Veldskoen, more commonly known as vellies, date back to the Dutch settlers of the 17th century. The settlers found themselves quite unprepared for the rugged terrain that greeted them in Southern Africa. The Dutch therefore looked to the local people for guidance and drew inspiration from the traditional footwear designs of the Khoisan people. The Khoisan were well adapted to the arid landscapes of Sub Saharan Africa and well equipped with expertise and knowledge. The Khoisan had a unique construction method known as ‘the stitch-down’, which the Dutch implemented in their own footwear crafting.
IT’S ALL IN THE STITCHING
The stitch-down, a method of stitching the upper leather to the mid-sole makes for a sturdy and durable shoe. Essentially, this method negates the need for any tacks or nails and ensures a weather tight shoe. The stitch-down itself is a construction method that was invented in Africa and is widely practiced today. The Dutch designed the ‘veldtschoen’ based on this method, a shoe specifically crafted to conquer the veld of South Africa. Traditionally, the veldskoen had a soft rawhide upper, stitched to a chunky leather sole, therefore making it ideal for the veld.