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The vet­eran crafts­man could be re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing your Mul­berry Wil­low tote. Here, he talks about his love of a good hide and why mak­ing ob­jects of de­sire still ex­cites him. How long have you been a leather crafts­man? About 49 years. I started as an as­sis­tant leather store­man work­ing for C&J Clark [Clarks] shoe­mak­ers in 1963. The fac­tory man­ager was Fran­cis Michael Saul, the fa­ther of Mul­berry’s founder, Roger Saul. What do you do each day? I’m a flexi em­ployee, which means I could be work­ing with a dif­fer­ent team ev­ery day – whether it be as a cut­ter or trim cut­ter, split­ting leather to the ap­pro­pri­ate weight or lam­i­nat­ing sec­tions to­gether. I might even be hand­sewing. Time it takes to train some­one to make a Mul­berry bag? To train some­one in my core skill of leather cut­ting takes around two years, af­ter which an ap­pren­tice would hope­fully be rea­son­ably pro­fi­cient. How­ever, I be­lieve we never stop learn­ing but just go on adding to one’s ex­pe­ri­ence. Which is the most com­pli­cated Mul­berry bag to make and why? Prob­a­bly the Wil­low tote be­cause the out­side of the bag needs to be matched, as does the suede lin­ing. It is two bags in one: the main bag plus the zip-off clutch bag. Given the size of the sec­tions, not all hides can ac­com­mo­date the size of the pat­terns for this style, so work­ing on one is very de­tailed and pre­cise. The qual­i­ties of great leather? Good leather has a nat­u­ral feel to it with a beau­ti­ful grain and ages to be even more tac­tile, mak­ing it some­thing that can be loved for­ever. What keeps you pas­sion­ate? The chal­lenge of turn­ing a leather hide into a prod­uct for a cus­tomer to cher­ish – that feel­ing sparks daily pride in my work. I love the look on a per­son’s face when they pick up a nice bag; their plea­sure is mine.

Back­stage at Mul­berry Au­tumn/ Win­ter ’13

Har­ley Viera New­ton with a Mul­berry bag

Mul­berry Au­tumn/ Win­ter ’13

Tote, Mul­berry

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