Every woman needs a leather handbag (or two!) in her cupboard. If you already have a classic one, why not consider making a statement with a cowhide (or nguni) leather bag?
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to owning a cowhide bag is this – no two are alike, which means no matter what style of handbag you choose, you are guaranteed to have a one-of-a-kind handbag. The leather hide will always be unique.
And before you dismiss cowhide as being boring (yes, you’re probably thinking black and white spots), at Modern & Tribal we have three different variations of nguni leather:
Mostly brown with white
Mostly black with white
6 reasons to buy an nguni leather handbag
Aside from being a beautiful, eye-catching leather, nguni comes with a bunch of benefits. These include:
- It’s a water resistant textile, so will keep your belongings protected during wet weather. It’s also resistant to sun and heat damage.
- Nguni is a thick, strong leather that will not rip or tear easily.
- This leather is not prone to cracking, as many other leathers can be.
- Nguni is flexible, breathable and supple.
- It can be dyed or left in its natural colour.
- Cowhide leather lasts at least five times longer than fabric.
Fashion designer Ceri Hoover loves working with cowhide leather. She has a background in interior design. “I was renting design space and making pillows, and one of my favorite materials was cowhide. I was literally playing around, folded over the cowhide and thought it made a cute clutch,” she told the Tennessean.
And just like that Hoover had made her first cowhide bag. She was surprised at the response she received every time she used it. “Every time I carried it, someone would comment on the bag. Friends started asking me to make them one. And I thought, maybe I need to start designing purses.”
She believes the bags she makes are popular for one reason. “They aren’t flashy, but they are sexy. They resonate with women from 16 to 60. People want classic design, and nothing I design is overstated,” she said.
The signature look for Hoover’s namesake line uses a combination of cowhide and camel-coloured leather. “It is sort of my own style. I like to dress down and then add something flashy – the casual, subtle, edgy vibe. And it feels really natural, like you aren’t trying too hard.”
How to choose your style
According to Zumi Kenya, there are four classic styles of nguni bags you should consider adding to your wardrobe. Plus, each of these look great in springbok or zebra leather too.
The travel bag
Everyone needs a travel bag – see it as investment that will last you many years and never go out of style. It can also double up as a gym bag.
Balule, R4 800, available in ostrich, nguni, zebra and full leather.
The everyday tote bag
Every woman needs to own a tote bag – it should be her go-to bag that is big enough to carry all the things she needs in a day. And if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, an nguni leather one is perfect. According to Zumi, “Cowhide bags help you be unique amongst your peers and will also help you save money because they are durable and can last for years.”
Liezl, R1 900, available in nguni, springbok and zebra.
The hide purse
If you’re not quite ready to make such a bold statement with a handbag, why not go for an nguni purse instead? It will guarantee to revamp your style.
Sintle, R800, available in nguni, springbok and zebra.
The classy clutch bag
Heading out for a night on the town? Add some sass to your evening look with an eye-catching cowhide clutch bag – you’ll definitely be the talk of the night!
Khaya, R850, available in full leather, nguni, ostrich, springbok and zebra.
How to choose the right colour
Be bold and create your own sense of style. Live by Gianni Versace’s words, “Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.”
Looking to embrace your inner cowgirl? Then go for the classic black and white nguni hide. It definitely won’t look out of place with a pair of boots and worn jeans.
Do you dress to impress? Choose the mostly brown with white nguni leather. The rich tones of this leather make it versatile yet formal. Wear it out at night or to the office.
Prefer a more formal look? Opt for the mostly brown nguni skin – it offers sophistication without being too loud.
How to care for a cowhide leather handbag
Although leather handbags are incredible durable and long lasting, you still need to take special care of hairy leather accessories. Avoid wearing a cowhide leather bag with heavy or embellished materials – these can rub against the fur and cause unsightly bald spots.
Over time, you might find that the fur is collecting dust. Get yourself a dog or cat brush and comb the fur as gently as you can – you don’t want to pull out any of the fur. You can also use a damp cloth to get rid of dirt; just make sure you wipe in the same direction as the hair lies. If you have used a damp cloth, make sure you air-dry the handbag completely before putting it away.
If you notice a patch of hair is matted or won’t lie in the right direction, use a small bit of hair conditioner – simply massage it gently into the fur and then brush it out.
What makes nguni so special?
Nguni cattle descend from the Bos taurus and Bos indicus breeds and first entered Africa some 8 000 years ago. As the tribes moved towards southern Africa, they took their cattle with them. Nguni cattle, through natural selection and environmental interaction, evolved into the hardy breed we know today. And, according to Famer’s Weekly, they are “probably the most beautiful cattle in the world, and their magnificent hides are in great demand as rugs and furnishings.”