Shem Paronelli is a Nigerian footwear and accessories brand founded by Shem Ezemma. A self-proclaimed master in the art of storytelling through shoes, the designer honed his craft from a young age with a passion for creating something out of nothing. Determination and a keen eye for detail drove Ezemma to become a self-taught footwear craftsman before ultimately launching his brand in 2010.
Powered by a philosophy of minimalism and strongly influenced by elements of architecture, the Shem Paronelli aesthetic can be defined as modern simplicity. Known for drawing inspiration from cultural elements like tribal, visual, and literary art, as well as the diversity of African youth culture, Ezemma’s designs are also heavily influenced by the artisanal art and craft movements of the 19th century. Through teaming up with seasoned local artisans and the ethical crafts collective MASTERS ONLY Nigeria, he has infused traditional Nigerian techniques with a more modern approach, offering footwear handmade primarily from deadstock leather that celebrates heritage processes while embracing contemporary fabrics, shapes, and silhouettes. Ezemma’s affinity for the slip-on, often manifesting in his collections as sandals or brogue loafers, sets the tone for a casual but elevated design aesthetic.
The designer’s brand collaborations include internationally recognised Nigerian labels Kenneth Ize, Maki Oh, Lisa Folawiyo and Orange Culture. For a belated celebration of his label’s 10-year anniversary in 2021, Ezemma launched a collection of colorful house mules named ShemShem (the name his closest friends and family call him by). Made from luxury deadstock fabrics, the designer announced on Instagram that he would hand-craft the first product run himself: “I wanted to write a true love letter and say thank you for believing in me.”