Eleleck: letting luxe leather speak for itself

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” —Rachel Zoe

One way of communicating you have impeccable and effortless style is through a leather handbag. And it’s easy to see why those practical carriers for life’s essentials can be the source of fashion and style inspiration. For starters, you never have to deal with the anxiety of trying to fit it around you; it adjusts to your personality and style. They can easily reflect the trends and colour of the season or remain a staple classic passed down generations. The versatility of this product adds to the ‘slow fashion’ campaign calling women to closet cleanse and adopt the notion of quality over quantity. One designer joining the campaign to benefit your closet, and style status, is Mercedes Njoki Chege. She started the leather brand, Eleleck, in 2015 and it’s already evident her background in law easily translates into the brand. The need for meticulousness in her products that leave you without a shadow of a doubt that you won’t be held in contempt for your fashion choices.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
Eleleck… that’s an interesting name for a brand.

Thank you. Eleleck is derived from the Maasai word ‘Elelek’ that means easy. We favour simple cuts, lines and neat finishes. The name is a perfect depiction of what we embody: effortlessness and simplicity.

Why did you decide on a leather line… didn’t you originally produce apparel?

Our apparel line is available at Spinners Web. Kenya is an incredible country with an array of beautiful readily available resources and leather is one of them. We have some of the world’s best-finished leather and I saw it as a great opportunity to grow our portfolio. Leather is timeless and pairs aesthetics, durability and functionality in an undeniable way.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
It’s interesting that you decided to keep it simple and not name the current collection. How many pieces are in the collection?

Our collection has grown quite quickly and that has been as a result of the insatiable world of leather crafting and customer interaction. We have 12 different pieces and articles and some have variations in the finished leather. The items in our current range are: travel bags, handbags, sling bags, laptop sleeves, tablet sleeves, wash- bags, makeup bags, wallets, coin purses, card holders, clutches and license holders.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
Why did you decide on those pieces?

When it comes to leather, somehow the durability of the fibre prompts functionality. It was more a process of what pieces are really needed by our customer.

Where do you source the leather?

We source our leather in four different counties from different tanneries depending on the different colour codes and finishes we need for particular products as each tannery has something different to offer. We follow our own internal procurement processes to ensure we procure only the best-finished leather. This is usually informed by various factors such as the quantity we are after, the finish, the product pairing and so on.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
We’ve heard that the bags are surprisingly affordable. Is this true?

Yes, our products range from KShs 1,500- 35,000. Our items are costed according to size. The difference in costing is primarily pegged on the amount of leather used as well as the time it takes to produce a single item. The leather articles cost less in the production process than the more substantial in size items.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
What makes your bags different in an industry that has quite a few options already existing in the market?

For one, our style. Our designs are minimalist and radiate sophistication. We strive to merge class and functionality and make luxury goods accessible at a fair price point.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
I’m assuming you design the bags personally, but who makes the bags for you?

We do and we work with a team of highly trained artisans who employ traditional artisanal techniques in making pretty remarkable products.

What techniques are executed to create the bags and make them quality products?

The quality of the bags first starts with the finish of the leather. The finishing stage encompasses buffing, sanding, pressing and ironing and other steps depending on the desired outcome. One needs to be very discerning when choosing leather as checking for suppleness and breathability is part of the fun that directly sows into the quality of the product. In as far as technique is involved I would say that the use of patterns is of paramount importance in developing a worthy prototype. The construction of the products usually follows a process of pattern making, cutting, assembly, stitching and finishing.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
If it’s my first time owning a leather product, is it difficult to maintain?

Leather becomes more charming with age. Using a damp cloth to care for the products is just about all you need. Of course, you can also use leather conditioners that are available at local stores. With that, just remember to start with a small section of the leather before going all in.

Which demographic are you targeting?

Anyone with great taste. Our products are for both men and women who appreciate good workmanship and fine leather, as well as, understand that good leather is a good investment.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
What inspired the idea behind incorporating the colour code and the kanga interior?

When we started off, we wanted to go all out with prints and patterns. After some time experimenting we realized we needed to make more everyday items.  Leather was a perfect opportunity to articulate this direction our brand is moving into. Outwardly the products are austere but on the inside they are cheerful and we feel its a little surprise for our valued customers.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
What’s next for Eleleck?

We are currently working on a collection for our clothes and are collaborating with a production house in Los Angeles (LA) to develop the line. We chose to go to LA because we really aspire to create a strong brand and the production house we are engaging has lots of experience working with various brands; especially in the creation of patterns and pattern grading as well as sourcing high quality textiles. This is important to us as we would like to complete the production of the apparel in our workshop here in Nairobi. We hope to put out ageless, unpretentious clothing and accessories. Our hope is that our consumers will make the decision to buy better quality items less often.  For our leather range, stay tuned there is a lot more in store.

[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
[Image: Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu / Eleleck]
Eleleck is a brand of a few words because it prefers to let the brand speak for itself. Just like a scenic view, you can never fully grasp it through description. The best way is to see it for yourself. You can order their goods through info@eleleck.com or contact them through Facebook and Instagram. If you’re in Naivasha, you can easily find them at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha. Internationally you can find them at the White Rabbit Collective in Melbourne Australia.

 

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