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Maryanne Maina
Focus | 8 juillet
7 mn

Les cuirs exotiques lui vont si bien
Kat van Duinen, styliste sud-africaine, transforme les peaux d’autruche, de python et de crocodile en luxueux objets de cuir.

La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
Her objects of desire have local South African names of women; Kagiso, Thandiwe, Mpumelelo, Nonhle and Lesedi. The Kat van Duinen brand was established in South Africa in 2010 by Kat van Duinen. She uses ostrich, napa, python and crocodile skins to create her leather goods which range from bags, clutches, belts and small leather goods.
« I am proudly South African and guided by a commitment to nurture local artisans and industry, as well as to source materials, whenever possible, from within this rich, eclectic country », she stated. « My brand is designed around a minimalistic, elegant and understated aesthetic, and created for the sophisticated, busy woman who appreciates and understands luxury, looks for feminine pieces that are functional. »
The leather used by the brand is CITES (Convention sur le commerce international des espèces de faune et de flore sauvages menacées d'extinction) approved, licensed and from CITES-certified farmers. Majority of the leather is suppliers within South Africa with the aim of supporting local industries.
La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
From design to final product, creating an exotic-leather piece can lead to six months as it is deeply involving and time consuming. « For example, you may design one style and then find that it reacts very differently when created in python versus ostrich, since every leather type has its own unique characteristics. »

The most valuable of exotic leathers

Crocodile leather remains the most valuable of the exotic leathers, and therefore retains its iconic status as a truly luxurious skin to work with. Ostrich leather, however, demands extreme levels of skill in the crafting process, due to the delicate quill follicles on the skin that often need to be worked by hand, since no two skins are the same. Python skin is thinner in size and requires a fine eye to match hides together in order to create larger pieces. Each exotic leather has its own challenges and unique personality.

« My Autumn/Winter 2016/2017 collection involves more genderless leather accessories that work well for both men and women. We have countless requests for menswear and this collection is a great move towards providing accessories for both genders », added van Duinen.

Her collections are both seasonal and classic. The Kat van Duinen Classics is the backbone of the brand’s product offering to clients and buyers, and while they may be rejuvenated or re-presented in new textiles or colours, they remain timeless and among the bestsellers for the brand.
La créatrice Sud Africaine Kat van Duinen révolution l'utilisation du cuir  © Kat van Duinen
The Kat van Duinen brand ensures there is a balance maintained between the seasonal and classic creations. While creating a business, the challenge of finding more skilled craftsmen to work with the leather is often as well the need for infrastructure to support the industry.

« I believe that anyone who is able to create a thriving business in any manufacturing industry in South Africa deserves credit, because it remains an incredibly difficult thing to achieve. There is a lot of red tape and a distinct lack of supporting infrastructure and systems for business owners. »

An extraordinary cycle of creativity

« Intellectual Property within fashion is always an interesting area of discussion, since design of garments and accessories is largely considered more practical than in other industries, meaning patenting and trademarking pieces is almost impossible », she explained. « But this is partly what drives the extraordinary cycle of creativity and reinvention that exists within fashion, which I believe is vital and to be treasured. This should be embraced and celebrated as part of our industry and what it means to be a creative. »
 © Kat van Duinen
Her inspiration for beauty, and a firm belief that the resources and craftsmanship within South Africa, while using local resources has led to growth of a community in Cape Town, supported by the brand. The ability to give back through job creation of craftspeople and other skills while purchasing locally manufactured resources, has been the core of the brand; giving back to South Africa.

The brand is stocked in boutiques in South Africa, Australia, Germany and Saudi Arabia, an e-commerce site and a boutique in Cape Town, South Africa with plans to open a similar boutique in Johannesburg, South Africa.

More about exotic leathers from South Africa

 Kat Van Duinen's website
Maryanne Maina
Étudiante à HEC Paris - Luxury Consultant on Africa  
D'origine kenyane et actuellement étudiante à HEC MBA Luxe, je suis consultante sur les questions du Luxe en Afrique. J'écris en freelance pour les pages Luxe et Philanthropie de Forbes Afrique
Crédits photo : Kat van Duinen
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Article paru dans le numéro #119 SOLDES D'ÉTÉ
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