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ISTANBUL, Turkey — In the middle of Beyoğlu, the old Greek and Macedonian quarter, the sound of hammer on hide echoes down a cobbled street. Two cats lead the way to a leather goods atelier on the third floor of the sturdy, ornate, 18th-century building that is the home of one of fashion’s buzziest contemporary accessories labels, Manu Atelier.

The leather heritage of the Beyoğlu district dates back to the city’s Ottoman era, when its Sultans ruled swathes of central Europe and Anatolia from Istanbul, one of the world’s most sophisticated capitals. But since Eva Chen, the former editor of Lucky Magazine turned Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships, posted a trademark accessories shot of Manu Atelier’s Pristine bag in June 2014, Turkish leather couldn’t feel more contemporary.

Founded in Febuary 2014 by Merve and Beste Manastir, daughters of a leather craftsman, the one-and-a-half-year-old brand has retail sales of $800,000 and a revenue of just below $400,000 [factoring wholesale pricing]. “We grew 500 percent year-on-year from 2014,” says Merve, 24, the younger of the photogenic sisters. In 2015 the brand has produced 5,000 bags, predominately priced at around $500.

One of three posts by Eva Chen | Source: Intsagram

One of three posts by Eva Chen | Source: Instagram

“Everything accelerated when Eva posted it,” adds 29 year-old Beste. “It was crazy. Chinese [along with Turkish] consumers literally bought all of our stock from Vakko.” Such was the demand that Vakko, one of Turkey’s prestigious department stores and the brand’s only bricks and mortar stockist at the time, restricted consumers to buying a maximum of three items per month.

“Retailers started to email,” says Beste, so the brand brought on Luisa De Paula to become its global sales agent; she was a London-based buyer and merchandiser with 20 years of experience, who cut her teeth at Selfridges for a decade, before taking roles at Liberty and Mywardrobe.com, and consulting for brands such as Ebay, Mary Katrantzou and Jonathan Saunders. At the time she was working for Boticca, an e-commerce business whose USP was connecting consumers with brands from off the beaten track, which was acquired by Wolf Badger on 31st of July 2015. “I knew there was something special the minute they sent me the [Pristine] bag. I was so impressed with the quality. Then I met them and I thought that they are marketable in themselves. Over dinner I asked if they were interested in me representing them to launch Manu Atelier as a global brand,” says De Paula, “We were thinking the same thing,” chime in the sisters.

“We needed to figure out the wholesale price — factor in marketing, shipping and distribution costs. Along with that it was late in the buying season,” De Paula explains.

“We were not planning to show the collection to retailers that season, but [changed our minds] having spoken with our father who advised us on production and my husband, who works for PWC, who is our unofficial risk manager and advised us on finance,” continues Beste.

When they started, Merve had limited prior experience of working in fashion: “While I was studying business administration I worked assisting two Turkish fashion designers, Ezra Tuba, and also worked for Vogue Turkey, because I wanted to see the press side of it. Beste was working in the United States Trade programme, but we began to work with our father and designers as leather consultants, using our father’s experience and gaining our own,” says Merve.

Merve (L), Beste (C) and Adnam Manastir in Atelier Manu | Source: Courtesy

Merve (L), Beste (C) and Adnan Manastir in Atelier Manu | Source: Courtesy

The sisters researched the Turkish market and its leather accessories. “We felt that consumers were more and more willing to buy affordable luxury brands, because the international brands were everywhere and on everyone, but they cost $4,000 rather than $400. And, if it was changing in Turkey, it had probably already started changing internationally, as brands took longer to enter this market,” she continues.

“Technology made the barriers to entry easier, and we were lucky that we had such a big asset in our father. He is a true artisan. While he is watching TV he can draw 10 different styles on his cigarette packet.” To this day the brand has just four permanent craftsman, including both their uncle, Şeref Manastir, and their father Adnan, working from three basic rooms with exposed floorboards, two family photographs and one poster from the 1980s for decoration.

With a budget of 30,000 Turkish lira (about $10,300), they worked on the brand for 18 months before launching with eight styles, three of which were repurposed from their father’s back catalogue and modified for the market, including the Pristine.

“I put one of the photos on Instagram. One of my primary school friends who had started to work at Vakko as a senior buyer saw it,” says Merve. Unusually for a Turkish brand, Vakko bought the line outright, rather than take it on a consignment basis. “They placed an order for 400 units, no test, nothing, which sold out in two weeks. When they came to repeat the order, they said they wanted it for all 24 locations in Turkey,” says Merve. By April 2014, Vakko’s order had gone from 400 to over a thousand units. Today the line maintains an 88 percent sell-through rate at the store.

Then Eva Chen happened. “She posted the bag three times, the last time she described the bag and said it was one of her favourite brands, along with Mansur Gavriel. After that, there was a huge demand from Beijing and Shanghai, we had over 400 emails. To this day we receive 150 emails from China a week, and many of them are buyers, who want to come to our showroom. Boutique One was the first major retailer that expressed interest in us, and we are still in talks with them actually” explains Merve.

Manu Atelier's Mini-Fernweh bags | Source: Courtesy

Manu Atelier’s Mini-Fernweh bags | Source: Courtesy

“We weren’t quite ready. But is there ever a perfect time to start to really go global?” adds de Paula. But in two months they pulled together a collection to show buyers in Paris.

“We didn’t want to miss the demand. There was momentum. If you miss that wave, next season it can go in another direction,” says Merve. “We had to decide whether to enter the wholesale market, or not. We needed our father’s opinion on how we are going to manage production part, because, as an affordable brand, we want to keep the profits lower for each bag, but to make money from the wholesale business through volume. He found the eight craftsman that we can employ if a number of big orders come in. We are so lucky that he has been over 50 years in the sector.”

“We did a lot of research and benchmarked the brand with See by Chloe, Mansur Gavirel, Sophia Hume, Marc by Marc, Philip Lim and Alexander Wang,” adds de Paula.

In September 2015, about a month before arriving in Paris for the showroom, Eleanor Robinson, head of accessories at Selfridges asked to launch the bag exclusively in London in December, and make the sisters part of their annual Bright Young Things campaign. In addition, the sisters secured central European e-commerce store Stylebop as a stockist, along with three lesser known international concept stores across the UK and Australia, and Harrods for Autumn/Winter 2016.

“Selfridges is the biggest order we have had yet in importance. When we launch we want to be a sell-out,” adds Merve.

Most recently the Pristine has appeared on the arm of Gigi Hadid’s model sister, and the sisters and their agent now seek to parley the currency of Manu Atelier’s burgeoning profile into an established wholesale business.

Disclosure: The Business of Fashion travelled to Istanbul as a guest of Manu Atelier.

Editors Note: This article was revised on 26th November 2015. A previous version of this article stated that Boticca had folded. This is incorrect, it was in fact acquired by Wolf Badger on 31st July 2015.

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Any analysis of Montero’s look must take in her almond eyes, her cheekbones that are almost a parody of perfect cheekbones, her café con leche complexion, her willowy proportions, and yes, that hair. She is beautiful, sure – but more significantly she’s look-again interesting, and in command of an ethnic ambiguity that plays well in a globalised market of luxury clients. Women in London, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Shanghai and beyond can look at Montero and relate to her, imagining themselves in that coat, that dress, those shoes.

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Back in May, an Iranian Facebook page called My Stealthy Freedom started posting photos of young Muslim women sporting shaven heads and masculine clothing. This was the latest manifestation of women fighting back against the country’s mandatory dress code, which requires that women must cover their hair in public. Now actual men are joining their feminist crusade by posting selfies in the hijab. Recently the same Facebook page posted a series of these veiled male allies standing next to their female friends and wives in an important show of solidarity.

“I think that one should not talk about freedom if she/he supports the idea of restricting other people’s freedom,” one man wrote alongside a selfie he took with two unveiled women. “This new campaign launched by men to don the veil might appear to be insignificant to certain people,” he continued, before emphasizing that it helps to further discussions about women’s rights and gendered dress codes. “It is useful because it highlights women’s rights — that we should not treat women as objects. Just like many educated women in the world, Iranian women should live in full enjoyment of their rights and they should be the ones determining what to wear. The fact that they are being forced to wear something against their own will actually tarnishes the image of Iranian men worldwide. That is why this new campaign can both raise awareness about the plight of Iranian women and also show the real face of Iranian women and men. Hoping for a free, prosperous, and educated Iran.” 


Another young man appeared next to his wife while wearing a red hijab. “Compulsion is not a good feeling,” he wrote. “I hate when they used morality police in order to force my wife to wear compulsory hijab. There are a lot of men in Iran who have respect for women’s freedom of choice, so those conservatives who called men pimp just because they are not happy with our wives’ ‘bad hijab,’ are not representative of Iranian men at all.”

Some people have deemed the movement frivolous, which only strengthens the case for #MenInHijab. If we laugh at guys covering their heads in public, why force women to do so? Not that the hijab is inherently humorous — those pushing back against Iran’s gendered dress codes aren’t taking aim at women who choose to wear it, only arguing that it shouldn’t be mandatory. And in a time where women are literally being arrested for posting photos on social media without their hair covered — just two months ago, the Iranian government locked up eight Instagram models for “promiscuity” — the men’s own selfies are making a very relevant statement. 

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Yes, Hillary Clinton’s historic acceptance of the Democratic nomination was exciting and all, but, guys, there were also balloons. And after Hillary Clinton made her triumphant speech, Bill joined her onstage, and they waited for the balloons to drop. As the latex orbs drifted gently from the sky, Bill and Hillary looked up, ecstasy on their faces and joy in their hearts.

They pointed.

They smiled.

They had much more fun than Tim Kaine.

Bill, in particular, went after the balloons with gusto.

And then there were the pyrotechnics. 

Think you can take Bill Clinton’s balloon? Not today, little girl. Not today.

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Les Iraniennes sont soumises à une législation stricte sur le port du hijab, qui les fait encourir jusqu’à la prison en cas de voile « non conforme ». Pour contester cette législation trop stricte, la journaliste iranienne Masih Alinejad – actuellement exilée au Royaume-Uni –, a fondé My Stealthy Freedom, un mouvement pour permettre aux Iraniennes d’avoir le choix quant au voile. C’est pour soutenir cette organisation qu’est apparu le hashtag #meninhijab, à l’appel de Masih Alinejad qui a invité les hommes à rejoindre cette cause.

Renverser la hiérarchie

L’initiative est un appel à plus de liberté pour les femmes, porté d’une seule et même voix par les contestataires du #meninhijab et du mouvement The Stealthy Freedom.

Dans ce mouvement de solidarité, les Iraniens veulent passer un message au gouvernement : les femmes étouffent littéralement sous leurs voiles. Ainsi, s’emparant des réseaux sociaux, ils se prennent en photo portant le hijab pour renverser la hiérarchie hommes-femmes établie dans la société, la même insidieusement inculquée aux garçons à travers les directives religieuses ou gouvernementales, comme l’explique Masih Alinejad.

Cette dernière dénonce la radicalisation du gouvernement iranien qui va jusqu’à mettre des affiches de « prévention » dans les villes, visant directement les femmes pour leur imposer le port du hijab comme le précise The Independent ; ou encore qui instaure des rondes de policiers en civil chargés de vérifier que les Iraniennes dans les rues aient un hijab conforme à la législation, quelle que soit la température extérieure, et de les sanctionner d’une amende ou d’une arrestation dans le cas contraire.

Dans ce contexte, l’initiative portée par les contestataires de #meninhijab et du mouvement My Stealthy Freedom est un appel osé à plus de liberté pour les femmes. Le hashtag, lancé le 22 juillet, reste d’une modeste ampleur mais sait se faire entendre : on retrouve l’initiative relayée dans des journaux tels que le britannique The Independent, donc, mais aussi le canadien Global News qui revient, grâce à des témoignages, sur les motivations des hommes qui rejoignent le mouvement, qui ne semble pas prêt de s’essouffler.

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent :

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : le hijab ne doit absolument pas dévoiler les cheveux pour les femmes.

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : le hijab ne doit absolument pas dévoiler les cheveux pour les femmes.
Iran : #meninhijab, quand les hommes portent le hijab par solidarité – photo 1
Photo Facebook My Stealthy Freedom

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : le hashtag est un message engagé face au gouvernement iranien

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : le hashtag est un message engagé face au gouvernement iranien
Iran : #meninhijab, quand les hommes portent le hijab par solidarité – photo 2
Photo Facebook My Stealthy Freedom

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : une histoire de couple pour certains

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : une histoire de couple pour certains
Iran : #meninhijab, quand les hommes portent le hijab par solidarité – photo 3
Photo Facebook My Stealthy Freedom

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : la solidarité passe par la complicité

#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : la solidarité passe par la complicité
Iran : #meninhijab, quand les hommes portent le hijab par solidarité – photo 4
Photo Facebook My Stealthy Freedom
#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : le hijab, ce voile qui empêche beaucoup d’Iraniennes de se sentir libres
#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : le mouvement est porté d’une voix par hommes et femmes
#meninhijab, les hommes se mobilisent contre le hijab : une femme tombe le voile quand son mari le porte

La rédaction vous conseille :

Une femme voilée dans la dernière campagne HM
“Porter le hijab par solidarité dessert la cause des femmes”
Mode musulmane : un marché estimé à près de 500 milliards de dollars

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L’ancien président béninois Émile Zinsou (qui n’est resté qu’un an au pouvoir de 1968 à 1969, renversé par un putsch), et oncle de Lionel Zinsou, s’est éteint jeudi dans sa résidence à Cotonou.

L’ancien président de la République du Dahomey (actuel Bénin) de 1968 à 1969, Emile Derlin Zinsou, est décédé jeudi à l’âge de 98 ans. Il a tiré sa révérence ce 28 juillet 2016 à sa résidence à Cotonou, précise le site Visages-du-Bénin.com.

Emile Derlin Zinsou était l’oncle de Lionel Zinsou, Premier ministre de juin 2015 à avril 2016, et candidat malheureux à la présidentielle face à Patrice Talon, l’actuel président béninois. “Nous sommes tous en deuil, l’ancien président Emile a rendu l’âme la nuit dernière après 23 heures à son domicile”, a confié à l’AFP Gratien Ahouanmenou.

Règne éclair

Ancien élève de l’École normale William Ponty (Sénégal), diplômé de la faculté de médecine de Dakar, il entre en politique dès l’indépendance de la République du Dahomey. Le régime militaire qui a pris le pouvoir en 1967 le propulse à la présidence le 17 juillet 1968. Il sera renversé en décembre 1969 à la suite d’un putsch. Il a été un farouche opposant au régime marxiste-léniniste du général Mathieu Kérekou, qui a dirigé le pays de 1972 à 1991 puis de 1996 à 2006. Il a toujours été suspecté dans une tentative de coup d’état menée par un groupe de mercenaires dirigé par le sulfureux Bob Denard en 1977.

Il s’est d’ailleurs longtemps exilé, ne revenant qu’à l’occasion de la conférence nationale de décembre 1990 pendant laquelle il a joué un rôle important quant au retour à la démocratie. Après l’élection du général Kérekou en 1996, leurs relations se sont apaisées, puisque M. Zinsou a même été nommé conseiller spécial du président.

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