Aurora James’s Closet Is Like Being in a Brooklynite’s Secret Garden

Brother Vellies’s creative director hangs her Valentino and vintage finds from branches. New York.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Styling: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Renée Rodenkirchen

You might think the Brooklyn artist thing is about as tired and hackneyed as the idea of the Brooklyn hipster. In some cases, maybe so. But there are real deal creatives all over New York (and by no means exclusive to Brooklyn)—we just so happened to stumble upon one such person at her apartment-meets-studio in Bed-Stuy.

On the surface, Aurora James’s home (and closet) is pretty much a Pinterest board come to life—she has favorite dresses hanging from a real branch installed in her bedroom, and boughs of super fragrant flowers filled her studio space. But they were all the kind of inimitable touches (art bought on the street in Kenya that, in a weird twist of fate, was inspired by a Suno lookbook shot) that frankly don’t come from decor inspiration boards or magazines, but from unadulterated, full-speed-ahead creativity and imagination. Which is how one might describe James herself and her accessories label, Brother Vellies (can you tell we’re big fans over here?).

In case you haven’t been keeping up with her fashion news in the past two years, allow us to explain. Brother Vellies is James’s line of shoes and bags, which are not only painfully cool (and repped by everyone from Kanye West to Anna Wintour), but also ethically produced in Africa, where they’re handcrafted using traditional techniques by local artisans in South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and Ethiopia. Just when you thought you’ve heard too much about hoarding Saint Laurent bags (guilty), James is here to remind us all that fashion can be thoughtful and meaningful, too.

Not to say the girl doesn’t love fashion and collect it like the rest of us though—she has, quite literally, racks on racks. Besides owning and wearing pretty much every pair of shoes and bag she’s ever made (which makes for an excellent collection as far as we’re concerned), she also has enough vintage to stock her own store, a few very *special* Valentino pieces, and a lot of Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, including one dress she wore to pick up her CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. See? Inimitable.