Our Story & Philosophy

our story...

The story of thewhiteribbon began in 2010, when Dori travelled to Marrakech for an artisan's NGO project. By somewhat of a coincidence, she discovered the work of a uniquely talented artisan, who soon became her mentor. As an art&design student at the time, she decided to create a project based on traditional North African shoes. With the collaboration of the helpful shoemaker, the first collection was soon born. The inspiration was drawn from North African crafts, however created with a minimal design, resembling contemporary ballet flats. As it was back then and till today, we keep the concept of working with traditional&sustainable methods, using wooden lasts and natural, raw fabrics.

A few years and a lot more experience on, today, all of our designs are entirely handmade by a small team of highly skilled artisans in two amazing corners of the world; Budapest and Marrakech. Our ballet flats and bags are entirely designed by Dori and are made in collaboration with our two main artisans; Malek and Pista Bacsi (uncle Steve in Hungarian).

Coming from a country (Hungary, where shoemaking is only second to Italy..!) and where hand-crafting shoes and tailoring clothes were once respected occupations, we find it important to collaborate with those rare craftsmen and artisans who still represent the values of handmade. The art of handmade shoes in Hungary is disappearing (with the exception of the famous Budapester shoes), as most people choose to buy cheaper, factory made shoes, usually from Asia. We are aware handmade shoes are more costly, however we believe they are also of higher quality and worth an investment. Having a pair made for you is certainly a special treat.

We aim to align these traditional values with a conscious brand philosophy. We consider and plan every aspect of our project, from fabrics we use to all products being hand-made to making sure our artisans are fairly paid partners, working under fair working conditions. We all know each other personally and truly work as a team.

From an ecological and designing perspective our ballet flats and oxford shoes bare the specialty of overlapping upper layers design (similarly to many african and far-eastern traditional shoes). Due to the shoes' special design, we are able to use smaller fabrics and minimise our leather waste. Adding to this, we often re-use the leather waste from our shoe-making to create small pouches or we up-cycle tiny fabric pieces for jewelry.

We also use almost exclusively leathers that are 'left-overs or waste'. We work with a small family business (a lovely couple in Budapest) who travel seasonally to Italy to buy off over-produced or 'faulty' leather fabrics from the most famous fashion businesses.