Made With Love: Inside Studio Vrahimis
Written by: Violet Myers
The textile industry was once the centre of Britain’s industrial expansion, with fabrics made in British factories being exported all over the world during the Victorian period. Now, as the industry is monopolised with cheaper workforces abroad, the UK has swapped silks, lace and cotton as its greatest exports for boy bands, royal babies and teenage wizardry. With consumers largely favouring two-for-a-tenner over home made goods, is there any future in high end British manufacturing?
Studio Vrahamis is a high end leather and handbag studio based just off Holloway Road. They offer prototyping, production, consulting and leather courses for budding and more established designers. They produce footwear and interiors, but are mainly known for their beautifully hand crafted bags. They employ a small skilled workforce of ten and usually recruit through the leather courses they run.
Explains Roosa, who heads up the education programme at the studio. She introduces me to Holly, who looks up from painstakingly adding details to a glorious handbag, it’s perfectly formed, beautifully crafted and probably worth more than my first car. Helena goes on to explain;
“I was doing my final collection when I came here. I ended up learning and working with the studio and doing the courses and that turned into an internship and now I’m freelancing.”
It’s not just Helena who’s benefiting from this nurturing, creative environment. Roosa explains they have an ever growing list of freelancers, who have each been trained in the traditional ways of leatherwork by the studio.
“We still do everything in very traditional ways. Obviously we use machinery but we do a lot of the finishing touches, like etch dying the corners completely manually, so it’s a very traditional way to work.”
What also sets this small London studio apart is their emphasis on not setting minimum orders – a common manufacturing rule that can leave designers with hundreds of unsold units. Instead Studio Vrahamis focuses on creating exceptionally high quality items in very small numbers, allowing designers to have a uniquely collaborative process with the people making their designs. This means that the small factory can be filled with some very interesting prototypes, a quick scan through some of the past creations reveal a host of eclectic interiors and accessories.
“That’s what fun about this place, no project is the same as the previous one. They’re all very unique and you do meet a lot of interesting people” adds Clara, who studied at the London College of Fashion before coming to work at the studio, where she is the Floor Manager.
“It’s an absolutely amazing feeling seeing something go from a design to a finished product. I’ve been to a few catwalks where I’ve made the accessories and you get this euphoria of running around finishing something and the next minute you just see it on the catwalk and it looks fantastic. It’s really rewarding.”
But what is the future for these small local studios? Do they stand any chance against Britain’s bargain trends? Do designers value the skill, artistry and handwork that goes into making their products?
“Instead people are looking to pay a little bit more for something produced closer to home, where they can actually see the process and I know a lot of designers really appreciate that.”
The studio has been open since 1990 and is currently expanding, investing in new teaching spaces and taking on a lot more production. They have experienced a steady growth period for the last few years and the future looks bright for them. Leatherwork may not be set to overtake Hogwarts on Britain’s exports list, but this nurturing quality studio is definitely keeping it’s traditions alive.
Photos by Sofia Okkonen.
Got a supper club, guinea pig cafe, unicorn tears cocktail pop up? Stoke Newington wants it. Luckily a cafe close to Columbia Road has the space you’ve been looking for all along. Probably. Think exposed bricks, boutique lighting and tiled counters, like you’ve just stumbled off a long haul flight and ended up in a trendy Brooklyn coffee house.
“I’m on the veg… of reeeeason” Sang Lady Gaga, whilst cavorting around a staircase in shorts. The very same can be said of Kerb Street Food’s latest event organisers. The amount of quality vegetarian food stalls they’ve gathered together for us is teetering on the unreasonable. It’s not fair on our stomachs, nor on our eyes that are bigger than said stomachs.
What’s it really like to live in North London gem Stroud Green? This short film gives you a glimpse into local life. See if you can spot yourself on Stroud Green's streets; walking your dog, buying bananas from the fruit and veg shop, cheering to a bad joke over a pint outside The Worlds End...
Ever walked past Stokey Town Hall and thought, oh the things I’d do with that space. What would you do exactly, if you had the chance to take over? It’s a question we’ve often asked ourselves. Well now Hackney Council are finally asking us. Residents and business owners in the surrounding areas are being consulted on their draft proposals.
Sadiq Khan’s decision to change London underground announcements from ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ to gender neutral greetings might have seemed like an obvious, positive step in the right direction. Unfortunately the news was met with some resistance and negativity. Some saw it as an attack against gender, deeming it ‘pathetic’, unnecessary and even ‘demeaning’. Presumably that affectionate term, Snowflake was also bandied around for good measure.
I'd had a bad day, so I thought reading the Slimming World magazine while eating a family-sized bag of crisps would help. This was the day I realised London was ridiculous. And it had rubbed off on me. I started out the day wet. Wet in my cute summer dress with a raincoat on top. It was July, pissing it down. But hot, very hot.
Beyond The Binary is our mini series breaking down gender norms and exploring queer theory through events and interviews. We're kicking things off with an explosion of fashion, identity and expression. This September it’s London Queer Fashion Show. LQFS showcases the greatest new talent from people who know that ‘gender exists beyond the binary’, that clothing doesn't take male or female forms.
Did you know, the recipe is a relatively new invention? Back in the 80s, a soon-to-be infamous supermodel (sorry but it was blats Naomi Campbell) walked into a bar feeling sleepy and sober and in need of a pick me up. Asking notorious and rakish bartender, Dick Bradsell for something that would “wake me up and fuck me up”, she watched him crack his fingers and deftly shake up the tasty Espressotini we all know and regret ordering today when we look at our bank statements the next morning.
This family run restaurant has been sourcing the best of date night seafood the for the last twenty years, sourcing the finest and freshest fish from their very own fishmongers in Stoke Newington. But not only are they super sustainable, these guys are also super on trend with a signature lobster sub. So you can feel posh and down to earth all at once, stroke your beard then passionately get off with an avocado once you’ve finished cycling home on your fixie.
Have you ever sat in the pub with ol Vick and Charlie and whatsherchops and thought, I’d love to draw a nude right now? No? Well what about a neon nude? Yeeah, now you’re keen! Well luckily that tasty Duke of Wellington pub happens to have just the right set up for a life drawing class. Not to mention a fluorescent one. So that is exactly what they do now. Every other Monday Jylle leaves her superb gin and tonic pouring duties to host Neon Naked.
The last time I checked it was March 18th and I was watching someone drink green beer in a big hat and wondering whatever happened to Boxing Day. But someone has informed me that it is August and we need some kind of plan for the month because all logic has flown out the window and nobody knows what anything means anymore and I can’t remember if I had breakfast yesterday no but thanks for asking. Time for some live music to zone out to and tap along blankly while we gather our thoughts.
Haunting melodies, rich ambience and devilish lyrics: indie folk singer Hazel Iris comes to Stokey all the way from California. Joining her is musician Mally Harpaz on accordion, cello, guitar and even percussion to create a pretty special double bill of musical awesomeness together.
I’m Emmie, I'm 24 and from Newcastle. J'adore le foot. Ou est les piscine? I moved to London 6 months ago because 'it's where all the jobs are'. The above new-life-motto was a graffiti tag I saw in my first few days of London life. Capital R and all. I certainly followed through when, that night, I went to a gig and nipped to the loo... Sitting on the uncomfortably warm seat I looked up to see a club night poster advertising: '4 Jägerbombs for £20!'
Who’s Richard Hunt and what are exciting little gimlets when they’re at home? Take a walk down Stoke Newington High Street this month and you’ll find out. An intriguing new cocktail bar and teahouse has opened, calling itself The Mint Gun Club and offering up a three fold menu of teas, cocktails and pantry style food.
If only there was a club night that could tap into that special pre night out time. Or at least play your taste in music, sometimes on repeat. Imagine! Lucky for you musical homebirds, bi-monthly club night Mammory Tapes intent to do just that at VFD in Stokey. All night long you can expect an all girl playlist and the best of your bedroom beats on the dance floor. So get ready to finally showcase your once unseen pyjama/half ready outfit based choreography.
“He said, I know It’s only arctic roll but I like it like it yes I dooooo” Those are the lyrics right? Well this weekend they certainly are, at Kerb’s Guiltiest Pleasure in Kings Cross featuring an arctic roll of pure indulgence. Over Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd July, the street food collective from your wildest dreams are hosting the most indulgent hits from all their pop ups at Granary Square.