⟨ Craft ⟩

The clumsy shoes that can be a life companion

Pla Shoes

Words / Jas Tse
Translation / Iris Heung

這雙外形樸拙的草鞋,雖然看起來笨笨的,又會隨使用而「披口」脫線、需要定期剪掉偶有的破線,像在看顧什麼一般。但當你好好照料它,它回頭也能把你照顧好。這種笨蠻好,要長伴身邊的話,誰需要那樣鋒利呢。

每雙草鞋由一條黃麻辮子編織而成,全靠孟加拉達卡難民營婦女們的一雙巧手。黃麻是孟加拉常見的原材,是很多小農的主要經濟來源。「它的葉子還可以吃呢。」設計這雙鞋子的西班牙設計師Irene Peukes打趣說覺得味道不錯。幼如髮絲的黃麻經過處理而軟化,並染色、晾乾,才著手編成辮子,最後覆蓋於縫製好的棉布製雛形上,鞋身製作完成後再運返馬略卡島做鞋底黏合。特別喜歡鞋內刻意不縫上鞋墊,穿著時只隔著一層棉布,腳掌就能接觸到黃麻的天然質感。對,所有用來穿在身上的物料,也是由實在的膚觸來告訴自己是否適合。

Irene Peukes說:「我不在乎現在流行什麼。在時裝工業裡會需要在意這些事,但在這裡,那些都不是什麼。」使用天然素材、善用手藝、並在生產過程中幫助弱勢群體,設計現在對她來說,能滿足這三個條件就足夠了。Irene曾在鞋履品牌Camper當了8年設計師,然後便經營起自己的衣服品牌,後來遇到同樣選用天然素材做設計的Araceli Iranzo,才有了這個草鞋品牌Pla

Irene與孟加拉明愛合作,聯繫到手藝了得的無業婦女。她定期飛往當地一同參與生產,在各人臉上,看到了無關乎個人成就與地位的單純快樂。「如果世上真的有魔法,那必定是在人與人互相了解與溝通的意圖裡。」這是電影《Before Sunrise》女主角說的。我一直覺得那是一種最美好而難忘的日常氣味。

「假如我再次出生,我不會選擇當設計師,我要成為一位工匠。」 —— Irene Peukes

This pair of clumsy looking espadrilles may not look sleek at all, they even need to be carefully maintained as the thread could easily come off loose. Although the shoes require so much care, they care for you well in return. It is okay to be clumsy, for the sharp-looking items are rarely the best choice for life companions.

Every pair of these espadrilles is made from one single jute braid and hand knitted by the women in the refugee camp in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Jute, a commonly seen plant in Bangladesh, is the prime source of income for the petty farms in the area. “Even their leaves are edible,” said the Spanish designer behind the brand, Irene Peukes, jokingly, “the leaves actually taste good.” Jute is as thin as hair, after being softened, dyed, and dried, the processed plant is ready to be braided and placed over a cotton prototype. The shoes will then be sent to Majorca to affix the outer sole. The shoes are made without inner sole by intention. Between the foot and the jute sole is only a thin layer of cotton cloth, so that you can vividly feel the naturalness of the material and allow your body to determine whether such material would feel good on your skin.

“I don’t care about the trend. Although it is a decisive factor for the fashion industry, here, it doesn’t affect us at all,” said Peukes. The only three things that she considers when designing shoes are the use of natural material, utilizing the locals’ skills, and making sure minorities are being benefited by the production. Peukes had been a designer in Camper for eight years before launching her own brand. During the years designing for her clothing brand, she met Araceli Iranzo, a designer who as well uses natural material, and together they founded the espadrilles brand Pla.

With the help of Caritas Bengal, Peukes got into touch with the unemployed female who are skillful in handiwork. As Céline says in Before Sunrise, “If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something.” I always imagine it to be a beautiful and unforgettable scent in everyday life.

“Should I ever be born again, I won’t be a designer, I’ll be a craftswoman,” said Irene Peukes.