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It’s all about the bags

 

Berber pharmacy showing fabric and leather dye

Meeting honest people that are not just trying to get the maximum amount of money out of me is a rare event in Marrakech, but one has to stay positive and embrace the banter that this creates. Taking into account that it is not my first but forth visit to this enchanted city.

All this is part of the Moroccan/Marrakech experience.

Long walks through the artisan shops

Lost while walking down bag making street

There were days, however I felt extremely frustrated as when I planned and booked this trip I had anticipated meeting the artisan on my second day.

I had a contact here and he had promised to introduce me to the artisan that made my previous bags. However he went on holiday and was not returning for a while, which is a shame, as I enjoyed working with him, even if I found the efficiency and time keeping not being his strong point.

This had left me with the mission of finding someone as soon as possible as I only had a week left and the idea of spending 2 weeks here and going back without having the production side of things dealt with is just something unthinkable. With this in mind, I started going for very long walks in the Medina and specifically in the leather area. Met lovely people, drank plenty of tea, had shoulder massages in the traditional pharmacies, played with chameleons of all sizes, and above all leather artisans… however none of them were willing to make my designs, for one reason or another.
Chamelion walking on my arm

carpet souk selling fabrics

During another walk I saw something different, I was mesmerised by the beauty of the work and how different all the bags were to everything else I had seen to date, it beckoned me. I politely asked the young man and he went to get his boss Omar. After a 5 minute chat he agreed to make the prototype of my bags, the unisex bag, a ladies bag, a backpack, some wallets, and 2 different belts (man and ladies).

Bag making by hand

At this stage excitement was an understatement; I got my sketch book out and drank tea while sharing ideas, ideals and leather. We “leather” bonded!

Omar has been working with leather for over 30 years, a trade he took on when he was a young man.

We discussed his story, where he came from… it turns out his family are farmers and he enjoys farming too, but his passion lies in working with leather and making things with it, it’s his dream of having his own shop and making his own bags. And pass the trade on.

Leather bags pattern cutting

He works with loads with materials even newspapers and plastic bottles. He sources his leather from small auctions.

All leather is tanned without the use any chemicals to treat the leather as well as he only uses goat, lamb/sheep and cow leather as they are the only ones that are widely available and they all come from the animals used for meat.

Anyway, I had my second meeting with Omar where we discussed the designs in detail, from what kind of stitching, the colour, texture, what kind of buckles, what kind of straps, size, material, the use of fabric, how many pockets we discussed each bag in detail. I think he was quite impressed with the ideas I came up with, however he was also a bit stubborn in others. Which is good as it makes me think and makes me adjust the design of each bag itself to make the production of each bag not too complex.

The prototypes were made, and I am beyond ecstatic with the result, I am going to make a couple of adjustment to all but they are only small, just the detail.

Bag making - fabric lining for leather bags

It was time to come back, and enjoy a very British summer which obviously involves a lot of rain and chilly temperatures. I must say I miss the heat!

Last sunset in Marrakech

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