Sarah Rogers and Alper Malkoc came up with the idea for launching their own range of footwear a few years ago, after purchasing a pair of traditional Anatolian shoes from an artisan market in Istanbul during their travels. “We fell in love with them. They became our favorite shoes, and we have been wearing them for every occasion since then,” said the design duo over email to Vogue.me. “A lot of people would always ask about them, so we decided to just launch our own collection of shoes.” Handmade in Gaziantep, a city in South Eastern Turkey, by a local shoemaker, Babel & Co.’s debut range of footwear features beautifully crafted, hand-stitched espadrilles, sandals, and slip-ons, made from four different types of high-quality leather, all ethically sourced from Turkey.
The inside of the shoes are embedded with soft lamb leather, to provide ultimate comfort; Calfskin and cow leather is used to craft the body of the shoe, and thick buffalo leather is utilized for the outside of the sole to ensure that each design is durable and long-lasting. The leather of each shoe molds to the wearer’s foot, meaning that each pair is unique, while the thread used for stitching is natural cotton coated with beeswax.
“We work with a small family business of artisans, each of whom specialized in one specific aspect of the production, implementing a 600-year-old savoir-faire technique transmitted from generation to generation,” explain the DJ and events planners turned designers. “It’s a physically demanding craft, and it takes years of experience to master this shoe-making technique.”
When it comes to their business model, the eco-conscious design duo aim to be as sustainable as possible. Each pair, which takes two days to craft, comes packaged inside a biodegradable jute bags, which can then be reused for traveling or grocery shopping. “We avoid selling the shoes in boxes as much as possible,” they say, stressing how important it is to them to minimize their impact on the environment in any way they can.
Ranging from AED 720 to 630, Babel & Co.’s range of ultra-wearable footwear can officially be purchased online since the designers have just launched an all new e-commerce website this week. In addition, the brand is known to participate in pop-ups in department stores across the UAE such as Galeries Lafayette, Robinsons, and Tryano in Abu Dhabi. “One of our objectives would be to open a Babel & Co. shop in the future. To have our own space… Our own little universe.”