February 2021

How It's Made: The Lamu Mule

BLOG / How It's Made: The Lamu Mule

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Each and every pair of Lamu Mules are imbued with love. A love born from the carefully selected leather, delicate bead detail, and the experienced hands of the many craftspeople involved in making these mules by hand.

Effortless and essential to anyone's wardrobe these shoes are named after, and inspired by the Lamu archipelago on the eastern coast of Kenya. The islands are one of the oldest inhabited Swahili towns and with an ancient fort, carved wooden doors, and cobblestone footpaths, it’s not hard to imagine why UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site. Our Lamu Mules are designed to transport you to Lamu’s magical, mystical and timeless islands. 

Handmade in Maai Mahiu, near Kenya's Great Rift Valley it is the ethically-sourced, high-quality raw materials that truly set these mules apart. The deliciously soft hunting suede is sourced and processed by the Leather Industries of Kenya, one of Kenya's oldest tanneries located in Thika, an industrial town 26 miles northeast of Nairobi, Kenya's capital. 

The rawhide comes from an established and trusted network of cattle ranchers across Kenya. At the tannery the hide goes through multiple, masterful stages that separate, conserve, trim, soften, flatten and buff with dizzying efficiency and result in a softness and delicacy while also preparing the leather to be dyed in a variety of lush and bold colors in what seems like alchemy.

Once the suede is dyed, it is taken to the Ubuntu Maker Studio in Maai Mahiu where steel cutting dyes that look like cookie cutters are used to cut the leather into the shape of the shoe. Once cut, the leather is sent to various beading groups nestled under the Ngong Hills, where Ubuntu Life's Maasai Maker Mums deftly bead Ubuntu Life's signature orange and blue signature tab onto the leather. Once beaded, the suede is collected from the beading groups near Ngong and driven back to the Ubuntu Life Maker Studio where all the components of the Lamu Mules come together. 

First, the Ubuntu Life logo symbolizing the notion of 'Ubuntu' is heat-pressed at 93°F onto a tan leather sole. The leather sole is affixed to a traditional jute espadrille sole above a vulcanized rubber layer for durability and comfort. The leather is then carefully lined up to the sole of the mule and held in place by colorful sewing pins as it is hand-sewn with jute twine.

Once our Lamu Mule is complete it goes through a rigorous final check to ensure that it meets our Ubuntu Life Makers standard of excellence.

Before the shoes head out to their new home, packing paper is tucked into each shoe to ensures that it keeps its shape. The mules are then slipped into a natural cotton shoe bag that is hand screen-printed ‘Made with Love from Kenya’ and sent on their way to you!



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December 23, 2021

Very interesting and informative.


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