Ethiopia is one of the birthplaces of cotton cultivation, having been cultivated here for thousands of years. So cotton understandably occupies a central role in Ethiopian cultural life.
We source our cotton from small-scale heritage organic and traditional growers, ensuring you get a wondrously soft cotton – and a historic crop continues to flourish.
The art of hand-spinning cotton also dates back millenia here in Ethiopia, and our artisans are among the finest. We line our shoe interiors and strap linings with the fabric made from this organic hand spun so that slipping your feet inside a soleRebel is a decadent treat - just like sliding into your favorite socks!
We repurpose old tires by cutting them into the soles of our footwear.
The inspiration came from the traditional “selate” and “barabasso” shoes, a recycled car tire-soled shoe that has existed in Ethiopia for a LONG time. In fact it was the footwear from back in the day when the original “soleRebels” fought off the invading forces and kept Ethiopia as the only African nation to never be colonized!
So a great indigenous recycling tradition endures, and something that might otherwise go to waste now enjoys a useful new purpose. Our tire recycling initiatives divert waste from landfills and save CO2 from being emitted when landfill-bound tires are burned. Yikes!
Interweaving our hand spun cotton with colorful accents, we hand-loom every single meter of fabric that makes up our unique shoes. All of our hand-loomed fabrics are made using traditional eucalyptus looms that have been used here in Ethiopia for centuries.
The result? A wonderful ancient craft is preserved and perpetuated, we reduce our electricity consumption, you get unique and stylish fabrics to strut around in, and we all get to help save the planet with zero carbon output from the making of these wondrous fabrics!
For centuries, the finest Ethiopian coffees have been shipped to coffee lovers around the globe in hand-woven Abyssinian jute bags – a strong, durable, and very comfortable plant fiber we grow right here in Ethiopia!
In homage to this fine tradition of bringing the best beans to coffee lovers around the planet, we adorn all our HOMEGROWN series footwear with the finest artisan-woven Abyssinian jutes.
The ancient and exalted koba plant – an indigenous plant cultivated here in Ethiopia for over 10,000 years – is used in the creation of our mid-soles. A marvel of natural efficiency, every part of the koba plant has a use: its roots provide food in times of food shortage; it is self-regenerating once harvested, requires little water to grow and no chemical inputs. That's why we call it the freedom tree and the tree of hope.
Ethiopia is home to the largest population of livestock in Africa, with at least 40 million people owning livestock. The sector is crucially important in reducing poverty, as a large percentage of the population is directly affected by the leather industry.
There are no animal factories here – only the loving tradition of small-scale free-range animal raising, where animals freely roam and graze, tended to by their owners. It's the same tradition that's endured here for millenia and proudly survives until this day.
This is what we mean when we say soleRebels AbyssinianPure™. A treat to see, an experience to wear.
“Roots, culture, tires” is the way we summarize our ethos of historic eco-sensibility, where great products are made in a low-impact manner. Historically, that is the way things have been done in Ethiopia. It makes great sense given that we have so many talented hands here in Ethiopia that are too often idle because of lack of opportunity – and handwork creates great things.