When actor Idris Elba and his model wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba lent their voices to the Black Lives Matter movement in May 2020, no one could have guessed it would result in a shoe collection. Yet this is exactly what happened, after the pair took part in an Instagram Live discussion with the BLM movement co-founder, Opal Tometi, in a call for change.
Shocked by events unfolding in America, the actor and his wife spoke from personal experience on racism and its pervasive impact.
Close friend to the pair, shoe designer Christian Louboutin, heard the talk, and reached out to offer support.
This triggered a conversation about how the three could combine their talents and use their profiles as leverage to raise awareness of, and funds for, disadvantaged black communities.
The result is a collaboration that launches on Wednesday, June 16 under the banner “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.”
Inspired by wording at the Los Angeles memorial to Dr Martin Luther King Jr, the 19-piece collection is an invitation to view things from a different perspective, with the words written in cursive script in Louboutin's famous red. The collection comprises of pumps, sneakers, bags, belts, and a boot, as well as a rework of Louboutin's So Kate pump in classic black, with a scalloped edge and the words running down the side. The 1988SL boot -also in black - was co-designed by Idris himself, and has the nickname ‘the Idris boot'.
In addition to the parred-back calligraphy, the collection also carries a colourful print that draws on one species of the bird of paradise flower from South Africa. Called Mandela’s Gold, the yellow flower is named after the South African leader and black rights activist, Nelson Mandela. Symbolising freedom and immortality, the plant was seen by the trio as a fitting motif for the collaboration.
"Doing things for and with the people you love gives another dimension to the project," Louboutin says. "We are very close friends and share similar values of respect, empathy, and hope. This is all that this collection is about. It also brings authenticity to the collection and the choices we have made regarding the charities. This collection is not a collaboration between two brands with two different universes, but it is the reflection of a sincere and strong friendship."
Once the collection goes on sale on, 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to five charities selected by the trio.
Dhowre Elba , who is Somali-American, chose The Somali Hope Foundation, which provides schooling for children and hails from her mother's village. While in a nod to his Sierra Leone heritage, Elba chose two organisations from the country - Be Rose International Foundation and Purposeful - which between them feed, educate and mentor school age girls.
In America, the three selected to support Gathering for Justice, an organisation which teaches children how to lead and be involved in activism. Elba also chose the Immediate Theatre in the UK, which provides children with an education through the arts and theatre. Across all five charities, there is a common focus on “racism, inequality and freedom.”