Handmade, ethical footwear from Peru by Fortress of Inca
After Evan Streusand graduated from college, he took a backpacking trip through South America and at the end of his trip bought a pair of boots from a small shop in Cusco, Peru. Once home in Austin, Texas, those boots, with their mix of leather and traditional Peruvian textiles got a lot of attention and people were constantly asking Evan about them. Not one to turn down a business opportunity, Evan decided to bring those boots to the US and to try and make a business out of it. Meet Fortress of Inca - a fair trade company that sells high quality, handmade shoes from Peru.
Although launched in 2010, it wasn’t long before Fortress of Inca evolved beyond boots. Shares Evan,
We work with Peruvian designers of all shapes and colors, each offering unique talents and different perspectives. One of our favorite designers is a 29 year old Peruvian woman whose family has been in the shoe business for 3 generations. Along with designing shoes for us, we are helping her launch her own collection that is hitting stores in the US this spring.
With only 2 seasons (spring/summer and fall/winter) each collection includes a mix of existing styles and new ones with thought and attention to both people and planet. Explains Evan,
We aim to make all of our products in a way that is sustainable for the environment and for the people involved in the production process. We use primarily natural materials – leather, rubber and wood – that are sourced from the same area that we do our production. Our leather is a byproduct of the meat industry, so we are using leather that would otherwise go to waste. We make sure that all of our shoemakers are paid an excellent living wage and have other benefits (medical, maternity leave, flexible hours) that put them in a position to better support their families. People > Profits.
With a goal to continue to design, produce and sell handmade shoes that are produced in a way that benefits not only customers, but the people who make them, Fortress of Inca is also exploring other categories: bags, accessories, alpaca throws, etc, for future expansion.
Check out their site for booties, boots, heels, wedges, flats and sandals for her and boots, belts and wallets for him. Product is sold at stores in the USA, Canada, and Japan plus the website offers international shipping.