How we started Altari

How we started Altari


We started working on Altari as a side-project at the end of 2016. 

The early concept differed from how we ended up developing Altari in many ways. It all started with a Christmas present I made to Elvira, an elegant clutch bag. Soon after that, Elvira, who has an innate aptitude for working on garments, fired up her entrepreneurial spirit and pitched the idea to start our own brand. While the idea sounded fun, we both felt there was something missing; how many handbag brands of all forms, shapes and sizes are out there? Why should our project be any different? Why should someone fall in love with Altari bag? These were some of the doubts on our mind.

A couple of weeks later, in the middle of a frigid Russian winter, Elvira and I visited her hometown of Bugulma, in Tatarstan. When discussing the embryonic concept of Altari, Elvira’s mother, an experienced tailor herself, said: “why not make these handbags in our traditional Tatar mosaics?" That’s the moment Altari was born.

Incidentally, that question not only led to an idea that would bring our handbags a distinctive character, it also allowed us to understand the missing piece of the puzzle. To be truly special and meaningful, our handbags would need more than exquisite craftsmanship, attention to detail and the finest materials - they would need a visible purpose. While we wanted to express a distinctive design vision, we wanted this to be linked to more profound meaning - re-iterating on existing shapes and designs was not enough for us. 

Our distinctive characteristic and purpose are entirely aligned - creating fine and distinguished products is intrinsically linked with our mission to bring back ancient forms of craftsmanship

To realise this vision, we worked for over two years iterating on our designs while also working hard to develop our relationships with master artisans. The production process of each Altari handbag is more complex than most other bags; they cross borders, require weeks of work from several artisans 4000 kilometers apart, all this passing through London, our headquarters. The complexity of these relationships, and the level of quality we wanted to achieve, made it particularly challenging to establish Altari.

Elvira Ganieva Altari founder

In the picture above, our co-founder Elvira is working on our very first prototype back in August 2017.

Since early 2017 we have gone through several rounds of prototypes, countless tests of leathers and threads, tens of colour schemes, leather mosaic designs, brass and gold accessories and established bespoke tools and processes to ensure the quality of our products along a complex value chain. Making our products outstanding was only part of the work - over the past two years we worked with several designers, technicians, copywriters, video makers, photographers, illustrators, storytellers and industry experts to establish our identity, produce content and create a ways to reach and engage with a truly global audience of like-minded people - our customers.

This enriching journey has led to our June debut collection of 200 limited edition handbags - or as we see them - art pieces. We are very excited to bring to market something truly special: beautiful accessories whose distinctive characteristic and purpose are completely aligned, a new generation of luxury.