LOOK INSIDE THE LONDON WORKSHOP THAT STILL MAKES DOCTOR BAGS
Dunhill, the men’s luxury brand founded in 1887, operates a factory in the city where its wallets and bags are still made by hand.
Bourdon House, a gentleman’s hideaway just north of Berkeley Square in London, is often described as the spiritual home of the British leather goods company, Alfred Dunhill Ltd.
But you can make a case for the brand’s Walthamstow workshop at 32 St Andrews St, a 30 minute drive north, where custom-built briefcases, handbags, and wallets have been assem- bled since 1936. Alfred Dunhill began his career in 1887 as an apprentice in his family’s London business, then became obsessed with car racing and started making high-quality accessories for the age of the automobile.
Not much has changed, although now it’s US$1,090 Cadogan briefcases, US$1,650 Boston backpacks, and US$5,400 Duke holdalls. It takes, on average, 30 hours to complete one piece.
Today, the luxury goods maker is a subsidiary of Cie Financiere Richemont SA, which also owns Cartier, Montblanc, Piaget, and Van Cleef & Arpels. In January, Dunhill introduced former Burberry Group executive Andrew Maag as its new chief executive officer.
His fellow ex-Burberry alum Mark Weston is the new creative director and previewed the fall 2017 collection in June. “One hundred per cent of everything is new,” Maag said of the collection. But you can still get handmade classics also at the Walthamstow workshop - including the company’s beloved Wolseley briefcase, made in the shape of a classic doctor’s bag.
A worker stitches leather sections to a Kempton canvas tote bag, an item that’s currently sold out
An employee hand stitches the top section of a Wolseley doctor's bag
Sections of leather offcuts sit on a storage cabinet
An employee uses a scanning machine to measure a section of hide
Travel tags rest on a bench in the workshop.
A close-up of the hand-stitching process
Rolls of goat hide are racked in the storeroom
A selection of tools used in manufacturing leather bags
A finished Wolseley bag
An employee uses a sewing machine to bind two sections of leather