Khalid Naitzehou was born into an Amazigh village in rural southern Morocco and moved to Taroudant with his family as a young boy. When he was nine, he began an apprenticeship with a local sandal maker in Taroudant, where his hard work ethic, artistic passion, and creativity was ignited. “The first shoe master I worked for as a kid,” Khalid recalls, “made us celebrate Thursdays as our ‘creative day,’ when we would use leftover materials to create something new, including bracelets, keychains and sandals. That was when my creativity really kicked in, and it had the additional benefit of making me good at drawing.”
Fastforward to the present day — Khalid now lives in L.A. and owns a shoe repair shop at the original Farmers Market at Fairfax and 3rd Streets, where he leads creativity projects and performs repairs for each customer with a unique approach and attention to detail. Whether it be a heel replacement, arch support, handbag repair, or custom foot challenge, he will design something unique and comfortable.
In January 2022, Khalid enrolled in a four-day Custom Sneaker Course offered by “SD Custom Footwear,” to custom-build a Nike hightop sneaker. Khalid packed his bag with Moroccan materials not knowing what he would create but that his design would be inspired by his roots and soul.
His custom designed sneaker is titled “My Journey: Morocco to California.” Khalid adds, “My business slogan is ‘inspired by Morocco, handmade in California’! One of my secrets is that I use all leftover recycled leather from companies in downtown L.A., which makes my handmades affordable.”
The fabric along the hightop sides and the carpet on the tongue are textiles that he grew up seeing, feeling, and working with in Taroudant. The two cloth portions on the sides are connected in the front with a bright red leather to represent a bright future ahead and a black piece of leather in the back to represent his heritage and connection to Mother Africa.
As a young shoe designer in Morocco, Khalid used to view the US as an exotic land filled with different materials that were not commonly used in Taroudant. The most unique leather that he dreamed of touching and working with was alligator leather, thus there is a small accent piece of alligator on the back edge of the hightop, which connects his past with the future that lies ahead.