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CAPE COBRA: From Cape Town with Love

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The story of Cape Cobra all began when an inquisitive young man from Germany embarked on a trip to Egypt. Once there, his passion and skills in leathercraft coupled with an eagerness to succeed catalyzed the establishment of one of the best leather manufacturing facilities in the Middle East. That man was Lothar Schafer. He went on to move to Lebanon, before a desire to work with the world’s finest materials and create exquisite designs led him to South Africa, where he met fellow German, Walter Schoch. Together, in 1972, they birthed ‘Cape Cobra Leathercraft’.

The brand became hugely successful, attracting the eye of the Aga Khan, the Rothschild family, and counting royalty, including Queen Elizabeth, among its loyal customers.

Today, the company’s managing director is the Schafer’s son, Robert. Keeping things in the family, he works alongside his three children, including his daughter Justine, who heads the creative team as Business Development Manager.

MetroStyle had the pleasure of meeting her and Aiofe Kelly De Klerk (Brand & Marketing Manager) at the Beijing Sparkle Roll Luxury Brands Culture Expo 2013, to find out more.

Tell us more about origin the brand…

The name “Cape Cobra Leathercraft” was chosen to highlight the origin of the product as proudly South African. The original vision was to expand a simple home based leathercraft operation into a world market leader.

And of course the Cape Cobra brand has a very interesting history…

Yes, it was founded in 1972 by the Schäfer family and Walter Schoch, another German gentleman in South Africa. Today Cape Cobra Leathercraft is internationally recognized for the capacity to fuse the art of intricate design and intimate handcraft with the science of durable leathercraft. Three generations of a German family run the business, which focuses on design and handcraft to enhance the natural beauty of exotic skins.  After breaking onto the international scene in the 1990’s, it later became Southern Africa’s largest exporter of exotic leather luxury bags and accessories. Cape Cobra Leathercraft celebrated 40 years of importing luxury and refinement for an exclusive individual.

What’s the secret to the brand’s success?

Cape Cobra Leathercraft has more than 90 employees, many of whom have been with the company since its inception and were then followed by their next generation. The masters engage their apprentices in age-old techniques of the finest leathercraft, and so the tradition lives on. As a three-generation famility run business, Cape Cobra Leathercraft has a strong appreciation for family values such as encouragement, support and empowerment. We consider ourselves to be a family unit.  

What kinds of materials are used to make your goods?

Cape Cobra crafts using only the world’s finest exotic skins to create the state-of-the-art leather product: exotic skins currently used are Nile crocodile, ostrich, python and lizard.

Cape Cobra Leathercraft obtains all exotic skins under rigid international CITES regulations (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), an international agreement between governments with the aim to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

You have a lot of celebrity fans…

Yes, we produce for top international design houses and can count Sandra Bullock, Debra Messing, Jennifer Lopez and Anne Hathaway among our celebrity fans. Recent successes for the Cape Cobra brand include the design and manufacture of a clutch for Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, Charlene Wittstock.



What’s Cape Cobra’s vision?

To position South Africa at the fore of the international leathercraft industry with its unique capacity for design, innovation and manifacture. We want to excite the world with state of the art exotic leather goods  and inspire world-class leaders with a tireless commitment to quality, among other things.

What do you consider to be your brand values?

Family, honesty, quality, innovation, sustainability, tradition, empowerment of people.

Can we buy in Beijing?

There are three shops already in Beijing. They are located in Jianwai Sohu, Chaowai Sohu and Sanlitun Sohu. To find out more, you can call 4000048908 or visit our website www.capecobra.co.za.

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