Not a day goes by without seeing another brand from some college dropout emerge on our Instagram feeds, hailing itself as the ultimate hot new label to be following when, in reality, it really isn’t. Fortunately, the days where you could imprint a random Arabic phrase on a basic white t-shirt, flip it for $50, and actually get away with it are over. Times have changed, unarguably for the best in our books, which means that to single yourself out of the myriad of pseudo brands infiltrating the digital sphere: you must be special. So when we randomly stumbled across emerging footwear brand A-3, it really feels like we’ve come across a true gem.
The family business, which launched a little over three-years-ago, has fashion running through its veins. From father and daughter to son, every single one of the co-founders has a peculiar story and particular relationship with clothes, cloth, and more recently sneakers as well. Through two generations, the trio have weaved products that are adamantly fashionable and that also weave the traditional with the more contemporary.
Through iconic designs and daring silhouettes, A-3 is also a brand that wants to keep the ecosystem as clean as your fit. Handmade and upcycled, the label makes sure to breathe new life into unwanted materials, giving them just the extra edge they needed to become cool again.
In Tunisia alone, there are three to four million shoes thrown away each year, which is why the French-Tunisian family behind the brand is on a mission to add value to these shoes by restoring them into bags or turn them into kitschy, need-it-now slippers.
Not only that, but the footwear designers are also keen on defusing their DNA on most of their creations; the latest one being a hybrid sneaker and babouche that would grab the attention of any hypebeast.
For the launch of their latest collection, we shot a series of rapid fire questions to the founders at the helm of the Paris-based brand that is slowly, but surely, making waves in the scene.
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What’s the story behind A-3 ?
The label was founded by a father-daughter-son trio named Adel, Amel, and Adem. A-3 is the story of a father, as well as his two children, who transform sneakers into bags and use the soles to give a new twist to traditional North African babouches. The whole family is passionate about fashion starting from the father, aged 50, who’s been transforming clothes since the age of 15;Amel, who graduated from a design school; and Adem, who’s always up-to-date with the industry’s latest trends.
Your last release blends sneakers and babouches together. Where did this idea stem from?
Each time we would transform a pair of sneakers into a bag, we’d make sure to always keep the soles to maybe use one day. From Tunisian descent ourselves, babouches are part of our identity, and from there we decided to prove that it could also be seen, and reinterpreted, into a fashionable and wearable piece. It’s also a way to nod back to our roots and culture.
Was there an explicit intention to make the old and new meet?
In fact, it’s the backbone of the venture. We want to be the bridge between cultures and give birth to incredibly modern products. We have an obvious emphasis on making east and west meet, through sustainable fashion, which is something quite niche and unique as of right now.
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What was the process of designing these pieces like ?
At first, we hung all the babouche and soles up to let our creativity flow and find some kind of symbiosis between both. Eventually, we start figuring out which combinations are worth experimenting and trying out as not all of them are always doable from a technical perspective. Then comes the moment of stitching everything together which eventually births a unique artisanal piece.
Will we be seeing more creations like these ?
I don’t think we have much choice given the reception we’ve got from our audience. Needless to say that we have more models, combinations, and color-ways in store. Since we came up with this concept, our creativity feels never ending.
Is this something you want to be recognized for?
Absolutely! We’re the pioneer makers of the babouche with sneakers soles. On top of that, we’re an upcycling brand that does not throw a single thing away. Everything is used and reused from using the top part of sneakers as bags and bottoms for the streetwear babouche.
What do you have in store next ?
We’d love to collaborate with bigger brands and concept stores in the future to be able to have first-hand access to their extra stocks and unsold items. We’d want to take this venture back to Tunisia and get the youth involved and teach them how to fabricate using the country’s age-old savoir faire. We really want to create and entertain a link between France and Tunisia.