How to Buy Handmade Leather Bags in Nigeria: A Guide for Quality and Style
Handmade leather bags are more than just accessories. They are a reflection of the rich and diverse culture of Nigeria, where skilled artisans use traditional techniques and materials to create unique and durable products. In this blog post, I will show you how to buy handmade leather bags in Nigeria, what to look for in terms of quality and style, and why they are a better choice than mass-produced ones.
The History and Origin of Handmade Leather Bags in Nigeria
Leather is one of the oldest and most versatile materials in human history. It has been used for clothing, footwear, furniture, and more. In Nigeria, leather has a special significance, as it is closely linked to the ancient and influential Hausa-Fulani civilization.
The Hausa-Fulani people are known for their expertise in leatherwork, especially in making bags, shoes, and hats. They use locally sourced leather from livestocks, and dye it with natural colors from plants, minerals, and insects. They also decorate their leather products with intricate patterns and motifs, such as geometric shapes, animals, and symbols.
The Hausa-Fulani leather bags are called kofar mata, which means “women’s bag” in Hausa. They are typically small and rectangular, with a flap that covers the opening. They are worn over the shoulder or across the chest, and are used to carry personal items, such as money, keys, and cosmetics.
The kofar mata is not only a practical accessory, but also a symbol of status, identity, and beauty. It reflects the wearer’s taste, personality, and social position. Women receive kofar mata not only for their beauty but also as a heartfelt expression of love and friendship from their husbands, relatives, and friends.
The Different Types of Leather and Designs
The kofar mata is not the only type of handmade leather bags.There are many other styles and designs that cater to different preferences and occasions. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Moroccan bags: The Moroccan culture and architecture inspire these large and spacious bags. Soft and smooth leather makes them, and they feature colorful embroidery, tassels, and metal studs. They are ideal for traveling, shopping, or going to the beach.
- Satchels: Sturdy and durable leather makes these medium-sized bags that are similar to the kofar mata, but have a longer and wider shape. They have a buckle or a zipper to close them.They are perfect for everyday use, as they can fit a laptop, a book, or a water bottle.
- Clutches: These are small and elegant bags that are designed to be held in the hand or under the arm. They are made with fine and glossy leather, and have a snap or a magnet to secure them. They are suitable for formal events, such as weddings, parties, or dinners.
Types Of Leathers
The leather used for making these bags can vary in terms of quality, texture, and color. Some of the most common types of leather are:
- Full-grain leather: This leather is of the highest quality, made from the top layer of the animal’s skin. It retains the natural markings, scars, and pores of the leather, giving it a unique and authentic look.
- Top-grain leather: Skilled artisans carefully select the lower layer of the animal’s skin to craft this top-tier leather. They then sand and polish it until it gleams, eliminating any blemishes and revealing a smooth, uniform surface.
- Genuine leather: Instead of using prime cuts, manufacturers turn leftover animal scraps into this low-quality leather by gluing and pressing them together before finishing them with artificial colors and finishes.
The color of the leather can range from natural shades of brown, black, and tan, to vibrant hues of red, blue, and green. Different methods of dyeing can achieve the color, such as:
- Vegetable tanning: This is the oldest and most Eco-friendly method of dyeing leather, as it uses natural substances from plants, such as bark, leaves, and fruits. It produces warm and earthy colors, such as caramel, chestnut, and olive. It also preserves the natural characteristics of the leather, such as its smell, texture, and breathability.
- Chrome tanning: This is the most common and modern method of dyeing leather, as it uses synthetic chemicals from metals, such as chromium, aluminum, and zinc. It produces bright and vivid colors, such as pink, purple, and turquoise. It also makes the leather softer, smoother, and more water-resistant.
The Benefits of Buying Handmade Leather Bags in Nigeria
Buying handmade leather bags in Nigeria has many advantages, such as:
- Supporting the local economy and culture: By buying handmade leather bags, you are supporting the livelihoods of the local artisans and their families, who rely on their craft for income and empowerment. The designs and styles of the bags also reflect the cultural heritage and diversity of Nigeria, which they promote.
- Getting a unique and personalized product: Handmade leather bags give you a one-of-a-kind and customized product, that care and attention to detail make. You have the choice of the type, color, and size of the leather, as well as the design and decoration of the bag. Your name, initials, or logo can also be engraved or embossed on the bag.
- Getting a high-quality and long-lasting product: Handmade leather bags offer you a product that high-quality leather and craftsmanship make, that lasts for years and even decades.. The leather will age gracefully and develop a beautiful patina over time, adding more character and charm to the bag .
Challenges of Buying Handmade Leather Bags in Nigeria
However, buying handmade leather bags in Nigeria also has some challenges, such as:
- Finding a reliable and reputable seller: There are many sellers of handmade leather bags in Nigeria, both online and offline, but not all of them are trustworthy and honest. Some of them may sell fake or low-quality leather, or use unethical and harmful practices, such as animal cruelty, child labor, or environmental pollution. You need to do your research and check the reviews and ratings of the seller, before making a purchase .
- Paying a higher price: Handmade leather bags are usually more expensive than mass-produced ones, as they require more time, effort, and skill to make. The price also depends on the type, quality, and quantity of the leather, as well as the design and decoration of the bag. A handmade leather bag requires a premium payment from you, but you can also treat it as an investment, as it outlasts and holds its value better than a cheap and generic bag.
- Dealing with shipping and delivery issues: If you buy a handmade leather bag online, you may face some issues with the shipping and delivery of the product, such as delays, damages, or losses. You need to check the shipping policy and costs of the seller, and choose a reliable and secure courier service. You also need to track your order and contact the seller or the courier in case of any problems .
List Of Local Manufacturers
If you are looking for the best places and websites to find handmade leather bags in Nigeria, here are some of the options that you can consider:
- African Things for Bulk Purchase: Offering a wide selection of bags designed for wholesale orders, perfect for businesses and boutiques seeking to offer unique and ethically sourced products.
- Ahme Couture: Known for their elegant and sophisticated designs, Ahme Couture creates timeless pieces that combine modern trends with traditional Nigerian craftsmanship.
- Helade & Sola Bags: Focusing on functionality and durability, Helade & Sola Bags create handcrafted leather goods that are perfect for everyday use.
- Detail Africa: Specializing in intricate beadwork and traditional designs, Detail Africa offers bags that are true works of art and cultural expression.
- 5 Joel Lani: Combining African-inspired designs with contemporary silhouettes, 5 Joel Lani creates unique and eye-catching pieces that make a statement. ETC
How to Care for Your Handmade Leather Bag
Once you have bought, Here are some tips on how to care for your handmade leather bag:
- Clean it regularly. You should clean your leather bag at least once a month, or more often if it gets dirty or stained. You can use a soft cloth or a brush to gently wipe off any dust or dirt from the surface of the bag. You can also use a mild soap or a leather cleaner to remove any grease or oil from the bag. Avoid using harsh chemicals, alcohol, or bleach, as they can damage the leather and the color of the bag.
- Condition it occasionally. You should condition your leather bag every few months, or more often if it gets dry or cracked. You can use a leather conditioner or a natural oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil, to moisturize and nourish the leather. Apply a small amount of the conditioner or oil to a soft cloth, and rub it evenly over the bag. Let it dry for a few hours, and then wipe off any excess with a clean cloth.
- Protect it from the elements. You should protect your leather bag from extreme heat, cold, moisture, and sunlight, as they can cause the leather to fade, shrink, warp, or mold. You can use a leather protector or a waterproof spray to create a protective layer over the bag. Store your bag in a cool, dry, and dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. You can also stuff your bag with paper or cloth to maintain its shape and prevent it from collapsing or creasing.
Handmade leather bags in Nigeria are a great way to express your personality and support the local economy and culture. High-quality leather and craftsmanship make them, and they offer various styles and colors to match your preferences.. If you are looking for the best handmade leather bags in Nigeria, check out our website at [African Things], where you can find a wide selection of authentic and affordable products. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more tips and insights on Nigerian culture and fashion.