In a short span of time, Aurora James has turned brand Brother Vellies into a budding fashion force, winning the 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize (alongside Gypsy Sport and Jonathan Simkhai) and joining the CFDA Fashion Incubator class of 2018.
Well, when the fashion industry takes note of you, it's only a matter of time before Zara does, too.
Brother Vellies' furry sandals have become a signature; retailing for $715, the Dhara style is made of nubuck and fox fur. Zara's knock-off version? Polyester and synthetic fur, which at $59.90, costs just a fraction of the original.
More than the design, though, Zara's copycat sandal surely doesn't include any of the ethically produced components of the original. "Stolen from Africa," James notes in her Instagram of Zara's sandal, referring to Brother Vellies' commitment to responsible sourcing. The brand's shoes are made from sustainable materials and handcrafted by artisans in Kenya, South Africa and Morocco. The Dhara was made in Ethiopia.
Attempting to reproduce runway hits is nothing new for Zara, but lately it seems like the fast fashion brand is hitting new lows. Just last month, the brand came under fire for copying the designs of a handful of indie designers, who took to Instagram to prove Zara's pins and patches were blatant rip-offs of their own designs. Between small, social-media based artists and ethical brands like Brother Vellies, it seems like few designs are safe from Zara's reach.