WHO WE ARE
Naledi Copenhagen is a high-end accessories brand with a passion for classic style and exclusive materials. Our designs are unique, discreetly luxurious creations, inspired by personal sense of style, and made to be loved and treasured for many years to come.
NEIGHBOURS IN CAPE TOWN
Naledi Copenhagen is the international brainchild of two friends, Italian Mary Sini and Ukrainian Natalka Hansen, who met each other while living next door in Cape Town. Having educational backgrounds in astrophysics and political science, and coming from fast paced careers in large multinational companies, the couple could claim to be possibly the most unlikely duo to ever start a fashion brand.
Yet it was the combination of the beautiful ostrich leather and the prospect of artisan manufacturing in South Africa, that inspired Mary and Natalka to stray away from the established careers into the exciting world of new and unknown, and create their first collection. That’s how Naledi Copenhagen began, back in 2008.
WHY OSTRICH LEATHER
For their first collection Natalka and Mary chose a lesser known type of ostrich – rough and scaly ostrich leg leather – to show that the highly popular, and same time highly critisized “reptillic” look can be achieved without any ethical baggage – by using 100% sustainable ostrich leather.
South Africa is world-famous for it’s luxurious ostrich, but the beauty of this leather is far from being its only attraction. It is an ethically good choice. Unlike most other exotic species, ostriches are not endangered and are 100% farmed. Ostrich farming is a sustainable operation, where the leather is a co-product of the meat industry. Apart from leather and meat, ostrich feathers, fat and eggs are also important commercial products, as is the extensive tourism industry, created around the ostrich farms. Ostrich farming creates thousands of jobs in rural areas of South Africa. This combination of exclusivity and sustainability makes it stand out among other exotic leathers, such as python, lizard or crocodile, many of which are sourced from wild, even endangered animals, regularly causing a storm of valid criticism directed at the fashion industry.
49/51 BECOMES NALEDI COPENHAGEN
The production of the first prototypes coincided with Natalka’s moving to Copenhagen, where she continued working on the the concept and design, while Mary was working on setting up the production and logistics in South Africa (which at times did require a rocket scientist like her). The brand was initially supposed to be called 49-51, which were the numbers of the neighbouring houses Natalka and Mary lived in. However eventually they chose “Naledi”, a Sotho female name that means “a star”, as a symbol of their aspirations and connection to Africa. Naledi Copenhagen was officially launched in August 2010 in Denmark, thus the “Copenhagen” in the name.
Despite the impending economic crisis, the Danish market responded with a lot of enthusiasm. The collection was immediately bought by some of the best fashion and design stores, including Rue Verte, Normann Copenhagen and Illums Bolighus, and soon Naledi started popping up in the hands of celebrities, including the Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
SCOUTING ARTISAN MANUFACTURING AROUND THE GLOBE
As the brand grew, the network of our suppliers became much more international, and today spans from Cape Town to Milan, from Kashmir to Alicante. Suppliers are chosen personally by Natalka and Mary, where the preference is still given to small artisan studios, who share our vision of sustainable luxury and our code of ethics. The same applies to our choice of materials and leathers. We travel the world to find the best of the best, always setting quality, service and trust above price. Knowing personally the people who make our products, their stories and aspirations, is hugely important and fills our work with a lot of meaning and joy.
Today Naledi Copenhagen is sold in around 30 exclusive boutiques and high end department stores in Denmark. Apart from home ground, Naledi Copenhagen is sold in Norway, Sweden, Singapore and China. Naledi Copenhagen designs two main collections per year, and a number of smaller collections. The bags are available not only in ostrich, but also in other carefully chosen exclusive and sustainable leathers. Ostrich remains our signature leather, which we continue to source exclusively in South Africa. In addition to bags, Naledi designs luxury scarves, to be worn on their own or as a coordinating item with the bags for a perfectly pulled together look.
Welcome to the beautiful world of Naledi Copenhagen.