Hand-Carved Wooden Heels Offer Style Through Ancient Traditions

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

If you’re like most people, then you like to look good. The easiest way to do that is through clothing and accessories.

But sadly, many high-end clothing and accessory companies unethical practices to manufacture their goods, underpaying workers and even employing children.

Designer LanVy Nguyen had enough of it. She wanted to prove that fashion could be luxurious and beautiful without exploiting anyone, and so her brand, Fashion4Freedom, was born.

The shop uses recycled materials, like metals extracted from old electronics, to create their items, donates unused materials to schools, and offers business lessons to impoverished women to help them start their own businesses.

The shop carries high-end accessories, like clothing for men and women, jewelry, and the most impressive collection of all — shoes.

Shoes have always fascinated designers and wearers alike, ever since ancient times. And Nguyen is taking amazing shoes to the next level — and not just because hers have a six-inch wedge!

The shoes at Fashion4Freedom have wooden platform soles, hand-carved using ancient Vietnamese techniques. This way, they’re not only ethical and beautiful, but are also helping to carry on a generations-old art form.

Check them out below, and let us know which design is your favorite in the comments!

[H/T: My Modern Met]

Designer LanVy Nguyen believes that luxurious fashion doesn’t have to mean exploitation for the people making it. Her fashion company, Fashion4Freedom, produces high-end clothing and accessories while still maintaining a strict ethical code.

Nguyen also promotes traditional Vietnamese crafts, such as the ancient craft of wood carving.

Concerned that these ancient traditions were being subsumed by increasing globalization, Nguyen devised a modern and functional way to keep it alive, by turning it into a platform shoe!

And while these shoes are tall, they’re actually completely wearable, and each one weighs less than a pound.

Each pair is also hand-carved using ancient designs and techniques. The carvings can also be painted by lacquer artists, as seen on this colorful design. Lacquer art is also an ancient artistic tradition.

Other designs are more simple, but no less striking.

Nguyen sees these shoes as a perfect synthesis of antiquity and modernity, and as a way to preserve cultural traditions and identities in a modern world.

Each pair is made to order and takes anywhere from 18 to 22 days to complete. The uppers are made from leather, and the bottoms are protected by rubber soles.

And because they’re handmade to order, they can also be customized to be as comfortable as possible on your feet.

Ancient crafts that once sustained livelihoods, defined cultural identities, and endured centuries of transformation are quickly, and quietly, losing the battle against the globalized economy,” Nguyen explains.

“Fashion4Freedom pays homage to the longevity and resourceful collaboration that built these traditions by instilling modern ingenuity within ancient craftsmanship, with a vision of the deliberate and delicate revitalization of global cottage industries.”

In addition, all unused materials are donated to orphanages and schools. Fashion4Freedom also offers women in local villages business lessons and crafting techniques so that they can start their own trades and escape the cycle of poverty.

Besides shoes, Fashion4Freedom also offers jewelry like this hand-carved wooden bracelet. Other jewelry is made from metal extracted from old electronics, thus cutting down on waste and pollution.

You can see more of Fashion4Freedom’s items on their website, as well as on Etsy. And be sure to SHARE these amazing designs with your fashion-forward friends!