Even if you haven’t heard the names Winston Udeagha or Winston Leather, you might have come across the company’s products. Last June, the Nigerian leather brand celebrated the biggest leather sales in its 30 years of business. The boat was thanks to a tweet from Fashion historian Shelby Christie, highlighting the fact that Winston Leather’s tannery supplies leather to luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren.
In an interview with Insider Udeagha shared that handbags are not just a fashion statement to him—but a part of his heritage. The craft of leather making was passed down to him from his father, who learned it from his relatives. The family’s tannery is located in Kano, a city in the northern region of Nigeria, known as the capital of leather manufacturing.
When Ugheada founded Winston Leather in the early 1990s, the company was mainly supplying leather to luxury fashion brands which then sold their products at luxury price points. The designer has since started selling leather accessories like shoes, laptop sleeves, and most recently, handbags on the Winston Leather website. Most of Winston Leather’s handbags range from $55 to $200. Udeagha has stated his goal to make luxury fashion more inclusive, especially for people in his community who manufacture leather but don’t own it themselves.
In 2020, Winston Leather reached a large new audience following Christie’s tweet, and Udeagha said he hopes to contribute to a changing conversation around how luxury is defined. “My idea of luxury is to be able to express yourself through fashion or other products in a way that is unique to you,” Udeagha said.