Enduring footsteps thanks to The Kaya Gladiators

Lifestyle Fashion

Not just a style statement, The Kaya Gladiators by Aprajita Toor has established a strong footing in the realm of legacy-inspired footwear. Inspired by the ancient craftsmanship of the Kayan tribe of Burma, a matriarchal culture dating back to the Bronze Age, the collection is an ode to their enduring influence. Infusing heritage elements with contemporary flair, the new line stands as a testament to the timelessness of simple designs.

When it comes to seeking inspiration, Toor invariably turns to history. “It’s the perfect place to find rich narratives that, with a bit of modern innovation, provide a wellspring of ideas,” she says. She wanted to infuse the stoic forbearance depicted by the tribal women of the Kayan tribe, who “unfortunately have been kept outside of historical narratives. The spotlight is always on the warrior men, such as gladiators. My research, however, focused on the brave women who, throughout centuries, have survived a male-dominated world with resilience. It’s this aspect that manifests through the look and feel of the new range”.

Infusing heritage elements with contemporary flair, the new line stands as a testament to the timelessness of simple designs.

Crafted in leatherette with cushioned insoles, the design borrows from the geometry of the neck rings worn by the women of the tribe. A symbol of power and beauty, the rings symbolise matriarchal superiority. Using Grecian shades of gold and silver, “each pair is a visual metaphor for their unyielding tenacity”, says Toor. Consistency and mastery in the construction of the silhouettes are the distinctive elements of this collection. “In addition to the synergy in structure and shades, the ring design is common to all styles—flats, pencil and block heels,” she says.

Finding footwear that blended style and comfort was always a challenge. Toor ventured into shoe designing driven by necessity. On an ordinary winter morning in 2012, an extraordinary plan hatched: the introduction of her bespoke, handcrafted footwear line incorporating innovation, wearability, sustainability and accessibility.

Of late, her embroidered bridal sneakers have also gathered wide appreciation. “Fed up with the agony of post-party sore feet, I decided to flip the script and introduce party sneakers. “Though many deemed it impractical, eventually, everyone embraces my unconventionality,” she says. Here’s to walking the off-beat path, while staying in step with style.

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