By Diane Small
Henna-ed hands, long, wavy hair, summer days, billowing silk and lean, tanned limbs are all perfect accessories for Abury bags. Synonymous with ‘boho-chic,’ the brand has a special aim: to preserve the ancient customs and traditions of the Berber tribes of Morocco.
Abury’s vintage bags, pictured below, are each as unique as a snowflake, and are handcrafted from small herd leather by Berber tribespeople in Morocco, using traditional methods of tanning, dying, embellishing and constructing.
These techniques are something precious for Andrea Kolb, the founder of the brand. Fascinated by national costumes and clothing traditions, Kolb set out to promote the conservation of the Berber’s traditions by establishing a studio dedicated to producing accessories. It uses Berber techniques to create clutches, iPad holders, handbags and more.
Whilst the vintage bags boast handcrafted work rarely seen in the modern world, much to Kolb’s distress, masters of these techniques were few and far between. Consequently, she also established the Arbury Foundation to support Moroccan women in re-learning these skills from the few who still have the knowledge.
Kolb passionately believes craftmaking is as important to a culture as language, and it should thus be preserved.
“We would like there to be some a kind of quality label for “World Heritage Traditional Crafts” – which is looking for and conserving traditional handicrafts all over the world and at the same time, together with recent designers, is developing new products out of it,” she says.
She is currently discussing the possibility of starting new projects with cultures in Asia and South America, but is focusing on Europe as well–after all, there is also much culture and knowledge getting lost here too, and Kolb feels this needs to be protected in an age of mass manufacturing.
“‘With people, not for people’, that is our motto. Close cooperation and a clear focus on the needs of people are fundamental for our work,” she says.
For more info on the brand, click here.