By Joely Chilcott
While many fashion brands outsource design and manufacturing processes around the globe, there are homegrown leather workshops that are passionate about their craft.
From royal-approved accessories to school-inspired style, we put three British brands centre stage for their commitment to the fashion leather industry.
The Cambridge Satchel Company
A truly charming brand that was set up in 2008 by Julie Deane and her mum Freda, whose original HQ was their Cambridge kitchen table. The company is committed to leather craftsmanship. Its DNA lies in the traditional school satchel, reviving the boxy shape and classic buckles in a variety of colours and patterns made by highly-skilled artisans in British workshops. The mother/daughter team are passionate about leather. As a by-product of the food industry, they affectionately call their craft “upcycling with style” and celebrate the softening of the material to make each bag unique to the wearer. The majority of the bags they make are structured in design, cleverly combining traditional looks with contemporary finishes. They have collaborated with luxury designer Vivienne Westwood, cutting-edge fashion label Comme des Garçons and even made a satchel for Paddington Bear. Promoting slow fashion, they want their bags to last and so offer every customer use of a Satchel Spa, a lifetime repairs service on all products. Buy from The Cambridge Satchel Company and you are guaranteed a bag for life.
CAMBRIDGE SMALL TRAVELLER
Aspinal of London
If you’re looking to bag an accessory loved by royalty, then Aspinal of London is the brand for you. Quintessentially British in its outlook and aesthetic, its bags have been seen on the arms of the Duchess of Cambridge, Zara Tindall and the Duchess of Cornwall. Established in 2001 by Iain Burton who supplied audio-guides to some of the world’s top museums, Aspinal began by providing bespoke leather accessories and stationery to museum gift shops. Thanks to the exceptional quality of the pieces, it quickly became a family-run lifestyle brand. Each piece is designed to be passed down through generations as the jewel-toned leather bags, wallets and notebooks never go out of style. With headquarters set in The National Park of West Sussex Downs, Aspinal’s focus on sustainable practices is paramount. As well as reducing the plastic and carbon emissions in its supply chain, it prides itself on using leather and suedes produced by the most environmentally conscious methods, including meat-free tanning. Whether you opt for a crossbody or tote, a journal or a jewellery box, Aspinal of London is a quality purchase.
ASPINAL CROC JOURNAL
ASPINAL MICRO LOTTIE
Described as “rock and roll saddlery”, the leather products at Osprey London are made from the inside out with zips, clasps and pockets just as important as the overall look. Graeme Ellisdon, the founder and CEO, takes a hands-on approach to the business that he set up in 1980 with just £500 of his own money, launching with a hand stitched leather belt. Ambitious expansion has followed since, taking Osprey into the leather accessories market and more recently becoming a fully fledged lifestyle brand with cashmere and homes sections. Ellisdon’s love of leather derived from his father, who was a carpenter. “I have always loved working with leather because it’s a natural material with real integrity that improves with age”, he says. “Leather and wood require work and craftsmanship to transform them from something raw into something beautiful that lives on.” Modern touches including straps, handles and other detailing in bright colours make Osprey a fun and more affordable choice for leather goods.