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Design classic is new Brit It-Bag

posted 21 Feb 2012, 10:12 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Feb 2012, 10:13 ]

"Made in Britain" is once again becoming a sought-after symbol on fashion items and other products. The Cambridge Satchel Company makes classic leather satchels in the UK and has gone from an idea to a global business in just a few years.

UK-MADE IN BRITAIN - From an idea hatched at a kitchen table to a global business.

When Julie Deane needed to make some money to pay school fees - she hit upon the idea of creating classic British satchels.

She and her mother Freda Thomas were still running the business from their home three years ago - now their bags are worn by fashionistas in over 70 countries and they expect to have a turnover of £10 million or $15 and half million this year.

Julie Deane, Co-founder of Cambridge Satchel Company, saying

"We brought back the traditional satchel design, but in a huge variety of colours and looks, the glittery, the neon, the fluorescent, and we've always been very cutting edge with the satchels, that's why we work with people like Comme des Garcons."

Freda Thomas, Co-founder of Cambridge Satchel Company, saying

"We were so determined and everyone was laughing and they said you'll never make it, you know, you'll never bring the satchel back, and we thought, yes we will."

The bags are hand-made in Britain - in this factory in Leicester where they make around 2000 a week.

Julie says she likes the ease of producing in Britain, and the knowledge the people who make the bags are earning a fair wage.

Julie Deane, Co-founder of Cambridge Satchel Company, saying

"I can go to one of the people that work and make satchels for us, or I can go to the factory that we set up and we can just discuss it, we can look at problems and we can look at new designs, and very quickly turn things around. We can produce and have a lightening response to new trends, or what the customers say on Twitter and Facebook."


After years of decline, there's talk of a resurgence in British manufacturing.

And firms like the Cambridge Satchel Company say the label "Made in Britain" and its association with heritage and craftsmanship is a popular selling point at home and abroad.

Cambridge Satchel company bags sell well in the United States, Japan and China. And they're not the only ones doing well, British brand Mulberry, showing its latest collection at London Fashion Week, produces its coveted bags in England.

Shannon Edwards is Managing Director of Shopstyle.

Shannon Edwards, Managing Director of Shopstyle, saying

"'Made in Britain' is great marketing, it connotes quality and it's very big, especially in Asia, it's a really good brand tool for the country. But also as manufacturing costs are going up in China, it's bringing manufacturing back home, which is creating jobs."

Cambridge Satchels are so popular they've spawned cheap imitations.

Julie and Freda haven't let that hold them back, they plan to launch new styles for the next season and they're due to move to a larger factory - still in the UK - to meet demand.

Joanna Partridge, Reuters