A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited by Tusting and Push PR to visit the Tusting HQ out in beautiful Buckinghamshire. It was set to be an afternoon of tea, coffee and cake, countryside and masses of shoptalk, the shop being Tusting’s beautiful bags. I was going to be seeing how their bags were made, from the drawing board to leather sourcing and construction.
I met Becky from Push PR at St Pancras where we boarded our Bedford bound train (queue 30 minutes of fashion chat and beautiful countryside views). My inner country boy came flooding back. We were met at Bedford station by Tusting’s Director William, my excitement level grew as we drove off down the road to the workshop.
Situated along a quaint village road, the Tusting workshop, named The Old Tannery is a welcoming building that proudly displays the Tusting logo out the front.
The first port of call was a tour of the workshop, looking at the leathers and how they are selected, through to the heart of the company, the manufacturing room where a small team of skilled craftsmen (and mainly women) work in individual parts of the process that combine to create Tusting’s bags.
A Whole Lot of History
A family firm founded in 1875, Tusting’s roots lie within the English leather and shoe trade, starting with an on-site tannery, which eventually closed in place of outsourcing to Italy, Spain, Finland and India. Tusting provided leather for some of the country’s most prestigious Northampton-based shoe makers, including Church’s. Since then Tusting has evolved into a fully-fledged leather accessories, luggage and furniture supplier, keeping the production based in England, something that gives Tusting is charm.
Inside the workshop, high-skilled craftsmen and leatherworkers, many of whose families share their own heritage with Tusting, work in a surprisingly small area, producing up to 350 bags a week by hand.
With five generations under its belt Tusting knows a thing or two about leather. The leather is some of the most beautiful and enduring available, with some styles signature to Tusting. Tusting leathers are coloured using aniline drum dying, which enhances the intensity of the colour and guarantees longevity.
To find out more about Tusting’s leathers, linings and other materials, click here.
Making a coveted Tusting bag is a seven-step process from leather selection and cutting to the final packaged product.
1. First up in the bag making process is the selection and examination of the leathers. Making sure there are no faults, creases, marks or damage, ensuring Tusting’s signature quality is achieved.
2. Once leather has been cut and inspected, all of the leather pieces are ‘edged finished’ to make sure they match the finish of the bag.
3. After this the leather is split in order to reduce its thickness so it fits in the seams, this was quite an incredible process, so simple in viewing, as it slid through the machine without hesitation and then comes out the other side considerably thinner, and therefore more flexible.
4.The next stage is to prep the leather ready for the machines.
5. After this the leather is passed on to the machine workers where the leather is stitched together. The leather may go back and fourth between the bench workers and machinist, ensuring the leather is perfect before piecing together.
6. Once all of the flat pieces of leather are complete, they go to the arm machines where they are stitched together to give the bag its final shape.
7. The final step of the process is inspection, making sure the bag is up to Tusting’s standard. Marks can be buffed out and stitching can be secured and tweaked if needed.
You can watch the workshop process in Tusting’s ‘Making a Tusting bag’ video here.
After I had finished looking at the manufacturing process, William took me to the showroom to check out the legendry Tusting bags in all of their glory. Check out the image below.
As my time at the workshop was coming to an end, Tusting had a surprise for me. Gillian Tusting (she’s the one sending out the friendly tweets and other social coms!) presented me with my very own Tusting bag! It was such an incredible gift, and I was honoured and only too excited to accept a wonderful Clipper for my own.
The Clipper is a flagship style for Tusting, it’s best selling hand case, it epitomises all that is great about this wonderful brand. My Clipper is made form Tusting’s beautiful Sundance Floodlight leather, a beautifully rich and oily leather with so much character, finished with contrasting topstitching for an eye-catching statement. The build quality is exceptional, it feels strong without being stiff, it’s spacious without being cumbersome, and the proportions couldn’t be any more perfect. It sits neatly on the body with use of the shoulder strap, or can be carried comfortable by hand using the carry handle. I love to use mine as a camera bag, and my day-to-day bag, but this bag could be used for anything, as a briefcase, small holdall, overnighter or handbag.
Want a clipper of your own? Check out more of Tusting’s clippers and other bags here.
I can’t express enough to you my love of Tusting, from my first introduction at Selfridges, to writing my first article on them, it has been a wonderfully organic process that has let to a great relationship with the brand and the team at Push PR. Tusting bags are national treasure, an icon of British manufacturing and product as well as an homage to the traditional processes that go unmatched in today’s mass-produced world. And with fans such as the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and stockists including the World’s Greatest Department Store, Selfridges, it’s clear to see why Tusting has stood the test of time, and doesn’t show a sign of going anywhere.
These bags are investment styles and lifetime ones at that. The leather mature and grow with you, and even if they do suffer damage as time moves on, Tusting are more than happy to help you restore you bag to its originally glory. Check out some of Tusting’s restoration stories here.
You can get your hands on a Tusting at Tusting.co.uk or Selfridges.com
To view the look book, shot at the beautiful Turvey House not far from Tusting’s workshop , click here
Awesome write up. I’ve been searching for a solid USA or English built bag for a while now and I have the Tusting Clipper on the way. Looks like a great bag… thanks for the article.