Behind the Brand: Mara&Meru™

Behind the Brand: Mara&Meru™

Story by:

C. Fraser Claire

Mara&Meru™ is our link between the outdoors, what we want to wear every day, and high street fashion.

Mara&Meru™ safari clothing, sun hats, luggage, and accessories are designed to be the perfect fit for every facet of your life – in inimitable safari style. With features for practicality you will use extensively on safari and outdoor adventures, the range holds key wardrobe items for anyone with the urge to adventure. We talked to the founder of The Safari Store, Steve Adams, about the brand, its origins, and what fans of the brand can look forward to in the future.

Mara&Meru™: Why did you choose this name for this range of clothing, luggage, and accessories and what is the origin of the name?
Steve: There is a remote park in Kenya called Meru National Park. Crossed by classic streams with dark waters and beautiful swathes of riparian forest which are flanked by harsh yet beautiful thornveld and thickets - with a palm or two dotted on the horizon - it is quite simply one of only a handful African parks which have a rare wildness and incredible history. Many have heard of the Adamsons and their lions, but few have perched on a huge boulder on top of one of Meru's kopjes breathing in the wonder of the place. Meru has always been my secret love - although I have only visited her once.

The Mara - which is the famous sibling in the name Mara&Meru™ - has, through the years, come to symbolise for many people what Africa looks like when they close their eyes and dare to dream away the city landscape and long for Africa. For those who have not yet been to the Mara, my strongest recommendation is to ignore the images of zebra-striped minivans and crowded migration crossings. Rather, immerse yourself in the legends of this place – from which Out of Africa emerged and which has welcomed some of history’s most famous writers, politicians, and adventurers - by reading Marsh Lions by Brian Jackman and Jonathan Scott. You will fall for the place in much the same way as Jackman describes the rise and fall of great prides of lions - dynasties of maned rulers of the land which would feel at home in the empires of Caesar and Alexander. Why did I choose the names Mara and Meru as our flagship brand name? I think what is written above touches on my reasoning. I also loved the fact that both not only represent a classic safari history and wildness, but also effortlessly carry their place in the safari world - and in Africa - on such short and simple names. It was a stylish simplicity which I wanted to bring into the designs for our new range and so Mara&Meru™ was born.

Canvas and leather luggage

What can someone new to the brand expect to find in the range and what gives these items their special Mara&Meru™ je ne sais quoi?
Steve: While our Rufiji™ range concentrates on great outdoor styling and hardcore technical fabrics, Mara&Meru™ is our link between the outdoors, what we want to wear every day, and high street fashion. While we do still mix in technical fabrics, they are usually with a twist. The best-selling men’s Everything Shirt and women’s Everything Shirt, as an example, are made from the same ripstop BUGTech™ fabric as used for Rufiji™ - with great performance features. The brand also pulls in the finest natural materials, handpicked for their quality and used in designs which do not require technical fabrics in order to perform. A good example of this is our women’s Serengeti V-Necked Safari T-shirts and women's long-sleeved Serengeti V-Neck T-Shirts, Serengeti Safari Jogger Pants, and Serengeti Safari Shorts, and the Men’s Savute Safari T-Shirt, Savute Safari Cargo Pants, Savute Safari Cargo Shorts, and Ultimate Safari Hoodie.

One of the founding principles of design behind Mara&Meru™ is to offer garments which go beyond safari and allow the wearer to wear a garment to a board meeting or to lunch or dinner - and yet know that hidden in the garment they wear is the technical ability to go exploring the outdoors without changing. The same applies to our Mara&Meru™ luggage. Most pieces are not only beautifully designed and use only the finest safari-grade canvas and full-grain leather, but also have a hidden functionality which reaches beyond "just" safari. The Mara&Meru™ Safari Voyager range, as an example, includes bags with hidden suit carriers and features a core bag design with zip-on end pockets which may be removed to use as a small satchel, replaced with larger satchel / backpack bags which also zip onto the core bag, or used simply as the core bag for weekend breaks, for everyday things such as going to the club or to gym, and, of course, on business trips as hand luggage.

We wanted to create products which clients long to use even after they have returned from their safaris of holidays. It is a really fun process dreaming up the products and sampling and testing them over and over again until we are happy that they have - in their own hidden kind of way - broken the mould.

Fashionable safari clothing for men and women

Are there any flagship items in the range deserving of special mention?
Steve: Definitely. My favourites are still the original designs I did. The Mara&Meru™ Voyager range is very close to my heart. I designed it as I hated the thought of our clients throwing their duffle bag into the cupboards when they returned from their safari. I wanted to create a purpose beyond safari for the bags and I think we have achieved that with the design. We have seen the core bag and the attachments on the shoulders of National Geographic Explorers on their own safaris and in their daily lives. The men’s Everything Shirts and women’s Everything Shirts are also pretty amazing cross-over products and are incredibly well-suited to 'everything' - as the name suggests - from true expeditions and explorations, to a romantic dinner or evening out. If I had to pack one shirt for any destination, it would be the Everything Shirt.

Tell us about the waterbuck logo, its origins, and how it came to represent the range.
Steve: The waterbuck logo is an artist’s impression of the waterbuck from the book Jock of the Bushveld. Anyone familiar with the story of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his dog called Jock will agree that it is at the heart of capturing early exploration in Southern Africa. It is a staple for people growing up in the region.

We were looking for a suitable logo for Mara&Meru™ and noticed that just about everyone in the safari industry went for cliched animals - elephants, giraffe, kudu, and buffalo - but very few use a waterbuck as their logo. Tania on our team was part of our search and one day said, "What about a waterbuck like the one in Jock of the Bushveld?" We have not looked back since. Waterbuck are such a special species too to see on safari and have a kind of secretive mysticism to them. We could not have chosen a better animal to represent one of our key brands and will be using it in different guises for a few new brands in the pipeline for launch in the future.

A silver necklace with a waterbuck pendant and a pair of kingfisher bird earrings

What does it mean to be wild in your veins and what is meant by the slogan?
Wild in your veins and safari in your veins I guess captures what I have said above. It does not matter where you are in the world; Africa is always happening in Africa. Lions are roaring - or sleeping - warthogs are covering themselves in the stinkiest mud they can find, hippos are looking for a fight, impala are looking nervously from side to side, and leopard are resting with their heads on floppy paws. It doesn't stop when you board the plane home. I find the thought both exciting and in a way depressing - as I want to be in Africa all the time. Claire on our team came up with "wild in your veins" as a slogan for Mara&Meru™ to capture this constant longing for Africa and wild places and to suggest that no matter where you are in the world, wild places - or the mere thought of them - keeps your heart beating a little faster and brings a smile to your face. By wearing Mara&Meru™, you are adding another reminder that you could, without changing bags or the shirt you are wearing, board a plane for Africa and go on safari straight away – or, for that matter, go exploring the back country behind your home.

You expedition test apparel sold through The Safari Store. What are the most adventurous destinations and circumstances you have found yourself in with your Mara&Meru™ items? Did any of the items perform/survive in particularly extreme conditions?
We have expedition and safari tested all items in the Mara&Meru™ range. Walking behind the Hobie on the Sail Zambezi Expedition comes to mind straight away as not only were we waist deep in waters with large reptiles lurking in the shallows, but the first version of the Mara&Meru™ Safari Voyager (known then as the Everything Bag) was on the back end of the boat where I was and it was not giving up no matter how tough it got. That same bag is still the one I use when I travel.

There are many other stories from the expeditions, but I think it is best to check out our expedition tested pages to see what I have tested and where.

What can fans of the range expect in future (unless this is a closely-guarded secret)?
We have some exciting new luggage accessories, including a luggage protector to keep your Mara&Meru™ bags looking nice and pristine for longer - and for added protection from the shot-putters and discus throwers of the travel world: the luggage handlers. We are also working a new version of the luggage protector which will add even more functionality to our range of larger duffels. A plan to make a backpack version really excites me as not only is it a great and untried idea, but it means I will need to do a walking safari expedition next to test it. I do not need to keep this secret as, until you have seen what we have designed, you won't be able to picture it.

Anything else you would like to say about Mara&Meru™?
Wear and use your Mara&Meru™ products every day.

Shop Mara&Meru™ Hats | Shop Mara&Meru™ Clothing | Shop Mara&Meru™ Luggage | Shop Mara&Meru™ Safari Jewellery | Shop Thusk Safari Knitwear

A woman wearing a hat on safari and in the city.

More Stories

View basket