Designed in Bangladesh, Made in Europe

Sustainable footwear brand ‘ekn’ brings the world’s first sneaker made in Europe and designed in Bangladesh by an emerging female fashion designer from Dhaka.

The newly launched limited edition vegan sneaker aims to curb exploitation in the global footwear industry.

In a move that shakes up the fashion design status quo, the Frankfurt-based sustainable footwear brand the former Launching the world’s first unisex shoes designed in Bangladesh and manufactured in Europe. new the former Kamthala This is a limited edition vegan sneaker made in Portugal and designed in Bangladesh by an up and coming female Bangladeshi designer. Rokaia Ahmed Purna.

Named after the national fruit of Bangladesh – the jackfruit – Akon Kamthala makes a bold statement for industry to rethink how it works with the Global South, turning the usual ‘designed in the Global North, made in the Global South’ paradigm on its head.

The idea was to ‘create a sneaker as a symbol of respect’ – the aim was to tap into a younger generation’s hunger for meaningful change – to address some of the unethical supply chain practices, pollution and exploitation that have been synonymous with the footwear industry for decades. .

Courtesy Ex

Courtesy Ex

Bangladeshi designer Rokaia Ahmed Poorna is committed to gender equality, responsible consumption and production, promoting indigenous textiles and innovation, and empowering women and girls in her country.

“In Bangladesh we have a very rich cultural tradition and heritage, which I try to implement in all my works,” he said. My own roots and childhood memories also influence my designs; Akon Kamthala’s inspiration comes from the national fruit of Bangladesh, the jackfruit, with which I have a deep connection. As a child there was a tree right in front of my house where I used to play, draw and sleep under. We are used to the term ‘Made in Bangladesh’, not ‘Designed in Bangladesh’, but the new generation of Bangladeshis have started thinking differently and working differently. As a part of this generation, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to create change. I’m living a lot of people’s dreams, so it’s an opportunity that comes with a lot of responsibility.”

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Put honor first

ekn was founded in 2013 by Noel Klein-Reesink, after years of searching for the perfect skate shoe and designing for New Balance and adidas. His experience taught him that there was a serious need for a well-designed, thoughtful and sustainable sneaker, hence ekn’s long-term mission statement “Made in Friendship” – an alternative to inhumane and environmentally abusive practices.

“Ekon Kamthala shoes are a statement – ​​a badge of honor. Because in a just world the system has no privileged side. If fairness is the goal, we should share aspirations.” Klein-Reisink said.

Alexander Grapp, group creative director at Accenture Song and originator of the concept, said: “’Made in’ labels not only gloss over the unfair conditions under which people in the Global South often work – they reinforce harmful stereotypes about creativity and manufacturing. The so-called ‘First’ and ‘Third World’. They assume that American and European design is superior to countries where brands outsource their manufacturing, which is simply not the case. All this is what we wanted to challenge with this statement. And along the way we’ve learned and been continually inspired by the creativity and resilience of Bangladeshi designers like Rokaia. We hope it makes people think! We want to invite more companies and brands to work differently with Bangladesh and beyond – and to harness the talent and creativity that is clearly waiting to be more widely recognized.”

All ekn shoes are produced in Portugal from sustainable materials, aiming to provide high-quality footwear without the social and environmental harm caused by similar manufacturers.

All profits from the sale of the shoes will be used for a development program to set up an NGO to give Dhaka’s creative people a new place to work and create an ongoing series of Ekon footwear for talented women designers in Bangladesh and other countries. .

The limited edition ekn Kamthala will be available worldwide starting January 21st, 2023 at for a retail price of $215.00.

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Rokaia Ahmed Purna.

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