Handbags – or should we say, the handbag industry, has changed over the past decade from a status carrying era of luxury “It” bags to the evolution of independent accessibly priced bags that have gained a cult following via Instagram. Don’t get it twisted, shoppers are still coveting those Chanel Classic Flaps or the Dior Saddle Bag, however, more and more creatives are reinventing the statement bag, defined by a new generation of consumers.
With more exclusivity, innovative design and accessible while still upholding to high-quality precision in design, construction and materials, these bags seen all over Instagram have become the talk of the fashion world. Layered storytelling, craftmanship, and heritage are usually tied to a brands identity. With that identity in place, heritages use their apparel categories as a form of marketing while generating real revenue from their handbag, cosmetics and shoe categories.
Now, we are seeing designers create a handbag line with strong attention to detail, vivid storytelling, and innovative designs that are perfect for that Instagram savvy influencer. In our efforts to diversify the handbag brands, we’ve narrowed down to 4 of our favorite handbag brands headquartered in the Middle East and Africa!
Founded in 2017 by Egyptian designer Leila Abo Tira, ALIEL — Leila spelled backward — goes by the slogan creative possessions expressed in art. Every design has its own story and inspiration. While attention to detail and fine finish are a constant of the ALIEL brand, there is no standard signature in the designs, each collection is different and unique. Each piece talks a different language that represents Leila and every woman. ALIEL aims to empower and inspire women through pieces of Art. The brand always celebrates originality, individuality, equality, and freedom.
The Femi Handbags brand aims to capture a spirit of individuality which does not attempt to adhere to seasonal trends. Perceived as works of art, the handbags are made from the finest leathers and inspired by simple, classic shapes and vintage-styled silhouettes. Artisanal, handcrafted touches such as whipstitched sides, hand-stitched, rolled handles, and hand sewn straps have become synonymous with the Femi Handbags aesthetic.
The pieces feature vibrant color palettes, the use of hardware as decoration and a ubiquitous infusion of the beautiful hand-loomed fabric, aso-oke, woven by artisans in South Western Nigeria, an unmistakable signature of the brand. The quality of the craftsmanship, the designer’s acute attention to the minutest details, and the skillful merging of traditional crafting techniques alongside new technology have come to define the essence of this fast-growing African brand.
Brand 0711 was founded in 2012 by Nino Eliava and Ana Mokia. Girls have met in childhood during holidays in Mexico, and the idea of the joint project came many years later when they were studying and working in London. Nino and Ana got an education in sphere of business and management, now harmoniously sharing the responsibilities – Nino is behind the creative process, while business growth is up to Ani. The idea of 0711 creation (by the way, these are girls’ favorite digits) appeared in parallel with an online project MORE is LOVE.
Each 0711 hand-woven product is created manually by artisans in Georgia. The artisans are elderly women for whom knitting is a very native and favorite craftsmanship passed from ancestors. Innovative knitting technique in organic glass and plywood frames were adopted in 2015 for the most popular style ‘Copacabana’. Today among the brand’s top models are also ‘St. Barts’ and ‘St. Tropez’. Improvising with traditional weaving and shapes, 0711 introduced pearl beaded bags with various models from bucket to tote bags, mixing it with the brand’s multicolor plywood and plexiglass frames.
Rula Galayini is a reflection of the woman who wears it: strong, edgy, and sensual; a power-bag and a contemporary statement piece. Her collections are designed for the everyday yet tailored for the surprises that one never expects. With its playful metal work, buttery leathers, streamlined geometric designs and contrasting colors, her bags are as distinct and remarkable as the women who carry them.
Responding to a demand for authenticity and a lasting story that resonates with women of all ages, Rula has built an internationally acclaimed brand that caters to the woman who wants to set her own standards and to express herself wholly without compromising on taste, and more importantly, on herself. Rula Galayini is designed in Dubai, and fully manufactured by skilled artisans in Beirut, truly making it a proud ‘made in the middle east’ brand.