Actor Idris Elba, his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba, and Egyptian-French fashion designer Christian Louboutin have teamed up on a charity shoe collection that will land in stores today, June 16. Lending their voices to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that sparked worldwide protests in May 2020 after the death of George Floyd, the 19-piece collection aims to raise awareness of, and funds for, disadvantaged black communities. Hundred percent of the proceeds obtained will go to five charity organizations chosen by the trio.
Named Walk a Mile in My Shoes, the capsule provokes you to empathize. The powerful phrase is written in a cursive script running down the side of Louboutin’s signature red-soled So Kate stiletto and inspired by words from a Los Angeles memorial to 20th-century African-American activist Martin Luther King Jr. The collection consists of pumps, sneakers, bags, belts, and a boot.
In addition to the pared-down, impactful calligraphy, the collection also carries a vibrant, colorful print that is inspired by the bird of paradise flower from South Africa. The plant species is also known as Mandela’s Gold, named after South African leader and black rights activist, Nelson Mandela.
In an interview with Vogue Arabia, the trio has a heart-to-heart on their friendship, what the collection means to them, and how their noble cause fights for social justice, education, and gender equality.
What brought you together for this project?
Louboutin: It was totally by accident; I was in Portugal when George Floyd died. Like the rest of the world, I was shocked by what was happening. A few days later, I started reading about Opal Tometi, the BLM movement’s co-founder. She was live on Instagram with Idris and Sabrina to discuss the events. I felt so proud of my friends for using their voice for this cause and to speak out; the Instagram live was such a powerful and intense moment for me. I really had a rough night that day, thinking of how we could help at our level. So, the day after, I called Idris and Sabrina, to first tell them I was proud of them, and to discuss about what we can do to actually help the cause.
As friends, you came together to make a claim on what you believe; why was it so easy for you to do this? So many people struggle to do this in a time where they don’t know what to say or do due to cancel culture.
Dhowre Elba: I think that a lot of respect should be given to Christian to carry an entire brand and just be unashamedly in support of a cause. You speak of cancel culture, which is something that usually brands can worry about, but this should not be a factor; you should be able to stand for what you want to stand for. Christian fights the fight and it’s one of the reasons why we’re really close friends as well, because he is a genuine and an authentic person, and he cares about everyone around him.
Louboutin: You know…we also had this question which is often asked to people: how do you like to be remembered? We had this conversation with Idris and Sabrina. On my side, I do not want to be remembered as a designer necessarily. I would rather be remembered as a nice guy who actually tried to help people when he could, the way he could. I am sure everyone can feel happier when trying to make a difference and helping people.
What messages do you want people to take away from this collaboration?
Elba: The message we wanted to share with people is that of solidarity and hope, but the idea is also to use our voice and platforms to create and promote dialogue on such a strong cause that needs visibility.
Why it was so important to unlock empathy?
Elba: It’s about the contribution; some people can contribute by protesting, some people can contribute by turning legislation, some people can contribute by offering money, but the intention of the contribution what is important and, as Christian said, the intention made him think “how do I sleep tonight?” Many brands have stood up and set off stuff. For us, the intention and contribution feel like one thing, and our intention is to contribute to the moment. The whole intention with this project is to fly a flag and say that we are thinking about this and we want to do something. Secondly, what is good about this is to utilize this moment in spotlight…it’s an important thing to keep talking about it.
What does the freedom flower represent?
Dhowre Elba: It’s called the Mandala’s Gold, it’s my favorite flower, and now, every time I travel the world and I see the flower, I snap it and I send it to Christian. It’s a symbol of peace and hope for so many people around the world, and it was also important for us to highlight some positive images as well as the pain and struggle. That flower, to me, symbolizes the beauty of struggle, of the perseverance of people who have gone through this struggle. It’s just such a beautiful symbol of authenticity and seeing it on a So Kate to me is just a dream.
Louboutin: The name is also a great name and is directly attached to the organization we are working with that tries to give more freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement. But the message is also about happiness and positivity.
Could you elaborate on the proceeds of the capsule collection?
Louboutin: When we started to talk about that, it’s something that needed to be done in a very durable way first of all, but also to be fully dedicated at every level, which means that all the funds go 100% to the organization. Like this, it’s clear that it has nothing to do with the House or us. This time we are 100% dedicated.
Dhowre Elba: I mean, when we were first having this conversation, there was so much about the cause that was questioned, and what I love about what Christian is doing is that every dollar from this collection is 100% is donated to the cause, which is so unique that it is fascinating!
Elba: Again, it is about the intention, and I believe our intention is pure. We have chosen organizations essentially trying to help people directly affected by oppression, racism, and inequality.