In the mak­ing

Aspinal of Lon­don

Country Life Every Week - - In The Making -

Ayoung com­pany at just 15 years old, Aspinal’s rich her­itage is per­haps helped by be­ing based deep in the West Sus­sex coun­try­side and the fact it’s named af­ter the late charis­matic zoo owner and gam­bling club host John Aspinall.

Launched by Iain Bur­ton, who still owns the firm, Aspinal quickly be­came known for mak­ing gor­geous lux­ury goods, be­gin­ning with craft­ing beau­ti­ful leather books for mu­se­ums around the world—from the Lou­vre to the nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum—and has since di­ver­si­fied into a range of de­light­ful leather ac­ces­sories.

Colour is def­i­nitely the thing here, with most bags made in at least six dif­fer­ent hues. This is a for­ward think­ing brand, al­ways in­no­vat­ing, with tech­nol­ogy at the fore­front of Cre­ative Di­rec­tor Mariya Dykalo’s mind— there are even in-built charger packs in some bags, a life­saver for those on the go. Aspinal par­tic­i­pates in Lon­don Fash­ion Week and holds reg­u­lar events in Clar­idge’s Ballroom.

All ages are catered for—when I last popped in, an ec­static girl was be­ing bought her 18thbirth­day present—but I also know some grand­moth­ers who have a vast col­lec­tion of the com­pany’s leather­bound books, which still make up 20% of the sales. Whether a game book, cel­lar book, din­ner party book or a so­cial di­ary, these vol­umes are here to stay. The store at 25, Brook Street, Lon­don W1, is a sight to be­hold—i of­ten wish its walls could talk (or hum a tune), as Han­del lived and com­posed for 36 years in the pan­elled back room there —the mu­seum is up­stairs.

Aspinal is about to open a new flag­ship store on Lower Re­gent Street, which will ‘feel like step­ping into an English home,’ en­thuses Mariya, ‘a feel­ing we aim to cre­ate in ev­ery store’, where ser­vice is of up­most im­por­tance. Even if you’re buy­ing some­thing small, staff treat your pur­chase with care— beau­ti­fully wrapped with a gor­geous box and rib­bon—and you’ll leave feel­ing as if you’ve bought into some­thing very Bri­tish in­deed.

Maria’s tips for trav­el­ling with your hang­bags

‘When pack­ing bags in your lug­gage, al­ways pad the in­side of the bag with other clothes—roll up your scarves and socks to help keep the shape—which is also eco­nomic on space. Spread bags be­tween clothes, not near shoes, so they are sur­rounded by soft fab­rics. When you’re not us­ing them, stuff them with tis­sue pa­per and store them care­fully, al­though it’s fun to have them on show so you can chop and change eas­ily. Keep es­sen­tials in a smaller pouch that you can eas­ily move from one bag to an­other, which is per­fect for travel and dou­bles as an evening bag.’

‘and We are al­ways learn­ing, evolv­ing im­prov­ing the prod­uct, but keep­ing the time­less English feel Mariya Dykalo talks to Hetty Chid­wick

Beau­ti­ful Soul Lot­tie Bag in smooth misty blue and blos­som print, £495 (www.as­pinaloflon­don.com; 01428 648180)

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