NEFER, a brand that is less than a year old after it's official launch, is carving an exclusive niche in the fashion accessory segment in Pakistan. The savvy brand is evolving at a steady pace, no rush and that makes it  even more special.

Every NEFER bag has a story. Each material is handpicked, skillfully crafted in the workshops and Nefer, the designer, herself adds finishing touches making each piece exclusive. The brand focuses on limited edition series rather than mass production, further increasing the value of the bags.

I had a little coffee meetup with the talented Nefer Sehgal, the woman behind the eponymous brand NEFER to find out the real deal about leather, her bags and her passion.

Q1: You are a photographer first so how did bags come into the picture?

Yes.  I did start as a photojournalist initially. I still do photography, but, very selective. In between I took a break from photogrphy and did various different courses abroad to find my path. One of those course was about the journey of art into fashion whch sort of kickstarted all that NEFER is today. Everything is integrated, it all made sense and I didn't want to be just a photographer anymore. Fashion seemed to come my way naturally.

Q.2: Why do you only work with leather as the main source of material?

Leather has been one of the main sources of handbags for decades. It's overall shine, effect and quality stand out drastically against PU leather. Another great thing about leather is that unlike PU it is not loaded with chemicals.

Q.3: How many kinds of leather do you work with and what's the difference in terms of quality and why?

I use Cow leather, Sheep leather and sometimes Buffalo. Sheep and Buffalo has a softness to it, however, sheep will not wrinkle as much as buffalo will. Cow leather is hard and good for making my own patterns on. I primarily use Sheep and Cow depending on the designs. However, I make samples in PU leather but those are not for sale.

In terms of value, Cow is cheaper than sheep due to its easy availability and better, tougher surface to work on for embossing and pattern making. Sheep is softer in texture with limited availability, peak season being Eid ul Azha. I would still not consider any of them to be superior to each other, it's more dependant on availability.

I wish I could work more with suede. Sadly, it is high maintainence which women here dont realize and that leads to a lot of complications. I avoid working with that material now though I wish I can again.

Q.4: What do women need to know when buying leather because apparently many may not know how to spot good leather from bad?

First, leather wrinkles, it is supposed to so keep that in mind when buying leather bags. 

Second, you should test if you are buying an original leather bag. A lighter test will tell you instantly if you bag is fake on not. Leather will resist a lighter burn for some time. 

Third. good leather will not discolor your clothes.

Q.5: What makes a NEFER bag stand out from all the rest?

It's exclusive, it makes a statement in an elegant way. All this is possible because the bags are all handcrafted by skillful workers as well as by myself. I don't own a factory so I go to the tannery every day to get the leather. I even train my workers how to make every bag which I design from scratch myself. We work as a team to produce the NEFER bags where every piece is unique in its own way and limited edition. 

Q.6: How does the design inspiration process from start to finish work?
Anything can inspire me. My inspiration is all around me, from the women who walk in confidence, to the music video I see to guide me with a good color idea. The thoughts and ideas are always in motion.

Q.7: Future plans and dreams that will become reality?

An international fashion show. Right now that is a dream but I am hoping to get that far! I don't want to just restrict myself to bags.

Top 5 NEFER bags to date:
The Annie
The Babrus (Steampunk)
The Me Bag
The Elena
The Rubya

Other than making remarkable bags that instantly trend she also dwells in handcrafted unique jewelry and leather jackets. I won't be surprised if she comes up with another fashion accessory surprise for us in the future. Stay tuned for an insight on the bags and their story in a future blog.