Text: Alec Coiro
Photos: Kat Slootsky
Basics are supposed to be simple, meaning easy. Easy to wear, easy to pair, easy to choose. Jeans and a t-shirt: no problem. But for shoes it’s a whole different thing. It’s almost impossible to find a shoe that works with everything you wear, especially one that’s also comfortable, easy on the eyes, and isn’t encumbered by some cheeseball flourish the designer couldn’t resist ruining it with.
That’s why I was so excited by Vayarta. Vayarta shoes are stylish in that understated way that is so often talked about but so rarely achieved. They’re also probably the most eco-friendly piece of leather you’re likely to own, and the backstory rivals that of any wardrobe item I’ve ever heard of. I know this, because I got a chance to hear it directly from Sarada Ravindra, the owner of Vayarta herself. Apparently the shoe that she discovered in Puerta Vallarta can trace it’s origins back to Morocco in a very glamorous way: “There’s definitely a Moroccan influence. Way back when Puerta Vallarta was a jet set destination for hollywood in the Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor era. There were a lot of people coming in and out of the area and somehow that Moroccan design made its way there and they made it their own.”
As fate would have it, this shoe style that made it’s way across the atlantic, still had further evolutions to go through once Sarada took note of them. “Originally they were a gentleman’s moccasin in Puerta Vallarta and gradually we started changing the model. We thought this is a great unisex shoe. The main thing that made it more masculine was the sole. When we change the sole that completely changed the look of it. It had more of a heel, almost like a penny loafer. As soon as we changed the sole it immediately became more casual and unisex.”
While Sarada has taken the style to the market up north (most of her stores are in New York City currently), she has kept the production, and hand-crafted feel of the shoe in Mexico. “Everything, all of our suppliers, everything is completely made in Mexico.” She took care to make sure that the production was done in the most responsible way possible. “All of our shoes are vegetable dyed. I know I’m making a leather product so I want to make it in the best way possible, so we try to be conscious of everything we do in our process. We also use an eco-tannery for our soles. What that means is they avoid using harmful chemicals in the creation of the final product. The owner of the tannery has a biochemical background and his whole mission was to build an eco friendly tannery.”
There’s definitely a Moroccan influence. Way back when Puerta Vallarta was a jet set destination for hollywood in the Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor era. There were a lot of people coming in and out of the area and somehow that Moroccan design made its way there and they made it their own.
Vayarta has been around for 4 seasons now. Sarada updates the colors for every season “but we always sell our classic colors of black, white, tile every season.” For spring they’re introducing a slide, which will — of course — be unisex. It’s like a backless version of the classic Vayarta style. The idea being to maintain the same mood with a slight twist. Looking further down the line, Sarda is designing a suede version of the shoe for for Fall/Winter 2017.
Hopefully you’ll get your Vayarta before then, so you can say you had a pair before they were everywhere.