eHaberdasher, great effort. Keep us informed.
I have zero ideas about design; I'm 'just' a buyer.
But I would reiterate Charlie's opinion that I would, as a buyer, prefer to buy something that is 'original' and 'native' rather than an imitation of other cultures. Whether that's design, or leather or something else is up to your friend.
How native you want to go with your product range go would depend on your target market. For example, here in India, there are...