Jackfruit Inspired the Look and Feel of These Sneakers

'Designed in Bangladesh. Made in Europe'

There’s plenty wrong with civilization as we know it; we won't make a list. Maybe one of the most insidious issues rippling through the hivemind is this notion that visionary ideas, in tech or in fashion, naturally flow from the West. Meanwhile, those who labor to make it happen mainly live in huge swathes of Asia and Africa.

Hamburg-based Accenture Song worked with Ekn Footwear to launch a new sneaker that turns the aforementioned idea on its head. The Kamthala is a collaboration between the eco brand and Bangladeshi designer Rokaiya Ahmed Purna. As the ads proudly proclaim, it's designed in Bangladesh and manufactured in Europe (Portugal, to be precise).

"In Bangladesh we have a very rich cultural tradition and heritage, which I try to implement into all of my work," says Purna. "My own roots and childhood memories also influence my designs. The inspiration for the Ekn Kamthala comes from the jackfruit, the national fruit of Bangladesh, which I have a deep relationship with: as a child there was a tree right in front of my house where I would play, and draw, and nap under."

"We were specifically looking for a designer in Bangladesh, since the country houses the production of fast fashion like no other," explains Noel Klein-Reesink, the founder of Ekn. "We did some research and came across Rokaiya and her work. After our first conversations, we were convinced about her talent both as a human being and a designer."

The creators hope the sneaker will become a "symbol of respect" that inspires massive fashion producers to rethink unethical supply chain practices, pollution and the exploitation of local populations.

"'Made In' labels not only brush over the unjust conditions that people in the Global South often work under. they also reinforce harmful stereotypes about creativity and production in the so-called 'First' and 'Third World'," says Alexander Grapp, group creative director at Accenture Song. 

"They presume that American and European design is superior to that of the countries where brands outsource their production, which is simply not the case. All of this is what we wanted to challenge with this statement."

The Kamthala is handmade with vegan materials. Its wedge sole and yellow elements are inspired by a jackfruit's meat. The fruit's prickly exterior manifests in the front design. The shoe's otherwise grey color represents the jackfruit tree's bark.

"We've become used to the term 'Made in Bangladesh,' not 'Designed in Bangladesh.' But the new generation of Bangladeshis are starting to think differently and act differently," says Purna. "And as part of this generation, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to create change. I'm living the dream of so many people, so it's an opportunity which comes with a lot of responsibility."


Client: Ekn Footwear             
Managing Director: Noel Klein-Reesink        
Creative Director: Marek Bäuerlein        
Product Design: Rokaiya Ahmed Purna        
Trainee: Raphael Mauckner        
Agency: Accenture Song
Managing Director, Creation: Fabian Frese        
Managing Director, Client Services: Lenart Wittgen        
Executive Creative Director: Martin Terhart        
Executive Design Director: Marcel Krempin        
Group Creative Director: Alexander Grapp        
Lead Creation: Alexander Grapp, Felix Zielke        
Creative Director: Felix Zielke        
Account Managers: Anton Kröger, Kea Jacobs, Olga Baiz, David Gies    
Designer: Jakob Reinhard, Mitja Schneehage, Julia Fiedler     
Copywriter: Sofia Christidou, Lorenz Ritter, Rasesh Patkar
UX Designer: Emma Paraschiakou        
PR: Jessica Hartley, Ruth van Doornik           

Accenture Song Studios            
Agency Producer: Jan-Ole Brendel        
Post Producer: Ole Brand
Director of Photography: Alexander Hildenberg        
Motion Design: Falko Tilgner        
Creative Retouch: Martin Piechotta, Tobias Schlieperskötter        
Art Production: Stephan Gerlach    
Sound Engineer: Klaas Nocken        
Art Buying: Alice Feja        
Influencer Management: Anna Kramer        
Final Artwork: Ralf Selig, Anne Schmuecker        

Production Company, Dhaka
Filmstation Production LTD
Director: Sajeed Sarwar    
Producer: Safat Chowdhory 
Director of Photography: Monzur Anik        
Chief AD: Joy Khan        
Creative Research: Salman Nakib        

Production company. Germany 
27 Kilometer Entertainment GmbH
Creative Producer: Leonard Witte        
Sound Engineer: Kian Djalili        
Post Producer: Dorothe Preut        
Colorist: Julian Wildner        
Editor: Dominik Schacht, Hans Hartmann, Michael Eilers    

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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