About andu amet
About andu amet
About andu amet
Our approach to design - Positively impacting our customers, social communities, and environment
Ethiopia is a land of wonders - the land was the home to the first human beings, clear blue skies and the dry land spread for miles, and the noble people of Ethiopia have continued to protect their traditional lifestyles to this day. The baby-soft delicate sheepskin brought up in Ethiopia is a gift from this land's mother earth.
andu amet is an innovative luxurious brand which uses exclusive prized leather from Ethiopia. Our unique designs are inspired by both the radiant colors of Ethiopian artwork and the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship. Every stitch is handmade by our expert artisans in Ethiopia. By caring about the social and environmental impact throughout the crafting process of our beautiful artwork, andu amet offers a new and modern kind of luxury.
|Nurturing a uthenticity||Because we want our customers to enjoy the best, our bags are crafted with exclusive raw materials and special technics.|
|Taking pride in making everyone happy||We ensure that our brand increases the capacity and well-being of all our customers, employees, material providers, and communities.|
Trip to Ethiopia
Ethiopia is located on the corner of the Great Barrier Reef of Africa- an area known to be the origin of mankind. According to its myths, Ethiopians are the descendant of the wise King Solomon and the beautiful Queen of Sheba, making them one of the most elegant and noble people in the world. .
The stereo-type image of Africa such as primary colored dresses, hearty laughter, up-beat music, and black skin do not apply to Ethiopia.
For example, Ethiopia has its own unique “encryption-looking” letters from BC 400, white hand-woven embroidered cotton ethnic costume, mysterious rituals of the "Ethiopian Orthodox", The prayers of the devoted people, own calendar system and the world’s only hewn church, Cross shaped, when viewed from above.
Ethiopia is the first country among African countries on the UNESCO World Heritage list with 12 sites (most are cultural sites).
Also the beauty of Queen Sheba (Ethiopian mythology), Queen Andromeda and Queen Cassiopeia (Greek mythology), has been handed down to the people of this country from ancient times, capturing the attention of all those who visit this land. Even today’s successful super models are from Ethiopia. .
Despite its long history and unique culture, Ethiopia on the other hand is also one of the poorest countries in the world. GNI per capita for Ethiopia in 2011 was 380USD. This is only one fourth of the average value of the Sub-Saharan region (1,256 USD).
The absolute poverty level (people living on less than 1.25USD a day) is 31% and its human development index ranks 174th/187 countries (Japan is 12th). Also, the high unemployment rates (20.5%, world bank 2009), especially among young generations, have been a concern.
Ethiopian Sheepskin, the World's top quality leather
Unique features of Ethiopian sheep skin are the coexistence of its baby-soft leather touch and its strength.
The Ethiopian sheep skin is recognized as the world’s top quality leather, and has been used to create seats for luxury cars and ear pad of earphones that cost more than several thousand USD.
There are 3 secrets which explain the Ethiopian sheep skin’s high quality.
The world is said to have more than 1000 different species of sheep, but even among all types of sheep, Ethiopia’s "Selassie sheep" is famous for having particularly excellent skin.
When altitudes are high, the fibers of the skin become thick and enables the leather tot become extra smooth after the tanning process. Addis Ababa, the city where our studio is located, is located in the third highest altitude in the world. Wild Ethiopian sheep live in the Abyssinian plateau (3000M), which is a much higher altitude than our studio.
Sheep that live in the belt zone of within 15 degrees north and south from the equator, become durable thin skin to protect themselves from the strong sunlight. The Abyssinian plateau is located in this belt zone.
As explained above, Ethiopia
miraculously meets all three conditions needed to create high quality leather. andu amet steps in further and carefully selects the highest graded Ethiopian leather when making our products.
On top of selecting the best materials, we have created our own original tanning and finishing procedures that bring the best features of the skin. For example, most leather products in the mass market often use spray paint for the top coat of its color tanning process to cover the “flaws” and “spots” on the surface, however this loses the leather’s original smooth texture.
At andu amet, we take the small "flaws" and "spots” on the leather skin as proof that the animals have lived freely in Ethiopia’s nature. Hence, instead of covering the uniqueness of each leather, we challenge ourselves to bring out the charm of the original texture.
Beauty created by a mix of cultures
The vivid colors of roses and bougainvilliers shine in the bright sunlight, the shimmers of the blue Nile, and the dark colors of the deep quiet night.
The unique colors in our designs express the beautiful nature of Ethiopia. For example, the colorful layered bags were inspired by “Chimaki” - a colorful fruit juice with many layers of mangos, avocados, and guava.
Also, one of our favorite colors “Green field” represents the grassland that spread to the outskirts of Ethiopia, the soil path that stretches for miles, and the warm smell of the sunlight. The calm and friendly color expresses the peaceful and happy landscape of this country.
andu amet’s unique design is a fusion of Ethiopia’s colorful artwork and Japan’s traditional craftsmanship. For example, the colorful mosaic leather stripe contained in all of our products is created by using the traditional Japanese techniques of "parquet". “Parquet” is usually used for wooden artwork in Japan, but at andu amet we have challenged ourselves to use this technique in our leather work.
All colors/design of our mosaic leather are original, unique and full of “happiness”, for our craftsmen are given the privilege to decide on what colors they want to use when weaving the mosaic leather. For example, a craftsman may use bright colors to express the beautiful sunrise they saw today.
andu amet’s high-quality casual urban styled design cherishes Ethiopia’s unique culture and beautiful nature.
Adherence to hand made
It takes various processes to make one leather product, but in andu amet, all of them are done by the hands of professional craftsman who have undergone strict training.
Take for example, the process of cutting. Every piece of leather finished naturally without any extra processing has its own uniqueness. Because the process of cutting requires one to determine that uniqueness and to consider how to make the most of it, it is in fact, one of the most significant and difficult processes of making leather products; so much so that it is said to be the process of “breathing life into leather.”
Secondly, the process of assembling. An accomplished sense and rich experience are essential in adding and removing the glue and core material, depending on the varying thickness and strength of each piece of leather.
Finally, the process of sewing. Leather, in contrast to cloth products, is originally a material that cannot be resewed, due to the deterioration of its strength when a pinhole is made mistakenly. Ethiopian sheepskin, because it is exceedingly soft and delicate, particularly requires advanced skills which are beyond comparison with ordinary leather. Depending on the design and its use, each product is finished needle by needle, with careful consideration of where to use sewing machines and where to sew by hand.
In andu amet’s atelier, these processes are not divided into production lines, unlike in most factories making leather products. One craftsman finishes with responsibility, from the first cut to the final needle, to make one single bag.
Cutting, assembling, and sewing by machine requires less time and effort. Even if it is handmade by craftsmen, the efficiency would be higher if it were made using production lines. However, products made like that and products made carefully by the hands of each craftsman differ significantly not only in its visual beauty and pleasance, but also in its strength and resistance.
The real meaning of “The Next Generation Luxury Brand”
Andu amet’s ultimate goal is to reach an enriched society in an essential way.
By saying “essential”, we mean the consumer is able to think beyond what they physically see and to feel the extra satisfaction and happiness through our product.
To deliver our philosophy into the society, especially to those who live in the so-called developed nations (including Japan), we believe it is our mission to convey the value of “what is Ethical making” really is.
So, how are we Ethical?
We only procure our leather from a factory which we have confirmed to be trustful from an environmental friendly point of view, and one of our conditional criteria is the cleanup system of chemicals. Also, we only use the leather from food animal not to waste any bit. Even so, leather is usually not in the same shape and each one very different and we thought through our way how to utilize the whole raw leather. That is the time when the idea came into our mind to utilize every waste of the leather and to put it into one piece which now has become our brand icon.
The most important point we emphasize during this tanning procedure is that how we can minimize the effect on environment. Not many tannery can meet our standard by operating their cleanup system beyond our expectation.
Andu amet only have a contract to a tannery which we are confident in them meeting all our criteria. We have physically visited all tanneries and checked with our own eyes.
Our craftsman are all recruited in Ethiopia and by giving them training, they all are skilled to the Japanese standard level. We value in each craftsman’s hand making and we make sure we offer a pleasant and healthy working environment and earning.
Our goal to reach for is not to promote a fast fashion which leads to mass production / mass consumption, but to set up a brand which enables the consumer to take care and enjoy their product in the long term. We will never compromise on the quality of leather and we will make sure we take time and effort to finish off each product fulfilled with the craftsman’s skill and passion. We are also ready to receive you and your lovely product whenever / whatever for repair.
It is beyond our pleasure if each one of you are able to experience the super high quality luxury brand experience through our product and our ambition above.
The message embedded in the brand name
The name “andu amet” was born from an Ethiopian word (Amharic) that describes “one year.” The time when you feel happiness from the bottom of your heart, when you grow amidst of harsh challenges, and when you have a significant turning point…
Each of those memories are the actual proof for carrying out your life and the very treasures of your life.
To convey our intention to provide you with a bag that is like your partner who would walk through a precious “one year” side by side with you and would be there for your life, we named our brand as “andu amet.”
We created the logo designed with the motif of Ethiopian sheep, given the inspiration from the Ethiopian word. The sheep that we wanted to depict as a logo was not a lovely one, but was more of a mature one that suggests exotic atmosphere.
The luster and the grace of the Ethiopian sheep skin will heightened as much as you use the bags. You can enjoy an andu amet bag, which is hand made by experienced artisans with passion, longer by taking care of it carefully.)
The untold story behind the birth of the brand
When Ms. Hiroko Samejima was working for a domestic cosmetic company in Japan as a designer, she started to question the culture of mass production and consumption that the manufacturing world promotes, and to feel the limit to continue working in the industry. In the fashion and the beauty industries, even if one produces an astonishing work, the products from the past seasons become unwanted as new works are continuously produced every season. Given such a circumstance, she got caught up with thinking that “I might be making just beautiful trash.”
“I want to create something truly valuable that is treasured by the consumers for a long time … but what is ‘something truly valuable’?” She kept asking herself, struggling to figure out the answer when she first visited Africa as a volunteer.
In Africa, she established projects for fashion shows and fair trade while being perplexed by severe poverty that she could not stand staring at. It was during that time that she stumbled on a great potential. What she encountered were quality Ethiopian sheep skin that was exported as a raw material, and the local artisans who exert themselves with passion in their work amidst of poverty. Ms. Samejima who finally found the answer that she had been looking for for a long time since she left Japan 5 years ago decided to leave Africa once.
Upon her arrival in Japan, she started her new career in marketing at a world-renowned top luxury brand to learn brand business. At the company, she learned the root causes of the brand being the world-renowned top brand through experiencing its perspective of the world, its philosophy, and its sheer persistence in manufacturing process. Through such experiences, she determined to establish her own brand that is loved by many people and to nurture the perspective of the world, the philosophy, and the quality without any of these being lacked so that the products would be enjoyed for a long period of time by the consumers. While she worked for the company till midnight during the weekday and worked for other organizations such as an ethical jewelry brand and an African NGO as a Pro Bono*1 during the weekend, she established the concept of her brand that is unseen in the past. At the end, “andu amet” was born based on the concept, which is “the brand that provides the luxurious experiences while being ethical.”
*1: Pro Bono: volunteering activities in which professionals from respective field contribute their knowledge, skills, and professional experiences. At andu amet, we have about 20 professionals working as Pro Bono now.