The smell and touch of calf skin leather are sensations comparable only to the flow of silk or the whiff of good whiskey. Handcrafted goods coupled with expert craftsmanship are luxury personified, and Inga Atelier is the brand defining contemporary leatherware, not only in SA but the world over.
Designer Inga Gubeka — with rich representation on Forbes Lists and bags in closets the likes of Cyril Ramaphosa, who received his after his speech at the 2019 World Economic Forum — is going from strength to strength.
Inga Atelier is a contemporary lifestyle brand and is handcrafted in SA from imported Italian leather. Gubeka’s affinity for refinement and dedication to clean lines creates a fusion between African luxury and Scandinavian simplicity. His eye for tasteful opulence manifests into on-trend bags, in all shapes and sizes, that are comparable to the monopolistic luxury of the west. Inga Atelier’s recent collection, for masculine and feminine tastes, Impumelelo and Umendo respectively, are curated, bespoke products that are as trend setting as they are luxurious.
“I research colours, follow trends and seasons. I sketch and then see what comes to mind in terms of the bag’s vision. Every bag is hands-on and crafted in SA with minimal machinery,” Gubeka says.
The men’s collection is titled Impumelelo, which means “success” in Zulu, and the sharp-lines and considered shapes of the backpacks, briefcases and accessories exude prosperity. A stand-out is Umhambi — The Traveler, a backpack tailored for commutes, wherever they may take you. The Atlier’s dedication towards the longevity and personal attachment of their goods is encapsulated by the women’s line, Umendo, meaning a marriage between their customers and their bags. Coming in natural and statement colours, the silhouettes ooze feminine strength and are statement pieces with personality and purpose.
Gubeka says: “My most recent collection was inspired by growing up in a village. I look towards the strength and diversity of the Xhosa nation, and I have found myself very inspired. I grew up in Ngqeleni in Mpondoland — where men would work in the mines as migrant workers. The photo shoot references these liminal spaces of migrancy and identity. We have also released numerous small leather items, which is a worldwide trend; bags are going smaller.”
Nomali — The Moneymaker is a gorgeous, compact wallet that comes in burnt orange and luxurious black leather, and is joined by toiletry bags, luggage tags, wallets and everything in between. Versatility and style are at the forefront of Inga Atelier.
Inga Atelier was the first local leather goods brand to open in Hyde Park Corner, while Gubeka himself has made the lists of Forbes Africa 30 Under 30, and the Forbes (USA) Top 5 accessories designers in Africa in 2016.