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Batty About Batik — Check out the new Della by Vans Footwear Collaboration

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It’s universally inspiring when a passion project, especially one rooted in altruistic or solidaristic ideals, morphs into a full-fledged movement with a clear mission and an organized network of professionals laboring towards a collective goal.  This has certainly been the case with the socially responsible fashion line Della, which was launched by Los Angeles native Tina Tangalakis after she ventured to Hohoe, Ghana to do volunteer work back in September 2009. Tangalakis’ genuine appreciation for Ghanaian culture prompted her to develop a business plan for a fashion brand that would provide female artisans in Hohoe with new market avenues through which to sell their wares. Thanks to Della, as many as 50 Ghanaian women now earn fair wages and enjoy steady employment. Beyond that, the brand is helping to solidify the importance of a global marketplace and, moreover, to facilitate a cross-cultural exchange of ideas via fashion. Just two years ago, Della was accomplishing this goal primarily via the handbags it old on its website (which we raved about here). Since then, Della has teamed up with Urban Outfitters and now Vans, further expanding its consumer base while increasing brand recognition

The newly launched Della by Vans footwear collection consists of six classic Vans sneaker styles, all crafted with colorful fabrics handmade by female artisans in Ghana. Batik fabrics — cloths made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique — play a huge role in this collection. Typically, molten wax is applied onto fabric panels using sponge-like stamps with intricate patterns cut into their surfaces. The fabrics are then dyed in large tubs (sometimes two and three times until the desired color pattern is achieved), then boiled until the wax is removed and laid out to dry. Each pair of shoes in the Della by Vans collection, then, is a true reflection of Ghanaian culture, with fabrics made using traditional artisan techniques. And, of course, the colors used capture the joy and the lush landscape of the villages in which Della works, while the shoes feature the classic silhouettes that have made Vans synonymous with a skater cool aesthetic.

 The collection includes two high-top styles: the Vans x Della Sk8-Hi Reissue in Batik/Black ($70 at Shop.Vans.com), shown here at top, which features batik fabric uppers with a splatter-like motif juxtaposed against black suede tongues and vamps, and the Vans x Della SK8-Hi Slim ($70 at Shop.Vans.com), pictured fifth at top, which features an all-over brick red batik print. Lace-up sneaker styles, meanwhile, include the  Vans x Della Authentic shoe, shown third from top in Batik/Yellow ($60 at Shop.Vans.com) and in Batik/Pink ($60at Shop.Vans.com), shown  last above; and the Vans x Della Era, shown fourth from top in Batik/Multi Blue ($60 at Shop.Vans.com), which features a tropical palm leaf design, and sixth from top in Batik/Multi Black ($60 at Shop.Vans.com), which features a print with overlapping neon stripes creating a gingham-like pattern along the side panels and leopard like spots on the tongue. The Authentic and Era silhouettes are both extremely similar, but the Era has a wider shape, more akin to a traditional skate shoe and a padded tongue and lining. Last but not least, there’s one classic slip-on style: the Vans x Della Classic Slip-On in Batik/Pink ($60 at Shop.Vans.com), which features a black fabric with heart shapes in hot pink, gray, and light peony pink.

This limited edition footwear collection celebrates the fluidity of cultural norms and practices in an increasingly globalized world where ideas are exchanged freely. 

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