If Zainab Ashadu’s life were to be portrayed as a single work of art, it would almost certainly be a solid, vibrant, multi-dimensional piece, perhaps with lines of varying hues running discontinuously over its surface. It could be a handbag, made of leather and fur, and attractively dyed, suitable for the style conscious cosmopolitan woman.
This handbag is just the sort made by Zashadu, a luxury fashion accessories brand which Zainab herself founded in 2011. Zashadu makes leather bags and other accessories and sells them to customers across the world. These items have variety, daring and style to them, characteristics which seem to be prominent in their designer’s life. They’re also appreciated by the many who have grown to love the brand.
Handbags were a big part of Zainab’s life, right from her childhood days. By the time she was 21, she had amassed a collection of over 200 bags. And although she drifted off to other things- including an acting career in the United Kingdom -she would eventually return to bags. Today, her role as Chief Designer at Zashadu means she’s overseeing one of Nigeria’s foremost fashion accessories businesses.
Zashadu makes its products from leather, goatskin and python skin obtained from suppliers in Nigeria, including local farms in the country’s northern region. It does this at its workshop in Lagos, where trained craftspeople deploy traditional techniques to bring its designers’ sketches to life.
The products on sale at Zashadu include shoulder, mini and top handle bags, clutches, as well as wallets and credit card holders. More recently, they’ve introduced footwear to their range, a move Zainab says gives the brand the chance to challenge itself and reach beyond the luxury handbag niche.
An impressive gallery of leatherwork can be found on the Zashadu website. These items are its products, which you can order on the site. Orders placed from within Nigeria typically arrive at their destination within two working days. It could take three to five days to ship to other countries in Africa, and seven days to have deliveries dispatched to the rest of the world.
The brand does have its accessories on sale in physical outlets in Lagos and Abuja. If you’re in any of these cities and you’re more comfortable with shopping on site, you could pop into any of these stores and purchase your prefered products.
There’s been a growth in the global following for many of Africa’s top fashion lines. Zashadu has taken a share of this rising interest; it now has its bags in the showcases of fashion stores in some of Europe’s major cities, including London and Paris. As a result, it’s gotten a fair degree of international press in the past few years, with features in the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail newspaper, and the China Network Television.
As it’s strengthened and expanded into new markets, Zashadu has managed to maintain a brand image that’s proudly Nigerian and represents a compelling intertwining of artistry, luxury and sustainability. It’s these characteristics that have helped it gain a strong foothold in Nigeria’s expanding indigenous luxury accessories space.