Based amongst the rolling hills of Dorset (also my home county), Forbes & Lewis is an emerging accessories brand focusing on small, luxury leather and canvas goods. Named after it’s founders, Samuel Lewis Windridge and Katie Forbes, F&L pays homage to world heritage and traditional fashion styles, incorporating the old with the new.
I caught up with Forbes & Lewis founder, Katie Forbes, recently to find out more about the brand first hand.
TSOA: So how did Forbes & Lewis come about?
KF: After much research, a passion for leather and a love for fashion, Forbes & Lewis was launched. We launched F&L as we could not find any decent entry-level luxury brands, the market either had high-end designers charging a fortune or at the lower end, tate. We wanted to create a brand, which had all the styling, detailing and quality of a top designer label with a reasonable price tag.
TSOA: Which product did you design first?
KF: We designed the whole range as a collection so we try to interlink each product to the next with colour and design styles but I think the first silhouette I drew out on paper was the Leisel satchel with the opening back section. It’s hard to limit the design of new silhouettes when you’re starting out with so many ideas in mind.
TSOA: Now we know TheScienceofAppearnce.com is all about the Arnold gym bag, but do you have a favourite style?
KF: Sam’s favourite is the Arnold Gym bag but I love the 13″ Dorset Satchels, so cute and such nice leathers so I would have to put them first!
TSOA: Where do you get your inspiration?
KF: We get our inspiration from all over really, keeping an open mind and letting our ideas lead from one to the next.
TSOA: Do you road test each design before it gets put into production?
KF: Yes, we are really keen to make sure all our designs work well and are practical as well as stylish, so we sample and road test all products before production.
TSOA: What’s the process of a Forbes & Lewis product, from design to dispatch?
KF: All of our designs start with a sketch followed by a computer drawing which details everything from colour and style to stitch colour and pockets, and then the sampling begins. We get a first sample sent over to us to check and adapt if necessary. We then spend much time picking the best leathers and canvas types for each different silhouette. Once we are happy with all the materials, fixtures, fittings and designs we give the go ahead to make the salesman samples. Once these are approved we can place our order and visit the factory to make sure everything is going according to plan.
TSOA: A lot of Forbes & Lewis’ designs are very simple, modern classics. Was this always the intention or did you come across this style and think ‘well this works’?
KF: We have always wanted to keep our designs simple and understated with a modern twist so the aim was always to produce a classic range with a contemporary edge. We feel this is a good starting point, which we can look to expand on over the next few years.
TSOA: If you had to describe Forbes & Lewis in three words, what would they be?
KF: Stylish understated luxury
TSOA: What does the future hold for Forbes & Lewis?
KF: We are taking it one step at a time and really trying to focus on building our core styles whilst injecting new and exciting styles and colours. We are going to be introducing lots of waterproof canvas and leather mix products for Autumn Winter 2013/14, which will complement our full leather styles and collaborating with some great people!
After connecting, Forbes & Lewis sent me a couple of their current collections’ key pieces, the Arnold gym bag and the Dorset satchel to try out.
I was impressed from the get-go. The designs are focused, sleek and effortlessly refined. Blending a masculine edge with fashionable accents, Forbes & Lewis offers arm candy for any occasion, and at an accessible price.
I’m completely in love with the Arnold gym bag, and since having it I have used it nearly everyday. A beautifully designed bag, its canvas body moulds with its contents, and your body, for an effortlessly comfortable fit. The single strap is a versatile way to carry the bag, on the shoulder or across the body. The additional handle to the side makes for a quick grab and go. The leather trims give this bag a refined finish, taking up to a luxury level. A handy front zip pockets makes the perfect place to stash your essentials when hitting the gym, or for easy-access documents when travelling.
I honestly cannot shout about this bag enough, I have had a compliment about the bag every single time I have taken it out the house, and let’s face it – that’s a huge reason why we are so picky with what we where. We want to impress those around us and be noticed. Job done. And with a price tag of £50-65, the Arnold gym bag offers amazing value for money.
Find out more about the Arnold bag by checking out my article over on Fashionbeans.com.
As for the Dorset satchel, this classic-with-a-twist style is perfect for those who like to be fashionable but need their style with a little added water. A staple black-leather design, this satchel is given a bold pop of colour with a blue leather carry handle. Under the hood (a magnetic fastening flap), you find a sizeable front pocket, perfect for magazines and tablets, as well as a slim but spacious enough main compartment. The bag does have a negligible stability issue when placed upright while full, but that’s a mere comment and takes nothing from this beautiful bag. It’s a perfect work choice, carried as a briefcase with a suit, but is just as stylish paired with your weekend looks, toted by the removable shoulder strap when hands-free is needed.
Something I’d love to see from the Dorset satchel would be a raw inside, currently it has a durable poly-cotton canvas in tonal black that adds stability to the bag, but I’d love to see an exposed raw leather maybe even just on the front pocket as an homage to the earthy home-grown roots of the bag and company. Priced at £165, this bag offers a lot of bang for your buck. When quality, design and manufacturing are factored in, the Dorset bag is the epitome of the ‘investment piece’.
I feel honoured that Forbes & Lewis have reached out to me with their products. Their designs are high-class and the story behind the brand gives them a great connectivity with their consumer. I can’t wait to see the new additions to the collection next season, and can’t wait to collaborate with them again.
Check out the photos from my shoot with the F&L products below, or head over and view the rest of the collection at ForbesandLewis.com