Solana Featured in RVA Mag

This Saturday at Stone Brewing, Solana will be launching a new collection that puts the spotlight on Mexico at an all-day pop-up event. Solana is a shoe brand that uses the power of art to promote worldwide solidarity and cultural understanding. Based in New York, Solana travels the world collaborating with local artists to design shoes that highlight cultures and places that are too often overlooked or misunderstood.

Founder Yasmine Idriss’ travels throughout the world inspired her to start Solana. “I was born in the US, grew up in the Middle East, and was educated in Europe before university in the States,” she said. “By the time I turned 20 years old, I had already visited nearly 40 countries.”

Today, Idriss still continues to venture all across the globe. She says that Solana is a way for her to share her experiences with the world and inspire a love of traveling in others. The shoes are a medium by which artists working with Solana can share a slice of their culture with the world.

“The goal is ultimately for people to hear these stories and step into another culture,” Idriss said.

Yasmine Idriss. Photo courtesy Solana

The debut collection of shoes from Solana featured artists from Lebanon. “Lebanon has been war-torn for almost 50 consecutive years, and yet life goes on,” Idriss told the Del Mar Times. “People are cheerful and, despite a permanent nostalgia that you feel when talking with the Lebanese, they are always hopeful.”

Sales from the Lebanon collection helped Solana to give back to an NGO that educates Syrian refugees in Akkar, Lebanon.

The brand will shift its attention on Saturday with the launch of its Mexico collection. “We chose Mexico for our second collection after visiting Mexico City and falling in love with the place,” Idriss said. “It was raw and beautiful. We saw bright colors mixed with a darker side that’s somewhat like the inside of a heart.”

The Stone Brewing pop-up event will feature seven shoes and seven shirts. After a call for submissions, the collection’s artists were picked once Solana conducted a vote that thousands participated in. “We were overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of submissions,” Idriss said. “We used the public vote and our own panel’s votes to choose the final designs.”

Carolina DM’s Tierra Caliente shoe. Image courtesy Solana

Ultimately 14 artists, ranging geographically from Baja in Mexico’s northwest to Yucatan Peninsula in the country’s southeast, are featured in the collection. Though Idriss compares picking a favorite shoe to picking a favorite child, she is willing to admit “Tierra Caliente” was the first she wore of the new collection. Designed by the artist Carolina DM, the shoe symbolizes the past, present, and future of Mexico.

“This shoe is what we endured, what we dream about, what we live day to day in our country,” the artist said. “This illustration is for Mexico, my Mexico.”

Having spent six weeks traveling throughout Mexico, Idriss hopes that the collection helps to promote a greater understanding of the country. “I think for the average American, Mexico is a place people go on vacation and a place where their workers come from. That’s the sad truth,” Idriss said. “At worst, when vilified, it’s seen as a dirty or dangerous place.”

With Solana’s Mexico collection, Idriss hopes that she can tell a more accurate story about a place that is often misunderstood and misrepresented in the United States. “If you want to know someone, you have to step into their shoes, to walk their path, to see with their eyes,” Idriss said.

Aside from the Solana shoes, Saturday’s pop-up event at Stone will feature food, live music, and craft beer. Stone Brewing will also be announcing the lineup for Throw Down in RVA, a music festival hosted by Stone on Brown’s Island in September.

“To tell the most authentic story possible, a lot of time has gone into producing these shoes and shirts,” Idriss said. “It’ll also be just about one year since the launch of our debut collection in Beirut, so we’ll be celebrating no matter what.”

The celebration will take place at Stone Brewing’s Richmond location, at 4300 Williamsburg Ave. in Rockett’s Landing, from 12 noon til 9 PM on Saturday, June 22. For more info, click here.

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