Now at the top of lists of must-stops for designers and stylists when they visit Athens, Callista Crafts did not pop up overnight. For the past six years, its cofounders Eleni Konstantinidis and Celia Sigalou have been returning to the traditional methods of leatherworking in their construction of elegant and minimalist bags for the local and international market.
Surprisingly, neither founder had a background in fashion design. Konstantinidis studied economics while Sigalou had a career in civil engineering prior to their foray into design. Beginning with a range of sandals in 2013, the pair began in the depths of the Greek economic crisis. With no domestic market to sell to, the sandals were sold via resorts in the ever attractive Greek isles which continued to see international guests flock to the azure waters and their porcelain shores. When these visitors would return to their homes elsewhere in Europe, the spread the word of these handcrafted yet supremely finished leather goods from Greece.
It would be by chance, however, that Callista would swap to focusing almost entirely on bags. Holding the first samples on the way to Mykonos, Konstantinidis was approached by a friend who owned a shop on the island. Liking what she saw, the friend made an order and in the first day for sale on Mykonos, the collection almost entirely sold out.
Such interest and passion for the brand and its designs pushed Konstantinidis and Sigalou to continue. As consumer look to alternatives to fast, mass produced fashion, there has been a return to the appreciation of processes of construction at the middle end of the market. This is where Callista have a unique story to tell. After sourcing fine, Italian leather, Callista have returned to the time honoured traditions of leatherwork. Ensuring that this is a process that is fully integrated into the brand, initial manufacturing happens in Athens and then the bags are hand stitched at the headquarters of Callista.
The textural qualities that result from such a manufacturing process are foregrounded in the shape and design of the bags. Furthermore, the signature Callista strap is made out of woven leather, a seamless extension of the bag itself. Describing the design ethos, Konstantinidis spotlights the “minimal design, clean cut lines, best quality materials and meticulous craftsmanship,” that goes into each bag.
Presented in bi-yearly collections, there is an affinity between the products and the natural landscapes of Greece. Whether that is the rugged mountains, crystalline waters or dusty fields, the campaigns speak to the environment from which the materials are sourced. However, the sleek lines and elegant garments worn in each of the campaigns point towards the intended location of the products; the urban environment.
It is this marrying of the urban and the natural, modernity and tradition that one is left with after viewing the designs. To discover more of Callista, go here: https://www.callistacrafts.com.