Minima is an Australian leather accessories brand that is both sophisticated in design and sustainable in approach. The woman behind the label, Amanda Lee, designs and handcrafts each of her handbags in Perth, establishing the brand’s uniqueness. We caught up with Amanda to learn more about Minima, its philosophy, and find out her stance on the sustainable and ethical fashion industry.
Tell us a bit about your brand and what it stands for.
Minima is an Australian accessories brand inspired by architectural forms and Scandinavian natural mode, combining traditional craftsmanship and contemporary minimal design. We are committed to delivering effortless style that is trans-seasonal and versatile.
We don’t believe in mass production and therefore we don’t use any machines whilst making our bags. Each and every one of our handbags is 100% handcrafted using traditional techniques from around the world. Our new sandal range is designed in Australia and individually handmade in Greece by locally skilled craftsmen, using our range of vegetable tanned leathers.
What’s your background? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I have a background in interior design, which gave me an opportunity to travel to some Italian tanneries where I fell in love with leather.
I have always been a crafter of sorts, making clothing and jewellery. I never thought I would actually have this opportunity to design and create for others – it is very rewarding to see people enjoy my creations.
Why did you begin Minima? Why footwear and accessories?
It began as a hobby, making handbags for friends and family. I found it emotionally rewarding so I decided to turn it into a business in order to follow my passion. I travelled to Florence to study under an artisan who had over 30 years experience in crafting leather by hand, learning a great deal about leather tanning and traditional techniques.
Whenever I travelled overseas on holidays I always came back with a handbag or pair of shoes that had been handcrafted by a local craftsperson. I loved the feeling of supporting someone in their craft and having something unique, that would last over time. This gave me inspiration to start making my own designs.
What inspires your designs?
A variety of things inspire me: the simplicity of Scandinavian design, the colours of nature – most of my inspiration comes from shapes and designs of architecture. It starts with the analysis of architectural patterns and forms that I find on my travels, which are then transformed into a more simplistic design.
Can you discuss the craftsmanship that goes into each piece?
Each and every one of our handbags is 100% handcrafted using traditional techniques. Each piece is carefully cut, assembled and sewn by hand using a range of leather craft hand tools. By keeping a hands-on role, no two creations are exactly the same, each making its own unique statement.
How do you source your leather?
From time to time I visit the Linea Pelle fair in Milan to see new designs and colours, but I have a reliable supplier in the Tuscany region that I continue to buy from.
All our premium vegetable tanned leathers are sourced from a traditional Tuscan tannery – part of the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium. They are one of the best Italian tanneries with a long history and knowledge of leather production.
What sustainable and ethical practices does Minima have in place? How are you doing your bit?
I always try to source sustainable products wherever I can, from our leathers to the packaging.
The vegetable tanned leather productive cycle is strictly monitored to ensure a low impact on the environment. It is the most natural and eco-friendly type of tanning – no animal is killed for its skin, it is tanned with natural tannins therefore does not contain toxic substances, and the tanneries have made huge investments in purification systems and waste management.
All our packaging is made from recycled or natural materials.
Your triangle clutches are your most unique design. How did you come up with the idea?
The Triangle Clutch was inspired by the mosaics of Morocco and Andalusia. I designed this piece when I was there a few years back. It represents the intricate mosaics of the Hassan II Mosque.
I wanted to incorporate the technique of origami into this design. After experimenting with some ideas I found a simple way to create the triangle shape with just one piece of leather.
What’s next for Minima?
I hope to help move the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction, valuing exceptional design, traditional craft and the environment.
I aim to maintain the handcrafted quality, which I am very proud of, giving customers an ongoing experience not just an everyday purchase.
Minima designs will be available for purchase at the upcoming Bowerbird Design Market on the 23-25th November. For more details, see here.
Images supplied by Minima.