Modern Handbags in Africa
Self-expression, personal style, and a message to the world—handbags are a portable portrayal of luxury and glamor coupled with a sense of self. The type of bag you choose often says a lot about who you are, what you like, and the tribe you belong to. If you're here, reading our blog, it's safe to say you're looking for something African.
However, the African diaspora is vast—every region has its style. So let's look North, South, East, and West to see the beautiful differences in style. Handbags are an essential part of anyone's ensemble, so come explore the African handbag diaspora and find the style that works for you.
First, we go up north and look at Moroccon Corridor, a Moroccan brand and line of products inspired by the nation's Arts and Crafts. They sell an assortment of beautifully crafted goods, like boho style jewelry, blankets, pillows, rugs, and more—all handcrafted by Moroccon master artisans. But you came to learn about bags.
This is their LSSAN Handbag, handcrafted in Tetouan with authentic Moroccan leather. Inspired by ancient Moroccan culture, the design consists of a hand embossing of geometrical architectural symbols and culture folk and hand-stitched at the edges with leather laces.Every bag is handmade with love and the hope that you'll experience the charm of Moroccan culture.
Now, this next boutique brand brings us to Kenya but brings a European fusion to the style. Bush Princess, founded by Charlotte Lefebvre, operates in Kenya, using ethical, sustainable products and practices for each handmade piece.
This and many other bags are handcrafted by Maasai mothers from the Maasai community in Ngong hills, in Kenya. Fusing a European style with vibrant and authentic Maasai designs aims to bring together the best of two worlds.
In the south, we meet Okapi, a South African luxury brand founded by painter Hanneli Rupert. Guided by the African philosophy of UBUNTU 'I am because we are,' Okapi's ethos is firmly rooted in the idea of farm to table fashion and social upliftment. So, every luxurious, artisanal leather good is handmade in Africa from sustainably sourced local materials.
This bag is finished in Okapi's own ostrich shin leather, which becomes more stunning as time passes. The leather used for each bag is unique since the animal's natural markings are deliberately included.
Last but not least, on our continent-wide fashion tour is a West African luxury brand, Zashadu. Founded by Zainab Ashadum, Zashadu is a leading British/Nigerian sustainable luxury brand specializing in handcrafted leather pieces.
They work with local and sustainably sourced leathers, farmed exotic skins, and rough cut precious stones set in brass. Every piece is created in Zashadu's workspace in Lagos, Nigeria, by a team that uses traditional techniques passed down through generations.
At Zashadu, they love to explore the tension between quiet elegance and unabashed glamour. And they always want you to know, "Please note, each piece is handcrafted entirely by a single artisan, therefore no two pieces are alike. Your bag is as unique as you are."
Check out these bags from our featured designer here.
You can also read our interview with Shanette Price, the CEO of Africa On My Back.