Remember that lovely time that we went to breakfast with the British? And remember how we met the wonderful leather goods company Ettinger? Not only were their lovely wallets and purses on display at the British Consul’s Residence, but they also kindly gave everyone a little present in their distinctive gold boxes. An elegant and generous gesture.The company, which was started in London in 1934, is one of the finest purveyors of leather goods in the world. The card carrying case that they gave us was a masterpiece. It’s incredibly practical, but distinctively stylish. The navy/pigeon grey color combination with white contrasting stitching along the sides of the case is beautiful. You get two pockets on both sides and one interior pocket, lined in golden embossed cloth. A small token of their affection, with a major style impact. Since it’s the Holiday Season with gifting opportunities through the roof, I took special note of Ettinger and took a look through their site for the my Holiday Splurge item… The Bridle Leather Collection had me drooling , but after a few hours of careful deliberation I decided on the Bridle Hide Red Notecase Purse ($300). It comes in black, havana, London tan and petrol blue. It’s one of those pieces that a woman can receive in her 20s and treasure for a lifetime. The smooth, bridle leather can me monogrammed for an additional $45. The inside is a sumptuous shade of golden yellow leather, with card pockets, a change purse with flap, three sleeve pockets and a pocket for your dollars. See that stamp? Ettinger was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales in 1996. Ettinger had been manufacturing leather goods for members of the Royal Family for many years prior to this and this special honour gives Ettinger the right to carry the Prince of Wales Cipher on all its products.
So basically, you’re that much closer to Kate Middleton style status. Mr. Robert Ettinger, who is carrying on the legacy of his father Gerard, joined the company in 1980. he became the CEO in 1990 and has been an active force in the British luxury goods world. He very kindly granted us an exclusive interview.
- Ettinger has been in business in England since 1934 and even has a Royal warrant. How does that translate to the modern day American customer of 2015? How will they relate to such a posh brand?
Discretion and quality have always been at the heart of Ettinger’s ethos since the company was founded in 1934. The fact that this was recognised with a Royal Warrant to HRH The Prince of Wales in 1996, was a very proud moment in the company’s history but we hope that today’s American customer sees it as just that, a recognition of quality and that we are considered to be one of the finest leather goods manufacturers operating in the UK today. We are not about overt branding but singular quality, we are not about being posh but about distinctive confidence.
2.What is it like making leather goods in the new millenium? Is it harder to source top quality hides? Is it hard to find artisans?
Sourcing the very finest materials for our products – whether that be leather hides from across Europe or buckles for our belts, zips for our purses or poppers for our coin purses – is an increasingly time consuming part of our manufacturing process. However, there is no room for compromise and only the best will do and if we have to reject products or suppliers on the basis of quality, we have no hesitation in doing so until we find the perfect match.
As regards our craftspeople, many have been with us for many years and some are even second generation from one family, but we are always looking to find and employ new people to train up as our business continues to expand around the world every year. Each trainee will then spend at least 5 years learning and perfecting their craft.
Nevertheless, you are right to ask whether making quality leather goods in this millennium in England is easy. The reality is, for various reasons, it has become much harder to get the same top-quality leather as 30 or 50 years ago. Also, motivating the young to work in a 125-year-old factory and train up to our craftsmanship standards is not the easiest task. Yet with dedication, persistence and belief in the values that we uphold, we do rise up to the challenge and thrive.
- What would you say is the most important tradition at Ettinger? What tradition or core value best defines your brand?
The most important tradition has to be the continued ‘hand crafting’ of our Ettinger portfolio at our factory in the Midlands. We have an incredibly loyal, long-standing and talented team of craftspeople and their continued well-being, skills development and growth is vital to the future of our brand and its global reputation.
In terms of a core value, our singular and timeless style sets us apart We don’t aim to conform to fashion nor settle for the easy route, we will always remain true to our key design and craftsmanship values as we believe this provides our leather goods with a truly distinctive identity taken from the heart of our English heritage.
- What was the inspiration for the Bridle Hide collection? How do you come up with the product range and colour combinations?
The Ettinger Bridle Hide collection is one of our oldest and most classic collections. It is also our best selling collection. Many of the product designs go back to the early days of the company and reflect original designs from the 1930s and 40s but as lifestyles have changed, new products have been introduced and subtle changes have been made to other items. Initially, the inspiration for this collection was traditional equestrian leather.
Bridle hide is a typical English type of leather, pit-tanned for extra durability, and used to make saddles and bridles. This tougher leather was lined under the saddle with a softer panel hide, which would be more comfortable for the horse. Together, these leathers offer a distinctly British style and we refined the tanning processes in order to create wallets and purses in a much more elegant way.
Most of the colours are therefore classic equestrian colours, but being a smart London firm we added a few more to add to the fun, for example the Petrol Blue bridle hide. London Tan, in fact is a traditional colour, used on the London stagecoach lines.
The items have been designed and modified organically over the years to meet new practical requirements (credit card pockets for example) and ensure elegance of style throughout.
- If you could pick any one item from the Bridle Hide Collection to give as a gift, what would it be?
If it was for a man, I would certainly choose our classic, best-selling billfold wallet with 6 credit card slots and would add the recipient’s initials to the outside.
If it was for a lady, I would choose our large zip around purse which is just such a useful and elegant accessory and has been time-tested and approved by ladies the world over.
xoxo, Faith/ Sassy Ethnic Bohemian