How does it feel that you’re still using that?
I think it’s just a nice feeling. I inherited it, it’s practical and I can use it every day. And it hasn’t really changed - an attaché case still has to hold the same sorts of things that it did 85 years ago. So it makes me feel good. It’s also a statement - having nice accessories is noticed by other people. If I walk into a meeting with that case, people look at it - and in fact I’ve made a number of sales off the back of it. I’ll meet with a company’s directors, and they’re not looking at me, they’re looking at the case and often end up ordering one.
You touched on sustainability and longevity - what else is it about the way that you produce that supports a slower pace of consumption and a more sustainable method of consumerism?
Well in fact, we’ve just done a big sustainability document for the Prince of Wales. If you have a Royal Warrant, you’ve had to not only supply the Prince of Wales, but you also have to complete a massive amount of sustainability auditing. Making leathergoods actually uses very little machinery and therefore little electricity. In the beginning, when you cut the pieces of leather out you use a press and that cuts it out, and then 85% of the work, until it goes to the stitching, can only be done by hand. It creates jobs with skills for people that have a feel-good factor. A lot of our team in the factory, they love what they do because it has meaning. When they come down to London and see what they’ve done being sold in Harrods or Fortnum & Mason, it makes them very proud and that’s a good thing. Yes, leather is a by-product of meat - but whilst people are still consuming meat, it seems a pity to waste the leather that comes with it.
Are you able to source your hides from livestock that are being used for other things?
Our hides only come from European livestock that are being used for other purposes already. We do not source leathers from deforested areas.We’re very strict on where all our ingredients come from.
The Capra collection has been a big success story for you recently. Tell me a bit more about that story and how that range came about.
In the Forties and Fifties, my father and grandfather sourced from a beautiful tannery in the south-west of France, in the hills near Carcassonne. The area had a lot of goats that were being used for meat, so we bought a lot from them back then. About seven or eight years ago I was down there as we have a family house in the area. I went into the small town and noticed that this factory was still there. So I knocked on the door, and the same family was there - the sons of the people my father and grandfather dealt with. They welcomed us with open arms and the rest is history. We selected the type of leather and grain and the colours and off we went. Goat leather is very hard-wearing and it’s lovely to work with. It’s got a slight grain on it so it doesn’t scratch easily. It’s slightly waterproof as it comes from an animal that’s very used to fending off inclement weather.
Any kind of particular favourite pieces or additions from the range?
Well we’ve introduced a new, oblong valet tray that’s useful for putting a watch in, or necklaces and jewellery. We’ve also improved our cufflink and stud boxes - we’ve just upgraded them and we’re now lining them in a beautiful suede. We’re upgrading and improving all the time - looking at a product and asking how can we make it better. Often it’s just a tweak here or there, but it really makes a difference.