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Maklad Wali: When Leather Becomes Art

Filling our feeds with unique style, Jasmine Maklad and Wafaa Wali's line of locally-crafted leather handbags, wallets and accessories, the duo open up about their inspirations as MO4 Fashion puts together a stunning shoot of their latest collection...

The depth of beauty has no parameters. The aestheticism of an object is derived from a multitude of factors; it is not simply a matter of superficial visual appeal. Maklad Wali’s leather accessories, wallets and bags are the perfect example of this. Every object they produce is a work of art reflecting 20 years of friendship, creative and artistic talent and interaction with genuine Egyptian craftspeople who breathe the essence of their lives into every piece of material that come together in harmony producing a unique design.

“Our products are beautiful because we have very positive relationships with everyone we work with from the people who provide nails to leather retailers to our workshop’s craftspeople,” says Jasmine Maklad.

“We approach the process as art, and it is our intent to involve our craftspeople in the creative process,” adds Wafaa Wali.

Maklad and Wali met 20 years ago in graduate school, after which they both joined the world of academia at AUC. Throughout their friendship, the idea began to brew in their blood and blossomed into realisation, four years ago, of their urban, minimalistic brand, Maklad Wali.

Another thing that adds to the final beauty of an object is the struggle and the obstacles that are overcome to produce it. Maklad and Wali are different in many ways, but there are two things they indisputably have in common; persistent relentlessness and a deep sense of ethics, both of which helped them overcome the challenges that range from not having a background in what it takes to make leather bags, to actually selling them. Moreover, there were the people who had no faith in them saying things like they are two women and will find it hard to navigate through the world of leather salespeople, zipper makers and craftspeople. However the pair breezed through it without a care in the world, because of the bonds they’ve created with everyone they work with.

Sentiments and relationships like these integrate into the soul of the final products, which are ever-changing and unique. The creative design process is ongoing, evolving, and “for each model we produce about 20 pieces. A lot of them are limited editions. We select each piece of leather. Sometimes the leather is inspiring in itself. It is a very organic and detail oriented process,” says Maklad, who goes on to describe the undying value of leather by saying “Leather is so beautiful…it ages, it changes it takes on your personality. We need to develop an appreciation of that. It’s an object of actual value to own.”

Maklad Wali is a brand, but it is not a brand carrying a meaningless label that is produced en masse. It is a brand that caters to individuality and stems from creativity. Another characteristic of this brand is almost impossible to find in any other authentically Egyptian brand, and that it is meticulously made and the quality is so high, it sets an entirely new standard in the market; one that just might be impossible to meet.

“We view everything we make as things you can actually use for years and years to come, and not just for a season,” says Wali. The objects you own should grow with you, add to your personality and take from it, and not disperse after weeks into oblivion.

Moreover, the designs are inspired by things from memory and things they see. For example, one of their pieces called ‘Mondrian’ is inspired by and named after the artist Piet Mondrian whose work had a lot of geometric shapes and different colours. “We wanted to make a bag that is a work bag for women. You don’t have to look bulky. It’s a very sexy bag,”says Maklad. “We’re very interested in lines and shapes; we like to play with dimensions and proportions used from the times of the Greeks and the Pharaohs. For example, the Karnak Temple is proportional, horizontally and vertically, creating a certain energy in the space. We are inspired by this,” adds Wali.

Shadows and reflections are also elements that play a part in the innovative designs that are full of pleasant surprises. For example, you open a black bag and discover an internal colourful silk lining with floral designs. “There are no rules that things have to go with things. That is the playful element,” reiterates Maklad.

So Maklad and Wali play with things and test them before a final product is created. They play around with everything, different thickness of threads for stitches, different colour combinations that change in hue and they invest a lot of attention to everything which makes them come alive.

“We want people to enjoy having them,” Says Wali referring to their pieces that are full of two Egyptian women’s passion, cultural diversity, humanity, and friendship; not just between them but with everyone involved in the making of each piece.

You can currently buy products from their online store. You can also find their pieces at The Pop Up Shop in Downtown Mall Kattameya. Soon they will be transcending borders and passports and exporting to the awaiting world.

Keep up to date with Maklad Wali on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos produced exclusively for CairoScene by @MO4Network's #MO4Fashion

Styling & Art Direction: Gehad Abdallah

Photography: Lobna Derbala

Hair & Make Up: Mohamed Al Sagheer Salons

Additional Wardrobe: Boho Gallery, The Dressing Room

Model: Mona Gamil

Shot on Location at Villa Belle Epoque, Maadi