged- through educational benefits- to become entrepreneurs themselves.

The Caboclo team now produces shoes tailored to trends in New York, Paris, Barcelona and London. Today, there are two stores in Barcelona (one crafted from recycled shipping pallets that Lima scavenged from the nearby port) and the shoes are sold in the United States, Canada, Japan, Finland, Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

*Music by master artisan Francisco.

You can also read the text above in Portuguese as well as the entire video transcript into Portuguese (comments below).