The VIDAL boot factory was founded in September 2016 in Douala, the brand offers men a range of shoes: Hand Grade.
The VIDAL manufacturer has kept the original case which guarantees the durability of its know-how. The specificity of the Goodyear fitting of these shoes, which combines style, comfort, and longevity, goes back to the techniques of the 19th century.
It requires special expertise to carry out more than a hundred manual operations requiring around two weeks of work.
As a local Cameroonian company managed by a young entrepreneur, VIDAL is committed to maintaining the highest standards of traditional craftsmanship, quality, and service that its customers have enjoyed for some time.
We re-connect with designer Vidal Kenmoe to discuss his bespoke, high-end shoe line based in Douala. Former British Royal Army soldier Vidal Kenmoe switched his military expertise to shoe soles.
He continues to advise the army, but he now spends the majority of his time in Douala, Cameroon, creating, cutting, and polishing exquisite shoes. In 2016, Kenmoe established Shoes by Vidal, claiming to make each pair the highest possible levels of craftsmanship. The whole style of his business makes it clear why these sneakers have been in such high demand. In a fashion market where its citizens seek out high-end goods elsewhere, Kenmoe thrives.
To learn more about Kenmoe’s motivation, creative process, and other topics, we re-connect.
Rene Khan: Where did the desire or passion to make shoes come from?
Vidal Kenmoe: My passion for shoes comes from two things mainly—my mother’s love for shoes and fashion, as well as my time spent in the Royal Army, where a special interest was taken towards dressing.
RK: How long have you been making shoes?
VK: I have been making shoes since 2015. I learned the craft in 2013 and I’m still perfecting it.
RK: What does it mean to you to employ the use of local artisans?
VK: It feels good being able to contribute in that sense and to share my experiences with them and vice-versa.
RK: Creating one shoe takes two to four weeks and involves over 100 steps. Is this true?
VK: Yes, it does take a few weeks on average to design and manufacture a pair of shoes, but with experience, that time can be reduced in half.
RK: Where are the majority of your customers based?
VK: My customers are spread out around the world but the majority are based in Douala, Cameroon.
Talk to me about the process of making a shoe that boasts such a high standard of craftsmanship.
It all starts with forming the right shoe last for the design required. Once the last is done, the next step is pattern cutting followed by clicking the leather (upper), followed by the sewing of the upper with the under and then molding (also called lasting), and lastly, the finishing.
RK: Do you have partnerships with raw material sellers to access genuine leather, suede, velvet calfskin, and various fabrics?
VK: No, I simply purchase what I need.
AgA by Vidal appears to have come later. Tell me about the line.
AgA is the sandals and accessories line. AgA does both male and female sandals and we’re hoping to move into belts, watch straps, wallets, key ring holders, and many other leather products. The motivation for AgA is the need to satisfy customers’ demands for leather accessories (other than shoes) at an affordable price.
RK: In 2017, you made a pair of shoes for Samuel Eto’o. Have you worked with any other notable figures?
VK: Yes, I have provided shoes to several diplomats, professional athletes, MDs, artists, and politicians.
RK: What challenges do you face, apart from power outages, that halt your use of sewing machines and finishing bands?
VK: Not many these days. We purchased a power generator, so power cuts are no longer an issue. My biggest challenge remains people’s lack of education on handmade shoemaking.
RK: You dwell in a country noted for a 1 percent that travels abroad for luxury goods and yet you create luxury shoes. How do you fare? What sets your shoes apart?
My designs are unique, and my mix of materials includes leather, suede, denim, and African fabric—the discipline I put into the making, my attention to detail, and my focus on functionality which is mainly comfort and durability.
RK: What else do you hope to accomplish as a young entrepreneur?
VK: As a young entrepreneur, I would love to see my brand spread across borders and become a standard for shoemaking worldwide.
Kenmoe recently marked Shoes by Vidal’s second-year anniversary in Paris with a meet and greet and the launch of a new suede collection.
Learn more about his new collection, his lines ShoesbyVidal and AgAbyVidal on Instagram and his website.
Content courtesy of D Fashion Magazine & NFH