Portuguese footwear brand Josefinas supports domestic violence victims with powerful sneakers

Portuguese footwear brand Josefinas supports domestic violence victims with powerful sneakers

You Can Leave

Text: Jolene Khor

The shoes by Josefinas and activist Brooke Axtell make more than a style statement

603 million women live in countries where domestic violence isn't considered a crime. 7 in 10 women are victims of physical or sexual violence. Women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more likely to suffer domestic abuse than to develop cancer of have a car accident. 

These aren't mere statistics. They are the core messages fuelling Portuguese shoe brand Josefinas' sneaker collection, titled 'You Can Leave'. While Josefinas ballet flats gained their popularity on the famous feet of Olivia Palermo, Louise Roe and Leandra Medine, the Portugese brand is hoping the 'You Can Leave' the sneaker collection, designed in partnership with Brooke Axtell, a human rights activist and domestic abuse survivor, will strike a different cord with the public.


You see, neither of the three styles (painted poignantly in black and white) hold back from taboo. They feature laces declaring "100% #proudtobeawoman" paired with traditional garment care symbols, each representing the intolerance of violence, guilt, shame, intimidation, and control, concurrent themes in domestic violence. Furthermore, all proceeds from the sale of Josefinas' solidarity sneaker — leather and handmade in Portugal — will go directly to Axtell's 'She Is Rising', a program which supports victims of domestic violence not unlike herself, by equipping them with the tools they need to start a life without abuse, such as counselling, mentoring, vocational training and safety planning.

"Just like a trivial piece of clothing, it seems to be increasingly essential that every human being also comes with a 'how-to-care-for' label, so that they are not destroyed by another person," said Josefinas CEO Maria Cunha. "The 'You Can Leave' sneakers share five symbols that show 'how-to-care-for' and they are printed so that no one forgets that in a relationship, which should be based on love, mutual care and respect, there is no room for violence, guilt, shame, intimidation and control."

#YouCanLeave sneakers are available online.
Find out more about 'She Is Rising' here.