Beyond the colors, beyond the exciting use of textures and natural materials, the thing with Minku’s leather accessories that caught our attention and held it was the intersection of ideas that each item carries within it.
An Alagbede Minku notebook with it’s striated leather back and banana leaf pages leads you back in time to the mysterious Ife sculptures of the 1300s with their signature scarification while grounding you at the same time in a very contemporary ethically conscious mindset.
An aso-oke lined Minku bag fuses metropolitan style and accessibility with old-world attention to material and detail. Everything about the brand showcases this duality and richness of context and so in the product you find a place where culture meets industry and history meets creativity.
Perhaps its because the mind behind the brand is similar? Kunmi Otitoju left a Stateside career in Research and Computer Science after she was seduced by the call of leather.
“I still hand-make each bag in our collections myself …. for clients in over 20 countries,” writes the twenty something Spain-based yet self confessed merry Lagosian.
Besides leather, I’ve been experimenting with paper — making notebooks, to be precise. Selecting and hand-binding papers, and getting to use exotic snake skins, gold-toned leather, vegetable-tanned leather, and more in quite unconventional ways. And where I deem fit, to combine them with aso-oke fabrics.
She established Minku in 2011 out of an ongoing desire to do something with the beautiful aso-oke fabrics she brought back to Spain from a trip to Lagos. The challenge represented in combining aso-oke, damasks and other special fabrics with Spanish-sourced leathers, the grueling process of hand-cutting and stitching leather that sometimes takes up to 50 hours to complete… all appealed to her.
The result are the beautiful items that we were happy to discover and stock at Stranger.
“With their vegetable-tanned leather covers, rustic gift-wrapping, and exotic papers (made from banana tree parts; imported from Nepal, India and Japan) each kind of leather that is used in our atelier is carefully selected and then plied to give it a tactile sensation,” Kunmi expresses in her blog with the patient and quiet passion of a true craftswoman.
Luxury in my definition is a distillation of the finest aspects of one’s culture, packaged, presented to, and accepted by the rest of the world.
Today Kunmi is deeply involved in developing her own techniques for modifying leather and we look forward to the results of her labour.