New York— On a recent visit to Haiti on the fifth anniversary of a devastating earthquake, designer Kenneth Cole visited the Deux Mains sandal workshop, a grassroots social enterprise that uses upcycled tires and locally sourced leathers to make one-of-a-kind sandals.
From that visit, Cole and the shoemarkers collaborated on “The Love-Haiti Sandals” to support the community.
The sandals (for him and her) are each available in three colors. They retail from $69 to $79 and come with a stylish burlap tote with the phrase “We are in a LOVE-HAITI relationship.” The sandals are available at KennethCole.com as well as select Kenneth Cole retail stores beginning this week.
“Since shortly after the earthquake five years ago we have sought to play a role in helping to rebuild Haiti,” says Cole. “Although the press and cameras are gone, the needs of the community are not. This sandal collaboration is one more step in our effort to put our foot-wear it makes a difference.”
Deux Mains provides sustainable income for its sandal makers which empowers them to reunite their families, provide themselves with food and medical care, send their children to school, and accumulate savings for long-term stability. The Love-Haiti sandals offer an alternative solution to tire burning in Port-au-Prince by upcycling tires into handmade sandals.
“Deux Mains believes that empowering citizens through dignified employment is the way to end global poverty. I am delighted that a worldwide icon like Kenneth Cole shares our vision and is partnering with Deux Mains to support job creation in our Haitian workshop,” adds Julie Colombino, CEO- Deux Mains Designs.
In 2010 when the earthquake hit Haiti, Kenneth Cole Productions launched an in-store shoe drive and shipped thousands of pairs to Haitians who desperately needed shoes. Next, Kenneth Cole launched a community-building initiative: an in-store fundraising program and multiple associate volunteer trips to Haiti to help rebuild the community.
Shortly after that, the brand built The Kenneth Cole Haiti Health Center (The KCHHC) at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cite Soleil – one of the most underserved areas in the Western Hemisphere. The KCHHC is part of a tri-level collaborative medical system in partnership with the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, and is accessible to over 1.5 million people. The St. Luke Foundation for Haiti (a Haitian-run organization employing more than 1,000 Haitian staff) provides education, medical care, and dignified humanitarian outreach through key programs.
Most recently, Kenneth Cole opened a store in Haiti at the Kinam Hotel in Petitionville. The store contributes to The KCHHC and has collaborations with local artisans, providing jobs and funds to the local community.