Tsonga Footwear

_MG_5637_A6We go back to the late 1990’s, to a time when many South African shoe factories were faced with a massive onslaught of cheap imports from China. To remain competitive, many businesses intensified the problem by also turning to imported goods, but Corrida Shoes had a different vision, a vision to rather create something that would preserve the well-earned and respected two decades of shoe making skills and expertise.

Vision and manufacturing ability alone would not be enough. To create something unique needed an authentic component, something that would form the foundation for our desire to create a global brand, for a product made in South Africa, by South Africans, for generations to come.

Cheap imports from China were not the only difficulty facing South Africa in the 1990’s, high unemployment rates also came to the fore. On our doorstep, the KwaZulu-Natal midlands saw some rural communities contending with a staggering unemployment rate upwards of 85%. In the face of these troubled times, Corrida Shoes embraced the challenge and created the Tsonga brand under which products would be made using the traditional hand making skills of the women in these rural areas and combined them with modern footwear manufacturing techniques.

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Both local and international success ensued. Made with the finest 100% genuine leather, Tsonga footwear, handbags and accessories have become renowned for comfort and quality with a unique European infused and African inspired style. In 2001 the first Tsonga concept store opened its doors in Cape Town. Since, 13 more stores have opened across South Africa, Australia and France.

When the founder, Peter Maree, started the Tsonga journey, he had a dream to uplift the rural community of Lidgetton. He sought ways to educate and train the community in the art of shoe making with the long term goal in mind to make a change, through business and not hand-outs. The opportunity arose with the European Union Job Creation Fund and together with Corrida Shoes the Thread of Hope Trust came into being with the joint purchase of state of the art machinery to make soles for footwear made by Corrida Shoes. The direct beneficiary of the Thread of Hope trust is the Lidgetton community. Through the revenue generated by this trust, the long term vision of community owned business has become a reality….Tslops.

Tslops, a separate brand to Tsonga, is also a range of hand stitched leather footwear and accessories, but the difference being in that they are made in mini-factories owned by the community. They aren’t just fantastic fun shoes, they represent a whole new way of doing business by putting local people’s futures in their own hands. Fully equipped and placed within the community, the re-purposed shipping container Tslops mini-factories are intended to become a hub of industry and activity where creativity, positivity and purpose are the by-products of each pair of individually hand stitched Tslops.

The key driver of the Tslops project is to create sustainable employment. The ladies are trained with shoe making skills and mentored on running their own business. Supported by Corrida Shoes with a world class product development, marketing and retail team, Tslops is the pinnacle of hope for the community. In creating sustainable employment, the lives of the local people are improved… their health, well-being and most importantly, their self-esteem.

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Supported by major South African retailers, Tslops is also exported to Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and America. Within five years, the goal is to produce one million pairs per year. This will require 40 mini-factories, providing an income to 480 people. Considerable when one job in rural South Africa supports ten people. The goal is wherever there is need for employment, you will soon find a Tslops container mini-factory.

We encourage visitors to the Midlands Meander to visit the Tsonga Thread of Hope Farm, to see for themselves the meticulous skill of the ladies who so patiently stitch each and every pair by hand.