APRELLEDUANY: The African Luxury Accessories Brand

APRELLEDUANY: The African Luxury Accessories Brand

Written by Maryanne Maina | From Luxury Business In Africa

Her luxury line is inspired by women of color, who she feels deserves to be celebrated. Meet Aprelle Duany, an African-American living in Nairobi, Kenya who has created her luxury line known as APRELLEDUANY.

She recently launched her leather goods in Nairobi, Kenya, designed in Africa and produced in Europe.

“I am very passionate about developing this luxury brand to show the world, the Woman of Color deserves to be celebrated.  I began with researching my target consumer, her lifestyle and needs, and the type of products that I wanted to offer,” says Duany.

Her bags have African Women inspired names which include: Maathai, Maya, Miriam and Hattie celebrating four women of colour: Wangari Maathai, Miriam Makeba, Maya Angelou and Hattie McDaniel.

“The naming of the products is closely tied to the ethos of the brand, which is to celebrate the Woman of Color for her beauty and achievements.  Each product is named after a pioneering Woman of Color who because of her trailblazing spirit has opened doors for those who follow,” she explains.

The bags are produced in Europe where she works with a small group of artisans using calfskin and a suede interior. For clients who prefer exotic skins, the bags are then created for them, on order.

“The process can take from 72 hours to several days,” Duany said. “Each bag comes with a custom metal tag, which is engraved with our logo. We use sophisticated machinery as well as handcrafting techniques are used to make our products.”

The products are in limited quantity for the three collections offered per year. The cost of the products ranges from $500 for the small leather goods and accessories, and increases to $3,500 and above for custom made pieces with exotic skins and custom gold hardware.

Technology is a large component of the design and prototyping process with the use of a variety of tools such as 3D printers to transform a concept into reality.

Using Exclusive Events

“I approach each design from a problem-solving perspective, from my engineering background; I am able to use innovation to create unique products that have a focus on functionality,” she says.

In regards to serving the affluent African luxury consumer, Duany is using a multi-tiered model that includes exclusive only events and retailing through exclusive boutiques and high-end department stores. The location for the flagship store is yet to be identified.

“Africa is a key component of our luxury strategy, as we want to offer luxury on the continent in a sense that the affluent African consumer is our target consumer and not a secondary market as in the case of many luxury brands now entering the market.  Our initial focus will include West and South African cities, and we will increase our footprint as the brand grows.”

When it comes to legalities in the luxury sector and emerging markets, there seems to be a lot of work to be done to protect luxury brands in Africa.

“There is a challenge of whether existing laws adequately cover the concerns of luxury companies. The difficulty in detection and subsequently enforcement of laws and judgments from courts. Perceived or real impartiality of local courts, especially as relates to foreign companies,” said Jacqueline Musiitwa, Founder of Hoja Law Group.

Musiitwa, a lawyer who advises on intellectual property protection, innovation and the creative industries also adds the importance of having antic-counterfeit strategy.

“All luxury businesses should have an anti-counterfeiting strategy (online or otherwise).  It is important to understand the nuances of various markets.  Emerging markets are not homogenous.  Companies should understand the limitations of laws in various jurisdictions before agreeing to sell and ship products to a location.”

Maryanne Maina is a Kenyan luxury consultant and writer. She has an MBA in Luxury Brand Management from HEC Paris, School of Management.