From Elsa Hosk to Emili Sindlev, Turkish brand Manu Atelier’s ‘Kesme’ bag has nestled itself onto the shoulders of our region’s most inspirational fashion icons
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According to Manu Atelier co-founders and sisters Beste and Merve Manastır, it all begins with leather.
As the daughters of one of the oldest craftsmen and leather goods manufacturers in Istanbul, Turkey, the sisters grew up surrounded by leather goods. "Our childhood memories are filled with the smell of leather and the memory of us making miniature handbags with leftover leathers taken from our father's factory," the duo explains.
Since the brand launched in 2014, it has made a mark on the Nordic market. Their first-ever collaboration was with Danish brand Rotate, founded by Jeanette Madsen and Thora Valdimars. "For our first collaboration, it was important to align ourselves with the right brand and work with people that share similar values and aesthetics." Ever since the region has served as inspiration for the Manastır sisters in terms of aesthetics and purpose. "We have always loved the scandi style; the laid-back chic approach and minimalist styles are also very much part of Manu Atelier's aesthetic."
Today, the brand's handbags and shoes have become staples in the wardrobes of the Nordic style set. Favoured by the likes of Swedish supermodel Elsa Hosk or slung casually over Danish influencer Emili Sindlev's shoulder on a coffee run – The geometric Kesme bag perches atop the throne as the It bag of the moment.
"We designed the Kesme back in February 2021," says the Manastır sisters. The idea was to create a new iconic bag with a unique shape that would align with Manu Atelier's recognisable structure and shapes. "We love the little handmade details on this bag, like the different edge colour paintings that define and highlights the shape better."
The bag comes in two sizes and a plethora of colours, from octane greens to candy pinks. The bag is an elevated everyday companion with its geometric shape and suede lining. "We also wanted to make sure that the bag is versatile by making the chunky chain removable. That way, it can take you from day to night very easily."
Their artisanal approach to production is passed on from the duo's farther – from the leather hand cutting, edge painting, moulding, shaping, and hand stitching. All of their products are entirely handmade. "Sustainability has always been part of our brand's ethos, having always focused on a zero waste policy as part of our production. There is nearly no machinery used in production" Today, the techniques are all done by hand by skilled artisans in the brand's atelier. "We wanted to pursue our father's legacy and create a brand that fuses artisanship with modern aesthetics," they say.
"The leather we use has had minimal chemical treatment and therefore is less harmful to the environment." All stages are handled locally in the brand's in-house workshop, from the design stages to the local sourcing of the raw materials to the actual production. "Our production focuses on minimum wastage by hand cutting the leather patterns." Hand cutting means more control and minimises the heavy wastage that usually occurs when using machinery. "As we operate a zero-waste policy, we also recycle any leftover materials and re-use them for the lining on our bags or to create up-cycling products."
Mini Kesme bag