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The Kenyan Handbag Designer Catching Hollywood’s Eye

The leather bags are inspired by Kenyan and African culture and heritage

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Nthenya Mwendwa is the 37-year old Kenyan designer behind The Label Saba, a brand that is proving that it can compete with some of the world’s biggest names in fashion and handbags in particular, such as Chanel, Hermes, Prada and Louis Vuiton.

Among famous women who have been spotted rocking Nthenya’s handbags are actress Viola Davis, star songwriter Bianca “Blush” Atterberry and the first lady of the Ivory Coast, Dominique Claudine Ouattara.

The luxury leather bags are inspired by Kenyan and African culture and heritage. Mwendwa has showcased her products at events including the Oscars in 2023.

“My passion is for telling stories about my beautiful heritage and showing that Africa can make luxury products that can compete on a global scale,” she asserts.

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The brand cut a niche for itself with stylish yet functional travel bags. Nthenya’s unisex travel bags are made from hair-on cowhide, Maasai beading, fish leather, and top grain leather.

“I wanted to build a sustainable brand. Secondly, I enjoy working with fish leather because there is so much you can do with it,” she noted in a past interview. “There is no limit to what you can do with fish leather. There are a lot of ways you can play with texture and it allows a lot of exploration.”

Label Saba products are sold in the US, the UK, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dubai, and South Africa. She explained that the international markets were key to her growth as the prices can often be considered exorbitant in Kenya.

“In Kenya, customers see these prices as too high and are more interested in buying known brands like Gucci, Dior, and such,” she told Business Daily in 2022.

“Abroad buyers love that the bags are different.”

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