There is a certain electricity in Istanbul that must be experienced, not explained. The city’s juxtaposing European and Asian sides give it an abnormal, albeit enthralling heartbeat: deep history and culture bump up against modern growth and exploration. In the trendy neighbourhood of the European side’s Beyoğlu, which played host to fancy shops and foreign embassies in the 1800s and then saw a major decline in popularity, a revival is surging. Fashion, architecture, food, and design are in abundance here, perhaps making it no surprise that it is where Merve and Beste Manastir run their much-buzzed-about leather accessories label Manu Atelier.
The Manistir sisters developed an understanding of, and appreciation for, leather craftsmanship from a young age—their father Adnan is an artisan leatherworker with over 50 years of experience, and now actually works in the Manu Atelier studio handmaking pieces. Founded in early 2014, the brand has garnered significant attention outside of Turkey in the last year, becoming known for outside-the-box bags with interesting structure, classic tones, and fine attention to detail. The unique, versatile designs surged in demand in 2015, with luxury Turkish department store Vakko at one point actually having to restrict customers to buying a maximum of three Manu Atelier items per month. Also sold at Selfridges, among others, the label is helping put the fashion world’s finger to Istanbul’s racing pulse.
Now, in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), the brand has been tapped by women’s support charity One Million Sisters to create a special leather bracelet for which all proceeds go to the organization. The pretty nude wrap design, sold exclusively through European high-end online retailer Stylebop, is handmade in Manu Atelier’s studio using only pristine-quality and ethically-sourced materials. Models Elisa Sednaoui, Christy Turlington, and Caroline de Maigret are three of the famous faces tapped to help promote the project, of which the Manu Atelier siblings are thrilled to participate in.
One Million Sisters was founded last year by sisters Laetitia and Katia Belmadani in order to foster economic and social empowerment for women around the world. Working with organizations including the United Nations Foundation and the Oak Foundation (and in the case of this initiative, Pro Mujer, Care International, and Every Mother Counts), One Million Sisters begins and ends with the simple idea that women should lift up and support one another. The charity bracelet, designed by Laetitia and implemented by Manu Atelier, is a tangible reminder of that belief. You’ve heard of wearable technology—think of this as wearable philosophy.
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