A World of Good — Empower Artisans and Celebrate Different Cultures with the Inkkas 2016 Jogger Collection
From the erection of the Machu Picchu citadel atop a mountaintop in Peru during the 15th century to the creation of an elaborate road system and the development of a 12-month calendar centered on the observation of lunar and solar patterns, there’s no question about the advanced nature of the Inca civilization. In the realm of textiles, the Incas embraced a signature style that prioritized geometric motifs — particularly repeating patterns arranged into checkerboard-like grids. Quechua artisans in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador continue to use some of these time-honored weaving techniques — from spinning fibers into fine yarns using drop spindles to dyeing these fibers using plant and mineral extracts, warping the textile (the process of pairing together the two or more yarn colors that will be used in the design), then weaving these threads using backstrap looms or four-post horizontal looms. It’s no surprise, then, that when Inkkas founder Dan Ben-Nun first went backpacking through Latin America in 2012 and met with local artisans who fabricated sneakers using locally manufactured textiles, he was both intrigued and excited. He set out to launch Inkkas, an ethically responsible footwear brand centered on fashion-forward shoes handmade by artisans in Peru or Mexico using Andean textiles. The fast fashion model so commonly employed by “cheap chic” retail chains (think H&M, Forever 21, and Zara), which involves a constantly changing supply of wares to feed the insatiable appetites of trend-obsessed customers, was completely eschewed in favor of smaller production runs that would facilitate excellent and detail-oriented craftsmanship and complete authenticity, while also ensuring favorable working conditions for artisans and textile manufacturers. When you buy a pair of Inkkas shoes, then, you’re doing more than sprucing up your wardrobe — you’re helping a community of artisans, celebrating age-old textile production traditions that are deeply ingrained in a number of indigenous cultures throughout the Andes region, and changing consumers’ attitudes towards fashion, making them think about the story behind what they wear, about the people who toil away to make these items.
As if the Inkkas back story wasn’t enough to entice customers, the designs are extremely covetable. For several seasons, Inkkas has unveiled a number of Jogger styles (or lace-up sneakers with rubber outsoles that feature the silhouette most Americans associate with traditional running shoes) inspired by elements of a particular region or culture. For 2016, the three destinations honored via these Jogger styles are: Brazil, Morocco, and Japan.
The Inkkas 2016 Brazil Jogger ($79; available for pre-order at Inkkas.com), shown above at top, are fashioned out of suede leather and feature fabric inserts with intricate illustrations that pay homage to the exuberant colors of Carnival. Feather motifs and parrot references abound, as do intricate geometric patterns incorporating yellow, pink, orange, and blue tones.
The Inkkas 2016 Japan Jogger ($79; available for pre-order at Inkkas.com), pictured second from top, pays tribute to Hokusai, the legendary Edo period painter and printmaker who created such iconic works as the print The Great Wave of Kanagawa. To that end, the fabric insets within the sneaker feature elaborate landscapes in ink-y blues reminiscent of those beloved by Hokusai.
Last but not least, the Inkkas 2016 Morocco Jogger ($79; available for pre-order at Inkkas.com) draws inspiration from the Kilim rugs woven by local Berbers and hence feature geometric patterns and rich earthy hues.
All of the Inkkas 2016 Jogger styles were cut, sewn and stitched by hand, so they’re produced in small quantities, which means you need to pre-order yours ASAP before they run out!