My name is Kerry. I’m British-Peruvian and I create, design and make Taka. I'm going to explain my thought process behind starting Taka.
I come from an entrepreneurial background in fashion, design and manufacturing. I think fashion is a culturally fluid, competitive sport built around an old dream of creative expression. This fuzzy dream had no industrial shape in inception, only designers and creators with disparate visions. Only some 100 years ago fashion began to formalize as mass-production began to shape a powerful industry based on extraction and profit.
This value system is dated, developed in response to a cultural climate eons away from today. Back then, plastic would have been trending and women were still doing gender-specific work. Glamorous travel in impractical dresses symbolized emancipation and synthetic fibers represented futuristic innovation. Today we have different social and ecological needs, our brains have neurologically adapted over the last generations understand the weaknesses in our infrastructure. We now seek ecological and social harmony.
Fashion has to readjust to line up with our cultural reality, and depletive mass ideology has to die. This will be cumbersome and painful - the fashion dream built concrete factories and international supply chains. Many, many people depend on the old system. It may take another 100 years before for this self-perpetuating system auto-corrects to get us out of survival mode.
In this transitionary, rumbling climate I had to evaluate whether any fashion item had a right to exist. Should everything be Goodwill? 80% of my wardrobe already is, but I acknowledged that there is a (very small) space for ecologically aware, well-made items that could last and live with the wearer for a very long time. They had to be everyday tools, items that emphasized hand-processing and the lifecycle on the body. I needed to focus on the character that develops with age, and isn’t pre-finished. Character is a hallmark of the self and comes from use and experience. I developed Taka as artifacts for daily use, that transform with the wearer. This footwear is designed to mimic and impart the same raw simplicity, synergy and dynamism found in the natural world.
As I designer I appreciate materials that are “biologically alive”. This is a natural material that responds in a positive way to the environment. Taka is based on a core, season-less capsule collection of undyed, vegetable tanned leather. This leather is ecologically kind because its minimally processed in a traditional way, free of chrome, heavy metals and petrochemical dyes. This toxic waste is used in 85% of the leather industry, polluting waterways and degrading the product. You can read more about vegetable-tanned leather in the following article, found here.
As I drew up the parameters for Taka I realized it would be a brand of many faces. I’m commitment to many causes, meaning Taka can’t be summarized in one line. Below I've listed some of the core values for Taka. In the following articles I'll focus on different themes to expand on why they play a role.
I respect heritage craft and techniques and only work with artisans who preserve these traditions. Heritage knowledge is hard-won and normally passed down verbally, through generations and hands-on experience. In contrast mass production values volume and speed, reducing the importance of this knowledge as well as the likelihood of new generations adopting old craft.
Seasonless, no-fad fashion. Built to be used every day. Less triviality in the closet lets you travel easily with less gear and frees up mental space for more important thoughts & experiences.
Being close to what you make or wear keeps it alive. Taka footwear is made in Los Angeles, where I live. Taka hats are made in Peru, where I’m from. I have a deep connection with the craftspeople in both places.
Takes are built to be long-lasting. Taka’s aesthetic is timeless, inspired by classic utility footwear and headwear. Novelty is through engineering, and Taka’s can be used and renovated to last a very long time, even with daily use.
Comfort comes from the ground up. Taka’s footwear is build to mold and adapt to your foot. I call this reverse engineering, where all the restrictive inner components have been removed. There is no metal shank, instead a pliable bamboo shank. The counter in the toe box has been removed, allowing for the toes open and grip the ground. Taka’s footwear is like walking comfortably barefoot. Taka hats are featherweight, they float on your head for unrestricted movement.
Taka scuplts with use. A new Taka is a blank canvas, even if it has been custom oiled or dyed it is still alive. The shape will gradually adapt to your movements, taking on subtle micro nuances that are similar to working with clay. These transformations keep each Taka artifact unique and personalized.
I stay close to Taka items and my own creative process by customizing individual items. I accept custom requests and I also experiment with different techniques. I forage for plants and test different methods to extract dyes. I shape hats with minimal tools, using my hands, clothespins, string and water.
Chrome-free leather is natural and minimally processed, but also how the shoe is made. I appreciate a minimal approach to life, simplifying the complex to produce more streamlined results.
High ecological emphasis. No chrome, no heavy metals, no petrochemical dyes. The black and umber colored footwear is dyed with plants, and the subtle shoe and hat shades and hand-dyed by myself, using local plants, seeds and shrubs.