Our expertise... We make luxury products every day. As a specialist manufacturer with over 40 years experience of cutting, edge finishing and stitching all kinds of leather and fabrics, you can trust us to know what you need for your project.
Our factory... We have a fully equipped factory in Manchester, staffed by highly skilled and experienced artisans. Here traditional craft skills combine with specialist machinery to create amazing samples and ensure the delivery of perfect products every time.
Our values... All our efforts are focused on maintaining a highly skilled manufacturing capability here in the UK and when dealing with customers and staff to be ethical and transparent. We do not subcontract any part of our work.
Our dedicated pattern and sample making department will work with you to create a prototype for your approval. It is at this stage that we can work out the material usage and bulk production costs.
Making your designs... whether you are an established brand or designer wanting to create a collection of handbags or an agency with a client brief for a promotional, customised or technical product: contact us. Our know-how, experience and extensive knowledge of material suppliers means we can help you get it done!
Saving money... by reducing design, sampling and production lead times. Which means you can order in quantities that sell through, reorder quickly if needed and not have large stocks left over.
"In uncertain times, be lean, nimble and maximise profitability".
Reducing your risk... by making all or some of your range with us. Our minimum order quantities are very reasonable and if we work together, prices can also be really competitive.
"With all that's going on in the world, now is the time to re-balance your production sourcing towards the UK."
The look and feel of your product or collection will depend largely on your choice of leather and/or fabrics and fittings. If you have not already done so, it is important to look at a range of materials and suppliers to find the ones most suited to your requirements.
We source leathers from the best tanneries in the UK and EU who only operate in accordance with strict environmental regulations.
British woolen fabrics such as tweed and worsted are famous and in demand around the world as too is the iconic waterproofed cotton canvas. Working with natural fabrics such as these and combining them with leather to make bags is a speciality of ours.
For consumers who wish to avoid animal products, we are also able to use synthetic fabrics, synthetic leathers and plant based "vegan" leathers.
So, whether you want a natural bridle hide or an embossed chrome tanned leather or even an exotic reptile skin, we have the experience and know how to make it work with your design
All leathers, fabrics, metal components, dyes and adhesives that we purchase are sourced from the UK or EU and are fully compliant with EU REACH regulations.
If you need any guidance choosing the right materials for your project we are happy to help. To get you started we have listed below a few of the suppliers we know and use.
Technically speaking, the skin of any animal can be converted into a leather by tanning. The most common is bovine leather because it is a byproduct of the global meat industry and the hides are plentiful, large and quite thick but the same processes and finishing techniques are used to produce sheep, pig, goat, reptile or even fish leathers.
There are two main types of leather you will commonly hear referred to by suppliers: vegetable tanned (VT) and chrome tanned. The names derive from the type of chemical agent used in the tanning process where a raw skin is converted to leather. You can find a lot of information online about the two tanning processes but here we will focus just on the differences relevant to making bags and wallets.
We usually select bovine leathers (VT or chrome) for the main parts of bags and wallets but if we need a soft lining a chrome tanned sheep or goat leather with a suede finish works well. Pig suedes have a distinctive hair cell pattern and are often used to line briefcases.
Bovine VT leathers tend to be firmer and more durable than chrome tanned leathers making them ideal for saddles, belts, handles/straps and bags with a more structured design. The surface will change and acquire character (shading and marking) with age. As only natural substances should be used to dye the hides, the colour range is more limited than chrome leathers. Then there's the unmistakable smell - the traditional aroma of leather. VT leather is sold as shoulders, butts and sometimes sides.
Chrome tanning uses a solution of chemicals, acids, and salts (including chromium sulphate) to tan the hide. In terms of overall production, 80-90% of leathers in the world are made by chrome tanning. It’s a very quick process, taking about a day to produce a piece of chrome tanned leather (compared to 6-8 weeks for VT leather). This means chrome leathers are generally cheaper. The surface is uniform and can be dyed and finished in many more ways than VT leather. Chrome leathers are well suited to making clothing, upholstery and bags where a softer feel is wanted.
Of course, nothing is totally fixed and tanneries are able to modify and supplement tanning ingredients and even combine the two processes to achieve softer, more colourful VT leathers and likewise, firmer chromes as required. Talk to us or your chosen leather supplier for more details.
The edges of leather goods can be turned and faced (where one edge is longer and is turned and fixed over the other) or cut edge (where the cut edge(s) are left as they are and visible) or if the leather is soft enough and design allows, the item can fixed together and stitched inside out and then turned through to make all the edges and seams internal.
VT leathers yield clean, smooth edges ideal for cut edge designs and usually only need minimal sealing and polishing. In fact, the better quality the leather, the less you should want to conceal the character of the surface or edge.
For chrome leathers we normally (but not always) make turned and faced or turned through products, where the edges are either not visible or inside the bag. The cut edges of chrome leathers can also be attractively finished. There are many edge colours available but to achieve a smooth, even result requires a lot of repeated processing (sanding, filling, polishing, colouring). Fortunately, this is another area where we have built up a lot of expertise and equipment.
Tweed is a coarse, woolen fabric used mainly for making clothing but is also a great material to combine with leather to make bags. It is naturally water repellent, hard wearing and comes in many different colours and patterns. Some types of tweed are very specific to geographical regions. The provenance and exclusivity of these fabrics are important marketing and selling points. For example, Harris tweed is only made in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland on hand looms and only from locally sourced wool. Another example is Herdwick tweed which comes only from the Herdwick sheep breed of the English Lake District. The wool is collected directly from selected farms and processed into yarn and fabric locally. Seen here made up as a tote bag with leather trim.
Canvas is usually made from cotton and sometimes linen. It differs from other heavy cotton fabrics, such as denim, in being plain weave rather than twill weave. Canvas comes in two basic types: plain and duck. The threads in duck canvas are more tightly woven. Canvas is made in a range of weights (oz per sq yd) and we would normally use a plain 12oz canvas to make a lightweight item and an 18oz (or possibly even a 24oz) for a strong holdall or backpack. Traditionally, the canvas fabric would be waterproofed by applying coats of wax but for most modern applications it is impregnated with flurocarbon to give a clean, non-waxy finish.
The range and diversity of synthetic fabrics and materials are vast and impossible to cover here in detail. The applications range from clothing and bags to sports shoes and technical textiles. At Lineapelle in Milan, a whole hall is dedicated to suppliers of just these materials.
Synthetic leathers and suedes are made by putting a surface layer of PVC or polyurethane on to a base layer of woven or non-woven fabric. The surface layer can be processed, embossed and coloured to produce any desired finish. These materials have been used in the shoe and handbag industry for many years and the production processes are technically advanced.
The most common synthetic fabrics are woven polyesters and nylons. Nylon is more expensive but much more durable and resistant to abrasion. Both types of fabric can be surface printed and waterproofed with fluorocarbon.
We have manufactured bags using many types of technical textiles including UK made military grade high tenacity nylon (seen here with a camoflage print).
The main advantage of synthetic materials is their consistency. They are supplied on rolls of regular width and colour differences between batches are minimal. They are also not animal based if that is an important factor. The disadvantage may be that they are derived from petroleum and the materials are persistent as waste in the environment for a long time (taking ten times longer to bio-degrade than real leather). All of which neatly brings us to...
In an effort to make synthetic leathers more environmentally friendly, material manufacturers have replaced the base layer (normally a petroleum based fabric or non woven) with a plant based substitute.
For example, Pinatex® uses a base layer made from the waste leaves of the pineapple industry in the Philippines. The top surface is still polyurethane but 60-70% of the total material is now plant based. It is largely bio-degradable and can boast the fact that effectively a waste byproduct from one industry has been converted into something useful in another. [Interestingly, many leather professionals say this is exactly the case with the meat and leather industries and that the skins they process are a waste byproduct that would otherwise cause a massive environmental problem]
This is a fast changing sector and new products are being launched regularly. Please talk to us about using these materials with your designs. We are actively sampling a number of these plant-based materials and will publish more information soon.
We have published reviews on our Blog page of how we found working with Pinatex and Viridis.
See also the drop down list of all the suppliers we know (with links to their websites) in the Materials section above.