Scan Magazine, Issue 87, April 2016

Page 36

An ‘It bag’ you can wear with good conscience Feeling slightly guilty every time you fall for temptation and buy another bag? You are certainly not alone, but Malaika’s lets you do good while adding a piece to your collection. The brand designs stylish bags inspired by Scandinavian urban living while sourcing and producing everything in Kenya, creating income in a country burdened by more than 50 per cent unemployment.

While the conscious approach is a nice silver lining, the sleek design is crucial. The bags are fully sourced and produced in Kenya, but Norwegian born-and-bred Smørgrav finds inspiration for the design in Scandinavia – and it shows. “I am inspired by Nordic minimalism and sleek architecture,” she says. “The upcoming summer collection is in fact inspired by Oslo’s new Barcode area, including the much celebrated Opera house.”

By Helene Toftner | Photos: Malaika’s

It all started when founder and designer Ingunn Smørgrav lived in Kenya, where she saw first-hand what poverty and unemployment did to people. “I wanted to do something about it, and my way was to provide people with work,” she says. Thus she went to the Maasai people for leather, to the local township Kibera for recycled brass for the hardware, and finally to a skilled labourer in Nairobi to sew, creating stylish handbags with an ethical backdrop. “People are becoming increasingly aware of ethical design, and questioning how workers are treated and paid. The way Malaika’s works, there are no middlemen, and I know exactly what the conditions are like,” Smørgrav explains. 36 | Issue 87 | April 2016

Did you know… The logo and locks on Malaika’s bags are from old padlocks collected in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums. The name Malaika means ‘angel’ in Swahili, the official language in Kenya, and was initially Smørgrav’s nickname when living there.

Malaika’s bags are available for purchase online and can be shipped to most countries. For inspiration and to buy a conscious designer bag, please visit:

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