By Elizabeth Wallace

Published on September 6, 2016

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON

Her own shoe collection includes a number of Brother Vellies. Her favorites? “Our shorter and over-the-knee boots.”

Aurora James collects a trove of global treasures at her Brooklyn apartment.

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON PEACOCK TAXIDERMY $3,800 creelandgow.com; ON JAMES:Dress $2,208 ryan-roche.com

The white taxidermied peacock is a nod to Brother Vellies’s South African workshop, where wild peacocks roam free.

The Brooklyn

apartment of Aurora James is a fabulous yet unfussy amalgam of pieces she’s accumulated over many trips abroad, which have helped define both her personal style and the direction for Brother Vellies, her line of bold shoes and bags. Since launching in 2013 and winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award two years later, James’s work has led her to spend as much time traveling around Africa as hanging out in her Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The idea for the brand came about following a visit to South Africa, where she met an artisan shoemaker in a small village who was struggling to make a living and maintain his craft. “I didn’t want to see these traditional skills, like beading and tanning, die out,” James explains. She began researching and investing in shoe-making workshops all over Africa, in Kenya, Morocco, and Ethiopia, eventually bringing different artisans’ creations to a wider marketplace online and opening a storefront in lower Manhattan. The Brother Vellies collection now includes booties, sandals, clogs, slides, and handbags, all crafted with vibrant fabrics, leathers, and furs that feel distinctly handmade. (James, who was herself a vegan for eight years, specifies that the furs and skins are byproducts from farmers who keep livestock.)

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON FRAMED PHOTOS by Jason Eric Hardwick $3,800jasonerichardwick.com; MIRROR DRUM PEDESTAL TABLE AND TILT AND SWIVEL CHAIR by Milo Baughman1stdibs.com;  VINTAGE TIBETAN RUG $2,500 abchome.com.
Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON INDIGO PILLOW $150 clic.com; VELVET THROW PILLOWS from $140 ochre.net
Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON DECORATIVE BOWL by Minh Singer for Oroboro Store from $100 oroborostore.com;

“New York City is very much a concrete jungle, so for me it’s about bringing as much green into my space as possible.”

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON

OSTRICH FEATHERS

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON

James’s wardrobe, displayed here on a rustic tree branch–turned–clothing rack, is an ultra-feminine mix of vintage and contemporary by indie designers. For furniture, she shops eBay, Etsy, and 1stdibs.

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON FRAMED PHOTO by Jason Eric Hardwick  jasonerichardwick.com
Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON PALAZZO PINK benjaminmoore.com;  FLORALSby Emily Thompson emilythompsonflowers.com. ON JAMES:   ISABETTA DRESS IN RUBY   $598 ullajohnson.com.

Starting Brother Vellies and working with artisans across Africa was a natural fit for James: “My father is from Ghana, my grandmother was involved in philanthropy there, and my mother was very big on befriending people in her travels.”

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON

The designer hesitates to describe her home style—which melds organic pieces from her travels with vintage furniture, fashion photographs, and an abundance of leafy plants—in just a few words. “It’s really about going to different places and falling in love with things, and then wanting to bring them back with you. You end up creating an eclectic style that is identifiable as you but doesn’t have a distinctive formula.”

Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON LINEN DUVET COVERAND VENICE LINEN SHEET SET IN BLUSH by Parachute $229–$399parachutehome.com;  SINGLE CAMEL MOHAIR BLANKET by Clic Gallery $595 clic.com;  TIBETAN LAMBSKIN PILLOW IN BIRCH by Clic Gallery $110 clic.com;  VELVET THROW PILLOWS by Ochre from $140 ochre.net;  ICELANDIC SHEEPSKIN in White by Clic Gallery $200 clic.com AURORA’S DRESS BY ANNA SUI, in annasui.com; AURORA’S SHOES BY BROTHER VELLIES, tufted solt sandal, brothervellies.com.
Pin It
Photography by JENNY GAGE AND TOM BETTERTON

In the rare times James isn’t traveling, her bedroom serves as a place to nest and recharge. “The energy changes from season to season,” she says. At the first sign of fall, she switches her home scent from light summer to warm and cozy, burning palo santo wood and Peyote Poem candles by Byredo.

production and styling by  KATE BERRY