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March 30, 2016

Introducing Martine van Reesema’s hand-made leather goods

Like so many of Adelaide's best and brightest designers, Martine van Reesema was inspired by her travels to New York and Europe. But the real adventure began once she returned home.

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  • Words: Lauren Reid

Although she certainly enjoyed her time overseas, Martine knew she wanted to start her leather goods business back home in Adelaide. Her decision was underpinned by the city’s strong sense of community and its long-standing appreciation for locally-made, handcrafted products.


You can email Martine with enquiries or order –

And it also helps on a practical level to have family, friends and supportive business contacts, such as local wholesaler D.S. Horne, close at hand.

“Especially when your Mum lets you turn her kitchen into your leatherwork studio… and tolerates the mess and constant hammering without complaint,” she says.

Martine has taken design inspiration from sources as diverse as classic South Australian leather goods makers, R.M. Williams, and best friend design duo Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton (formerly of Sass and Bide).

The result is leather goods that are as practical as they are beautiful. Informed by her extensive studies in design and love for classic architecture and contemporary art, her pieces are delicate yet fundamentally utilitarian.

It’s clear that Martine knows her stuff when it comes to the finer details of leatherwork, too.

“Hand-making each piece is incredibly rewarding for me,” she says. “I really love working with my hands and I enjoy the control I get over the quality of my products. I put lots of time into selecting the skins myself and make each piece carefully, to order.”

Martine uses vegetable-tanned leather for her range of bags, passport holders and other leather goods. This means the tannins used to dye the animal hide are sourced from the bark and leaves of plants such as chestnut, oak, mangrove and wattle which creates a subtly imperfect finish to the leather.

Martine says that although she created her first bucket bag for herself, she also has a clear customer in mind for her products.

“My customer has a strong sense of personal style. My girl is sophisticated, spirited and driven,” she says. “She favours clean, sharp lines and has an eye for quality in both fabrication and construction. She likes unique, understated pieces with a story and where possible wears local designers.”

Even though we’re glad she calls Adelaide home, there’s no doubt that this combination of a refined eye for style, business know-how and strong spirit will take Martine and her designs far.

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