by Stephen Garner
(L-R) Idris Elba, Christian Louboutin and Sabrina Elba / Photo by Misan Harriman

With the goal of synchronizing efforts to address systemic racism through structural change-making, Christian Louboutin has teamed up with friends Idris and Sabrina Elba to create the “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” capsule collection.

The collection features men’s and women’s styles inscribed with the quote “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” a phrase that seeks to express solidarity, empathy, and action.

One hundred percent of proceeds from the collection will directly benefit five grassroots organizations across three continents that are committed to creating self-sustainable equity in communities of color. Humanitarian relief charity Be Rose supports vulnerable people in need of emergency assistance and empowers widows to care for their families through agribusiness. Close to Idris’s heart and rooted in his Sierra Leonean heritage, Purposeful is a grassroots organization that provides mentorship for girls. Idris’s patronage of The Immediate Theatre in East London reinforces the message that access to the arts should be available to all. Sabrina’s roots are reflected in The Somali Hope Foundation’s continued efforts to provide access to education for underprivileged children. Founded by Harry Belafonte, Gathering for Justice’s mission to end child incarceration, centering nonviolence as a foundation for civic and social justice engagement, makes it an organization that is close to Christian’s heart.

The global outcry that occurred in May 2020 sparked a worldwide conversation about privilege, systematic injustice, and racism. Idris and Sabrina felt compelled to add their voices, and as a visible Black couple, they spoke candidly about global inequality and shared their first-hand experiences of discrimination. Using their social media platforms as a vehicle to call for change, the couple engaged in an Instagram live discussion with one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Opal Tometi. They were unaware that Christian was listening in at the time and after the talk, he expressed to them how powerful, moving, and hopeful he had found their discussion – “I’m proud of you, and I’m here for you” he told them.

Taking the thought-provoking conversation offline, the three friends were certain that they wanted to give back in a way that would be truly impactful. To raise awareness directly benefitting the lives of the individuals and communities whose voices matter yet are often unheard, they looked to historic leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Their dedication to the fight for justice, equality, and freedom offered design inspiration.

This inspiration was channeled into co-creating an uplifting two-chapter collection. The collection features styles showcasing Strelitzia reginae, or “Mandela’s Gold,” a beautiful plant that has come to symbolize empathy, hope, and freedom.

“Walk a Mile in My Shoes” appears in a script motif, evocative in Louboutin red. It originates from a visit Idris paid to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Los Angeles. The trio are not suggesting that anyone walks a mile in their shoes, but instead to consider the motto as a call to action. A call to support the victims of police brutality and racial injustice in the United States, small farmers and their children in Somalia, disconnected underserved youth in England, and orphaned children and young girls in Sierra Leone.