FIVE MINUTES WITH …
GEOFF BRATT, LEATHER CRAFTSMAN AT MULBERRY
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