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  • Onwumere Ikenna Churchill

Artist Spotlight: The African Creative Behind Shoe Blocc

Meet Biodun Ariori, the creative director and founder of Shoe Blocc, a brand that celebrates African culture through handmade shoes.

In today's dynamic and ever-evolving world, the realm of creativity is witnessing a remarkable transformation. Across various industries, young and talented individuals, armed with unique skills and unbridled passion, are harnessing their creativity to disrupt traditional norms and craft their dreams into reality.

One such shining example is Biodun Ariori, the Creative Director and Founder of Shoe Blocc, a brand that celebrates African culture through handmade shoes. Biodun's journey into shoemaking is a testament to the power of creativity and the pursuit of one's passions.

We had the pleasure of chatting to him about his creative process and his love for shoemaking.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in shoemaking?

I'm Biodun Ariori, the founder, and my journey into the world of shoemaking started in 2019 while I was in university. This journey was inspired by my desire to create footwear that not only serves a functional purpose but also offers individuals the chance to express themselves uniquely.

Could you tell us about the inspiration behind starting Shoe Blocc and creating handmade shoes that empower African Culture?

I wanted to do something real and something different. I’m an African and I love my culture to the core. So, I decided to start something; my love for footwear and creating those designs gave it all away. Each shoe has a different feel to it and they come with a name attached as well. We have the “Ikenga” which is a stylish, sleek shoe, amongst others. Shoe Blocc was born out of a deep passion for celebrating uniqueness and bold African culture through distinctive handmade Shoes.

At Shoe Blocc, we firmly believe that shoes are more than just functional items; they are a canvas for storytelling, a means to embrace our roots, and a way to make a bold fashion statement.

Selecting materials that reflect the essence of African culture is paramount to Shoe Blocc's mission. Many of their shoes feature materials sourced from Africa, which not only pays homage to the continent but also supports local artisans and sustainable practices. This commitment to sustainability aligns seamlessly with their celebration of African culture.

What makes Shoe Blocc shoes unique in terms of designs and materials, and how do they showcase African Culture?

At Shoe Blocc, every shoe design is deeply Afro-centric, drawing inspiration from various African cultures, patterns, and symbols. Each pair of handmade shoes carries a piece of the rich African heritage, making wearers feel comfortable and secure in their unique identities. The craftsmanship that goes into creating each shoe is meticulous, ensuring that they are truly one-of-a-kind.

My team and I take pride in infusing their designs with elements from African traditions, including art, textiles, and symbols. These cultural inspirations manifest in the intricate patterns, vibrant colours, and symbolic elements that define Shoe Blocc's creations.

Note: Art director, Tobiloba Mustapha curates the mural and colour coating designs to the shoes.

Shoe Blocc isn't just about footwear; it's about empowering individuals to stand out, embrace their heritage, and wear their identity proudly. We're committed to preserving African culture and promoting it globally through our distinctive, edgy, and culturally rich designs.

In a world where fashion can sometimes feel homogenised, Shoe Blocc stands as a beacon of cultural authenticity and creativity. Biodun Ariori and his team exemplify how young entrepreneurs can harness their passion and skills to not only create successful businesses but also celebrate the rich tapestry of African culture and foster a greater appreciation for African craftsmanship and heritage.

Shoe Blocc's future is about celebrating the past, embracing the present, and shaping the future of African culture in the world of fashion. I certainly cannot wait to see the next steps for Biodun and the rest of his team.

Follow Shoe Blocc and Biodun on Instagram and head over to the Shoe Blocc website to see the full collection.


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