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    Nadia Bennis: The Moroccan Designer Modernizing Handmade Slippers

    The Moroccan fashion designer gave the traditional balgha a modern twist, in an effort to restore their trendiness.

    12 Oct 2022

    Rabat - As Morocco celebrates National Women's Day on October 10, the time is ripe to honor inspiring women who have contributed to the country’s development.

    Nadia Bennis has contributed greatly to Moroccan fashion by modernizing the traditional Moroccan slippers, known as “babouches” in French and “balgha” in Darija.

    The fashion designer’s “balgha” collection is handcrafted and distinguished by its fusion of traditional and modern aesthetics.

    As the owner of her own luxury handmade slipper brand “Lababouche,” Bennis also sells her products internationally. The designer has gained a reputation as an ambassador for the Moroccan balgha.

    Bennis wanted to revive the legacy of the balgha, which younger generations had started to abandon in favor of more modern footwear, so she gave it a contemporary twist to encourage young women to wear it.

    Despite the modern additions, she took great care to maintain the balgha’s traditional form with its Moroccan embroidery and other customary accessories.

    Design inspiration

    As she was attending a wedding, Bennis noticed that all the women were wearing high heels, which they eventually took off because they were uncomfortable.

    It was then that she got motivated to create modern, feminine, and comfortable balghas.

    She traveled to Fez, the land of craftsmanship and leather goods. From the visit she noticed a male dominance amongst the vendors and artisans observing that their designs were restricted to the traditional, vibrant leather slippers.

    Bennis believed that as a woman, she would be able to identify with other women's needs and create designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and comfortable.

    That's when she decided to modernize the shoes in an attempt to entice women to wear them again, ultimately coming up with a new style of slippers that are not only comfortable but also fashionable, and can be worn with jeans rather than just caftans or jellabas.

    Moroccan traditional slippers

    Balgha or Charbil is a traditional Moroccan footwear that is available in a variety of shapes and colors. A pair is an essential component of a traditional Moroccan outfit.

    The manufacturing of Moroccan slippers is a lengthy process, beginning with the collection and sorting of raw animal skins (from goats, cows, and camels), followed by cleaning, drying, and dyeing.

    Fez is one of the largest centers for slipper traders and craftsmen but they are available throughout Morocco. Typically, Moroccan slippers are worn during religious celebrations as they symbolize Moroccan culture and identity.


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