"It was 20 years ago at the end of a long day immersed in the souks of Marrakech that I first met Hamid. A tiny shop at the far end of a narrow lane, it was filled floor to ceiling with the finest babouche I had seen.
Hamid speaks no English and my Arabic is very limited so we conversed in my comical French before he led me through the maze of streets to his workshop in an ancient fondouk. This was the beginning of my journey collaborating with artisans in Morocco, and we continue to work with Hamid and his team to this day." ~ Jenny Lockton, Creative Director
The babouche slipper is an iconic feature of Moroccan culture and has been an important element of the traditional dress code for centuries. And like the very best of inventions, the babouche slipper is as popular and relevant today as it has always been. Vogue even named the pointed babouche as it’s must-have shoe of 2016.
The continued popularity of the babouche is hardly a surprise as they offer the wearer the ultimate in comfort and style. The soft soled, round toed babouche make the perfect indoor slipper and the pointed babouche with firm leather soles, a practical slip on shoe for outdoor wear in a hot, dry climate.
The Bohemia team now work with two artisan groups to produce their collections. Hamid’s family business is based in the medina of Marrakech and Rachid runs a new Bohemia leather workshop located in a small village on the outskirts of the city. Bohemia babouche are made entirely by hand from start to finish
Firstly the finest leathers are sourced from the traditional tanneries in Marrakech where the leather is organically tanned using the same methods and natural agents as across the preceding centuries. This results in a natural material which will have a distinctive scent no longer found in factory cured leathers.
Traditionally babouche are made from sheepskin, goatskin, camel hide and cowhide to produce a 100% leather shoe, or combined with a wide range of fabric uppers which maybe hand loomed, embroidered, sequinned, tasseled and bejewelled to create a more elaborate shoe.
Each piece of leather is cut to shape before dying by hand to a bespoke Bohemia colour palette using natural plant based materials. Once the dyed leathers have dried in the hot Moroccan sun they are hand stitched, finished and quality checked. It sounds easy, but Jenny has spent many hours sitting in the company of the artisans while they handcraft each pair of babouche, and states that the patience and skill required is quite breathtaking to observe.
The majority of the process is carried out by men in small workshops but the fine decorative detail is crafted by women who work in their own homes while also being free to care for their children and families. The women are responsible for the embroidery and sequin crafting on the round toe babouche and also the fine cutwork patterns on the pointed toe babouche.
With many fans around the world, Bohemia is happy to able to provide continuous orders and employment for their leather babouche artisans. And as ever, the team are full of ideas for new designs to offer their customers a fresh, contemporary take on this most traditional of fashion accessories.
Explore our collection of Moroccan Slippers.