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June 14, 2012

Fashion Gives Back: Every Little Step

The season's most powerful statement shoes are not only crafted by some of the world's top artisans, they also improve lives.

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Few things have more impact than a Maasai tribeswoman in full regalia. Her multicolored breastplates and bracelets are so striking that designers can't help but find inspiration in their densely beaded glory. (Proenza Schouler, Vionnet, and Burberry come to mind.) Where many might see a mere trend, the Spain-based accessories label Pikolinos saw an opportunity to provide a steady income to Maasai women — whose small earnings from hawking their wares to tourists are unreliable at best. The eco-conscious Pikolinos, which made its U.S. debut in May, employs more than 1,000 women of Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve to craft intricate details for its aptly named Maasai Collection. "It's amazing," says model Eugenia Silva, who spent a week with the tribe and stars in the new ad campaign. "Pikolinos has the best leathers and workers in Spain, yet for this project they came to Kenya to give women a salary to buy a cow and send their children to school." And the do-gooding doesn't stop there. All profits from the collection go to the development of health and education centers in the Maasai community. So go ahead, try walking in their shoes.

Shoes, $180-$210, Pikolinos; pikolinos.com.


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