The customised shoes taking South African culture to the world

Dhiantha Achary was in a tight spot. A close friend was about to turn 21, and Achary had forgotten a gift. Instead of dropping into a shop with the hope of running into inspiration, she decided to make something. Because how could that go wrong? But what Achary has that many do not is an architect’s skill for design.

That day she created her first pair of customised tomy takkies, covering the shoes in a hand-painted pattern. Her friend adored the last-minute gift, prompting Achary to continue making specially-crafted footwear for her close family and friends. As their fame spread over social media orders came pouring in for the decorated takkies. Achary was able to upgrade her hobby into a business, and her shoes are now worn all over South Africa and abroad, in places like America, Germany and Kuwait.

Each pair of shoes takes 16 hours to produce by hand. The fruit of this labour is in the unique personality they capture, created expressly to resonate with their future owner. To keep her designs fresh Achary draws inspiration from the diversity of South African culture. Whilst juggling a demanding architectural career she has engineered her success in retail by tapping into an iconic piece of her country’s fashion, showing that the traditional can be reimagined without losing its essence.

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