Designer LanVy Nguyen believes that luxury, quality, and ethics should play equal parts in the fashion industry. Her company called Fashion4Freedom represents Vietnam’s first supply chain to marry those values, creating stylish and opulent consumer goods with socially responsible and transparent practices. Fashion4Freedom’s high-end brand called Saigon Socialite includes jewelry, business attire for men, and contemporary clothing for women, but perhaps the most outstanding is its footwear line, consisting of wedged shoes that are as much exhibit-worthy as they are wearable.
Each pair has a leather top and a wooden base, with a 3-inch front platform and a 6-inch heel that’s carved with techniques based on Vietnam’s ancient Imperial and Pagoda wood art. This handiwork is intended to preserve the traditional crafts that are slowly fading in the wake of the globalized modern economy, paying homage to the country’s cultural heritage with a careful contemporary spin. The shoes take 18-22 days to make, involving multiple artisans who specialize in wood-crafting, leather-crafting, cobbling, and lacquering.
Throughout the manufacturing process, nothing is wasted: shoe samples are donated to orphanages, and the remnants of materials are given to local schools. Fashion4Freedom also teaches the techniques and supply chain model to women in local villages, providing skills to help get them out of poverty. The elaborate shoes (and other fashionable items) are beautiful to behold, but even more so with the knowledge of the ethos they represent.