Local Label: Verse

WORDS Mary Garner PHOTOS J’Dee Allin ART DIRECTOR Kristi Vlok MODEL Nyana Abouch MAKE-UP ARTIST Celeste Munge


Designer Shelley Lee has reimagined the tote bag, and it’s a beauty.

The fashion accessory brand Verse is the brainchild of Shelley Lee, a Design Indaba 2018 Emerging Creative. She makes leather bags using patterns cut straight from the hides, which she sources from local tanneries – first scrutinising every hide’s texture, weight and colour. Her process involves saddle-stitching hand-punched holes with blunt needles.

“The Haiku tote from my new collection is a response to having observed people’s concerns around keeping their belongings safe,” she says. “By not being precious about the traditional tote shape, I found that by simply tucking the corners, the bag is made secure.”

The brand name pays homage to Shelley’s openness to adaptation and the versatility of her creations. To add a unique signature, each bag is embossed with a poem or a piece of prose.

Shelley will have a stand at KAMERS/Makers in Stellenbosch and Pretoria this summer.

For more information and to shop online, visit versethelabel.com.