With Telfar bags the talk of the town and Peter Do clothing becoming the next big thing, luxury fashion has quietly crept out of the woodwork during lockdown. With more buyers opting for bolder style choices and trends, it’s no surprise that local luxury leather-goods house Inga Atelier has decided to launch a dashing shoe collection.
Founded by leatherworker Inga Gubeka, Inga Atelier’s first shoe range was spurred by a need for practical shoes that Gubeka himself sought desperately while on the prowl for the perfect pair of Doc Martens that would fulfil the sartorial needs of a shoe for any occasion.
“Since I couldn’t find Doc Martens, I thought that I should actually make my own shoes,” said Gubeka. “I started designing and doing sampling but I realised it would be great for the shoes to have cool messaging on them that still dealt with societal struggles.”
The insignia on Gubeka’s new range of shoes will include a mixture of uplifting and inclusive slogans including “womxn” and “Black Lives Matter”, among others. “Obviously, you get people who don’t like the positive messaging but some who do. You can’t make everybody happy and that’s the sad reality,” says Gubeka.
“I want to focus on people who relate to or love the messaging. That’s my thinking and that’s the spirit behind the story,” he says.
Gubeka’s bags, which range from backpacks to sporty luggage bags, often take on a functional and practical form in line with the brand’s minimalist approach to style. It’s no surprise that Gubeka’s oxfords would take a scholastic approach, with a minimal uniform feel that blends perfectly with his range of leather goods. “Shoes that you can wear on a daily basis are quite scarce, especially when they can give you comfort and you can still rock them for any occasion. It also goes back to the idea that you can’t design what you cannot wear. I design something I know I can wear and sell to people.”
As for the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on his luxury business, Gubeka says, “This time has given us a chance to rethink and re-strategise and now we are focusing on our online store. We had to put the store in Hyde Park on pause as a way of cutting our costs and we are planning to reopen our retail operations sometime next year. As it stands, we are currently growing our online audience, which has been fantastic, and the lockdown has helped us focus on that process.”
Gubeka is excited about the future of locally made luxury goods, with designers such as Rich Mnisi and Laduma Ngxokolo hitting it big with overseas audiences. “We are starting to produce high-level and high-quality work that can compete on a global scale.”
• Inga Atelier’s shoe range will be available from mid-October, and will coincide with the release of a new collection of handbags, clutches, and purses. For more info, follow Inga Atelier on Instagram @ingaatelier or visit ingaatelier.com.