Ettinger for The Rake: The Leather Collection
Synonymous with quality, luxury and a certain, ineffable Englishness, artisanal leathergoods maker Ettinger is the latest addition to The Rake Atelier.
Long-time Londoner, and one of the world’s most famous Brits, Stephen Fry is well versed in the capital’s idiosyncrasies. “The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane,” he wrote in The Ode Less Travelled, perfectly summing up London’s dual personality and ability to sit at both ends of the spectrum. This duality, this funny, quirky characteristic so synonymous with London – and Londoners – is just what The Rake’s Ettinger collection taps into. The luxury leatherware company, born in Britain and developed over the last 83 years, carries a quiet synergy with its sense of British style and character. The signature London Tan, for example, is recognisable at twenty feet, a rich golden hue just the right side of yellow. The London Tan was inspired by a fleet of buses that used to gather up Bournemouth’s commuters one end and deposit them the other. Stamped with the sign of the Royal Warrant, Ettinger London Tan is an iconic part of many of their designs from the Bridle Hide Credit Card Case to the classic Billfold Wallet. The playful use of colour also expresses the Londoner’s need for expression and creativity, but in a subtle and elegant way. Take the Sterling Collection, inspired by none other than British bank notes. Each wallet and credit card holder is individually lined in a single exuberant shade of pillar-box red, sea-green turquoise, citrus orange or thistle-purple. The outside, however, is made of flawless black leather, with the understanding that Londoners may want to look smart, professional and polished outwardly, but they can have a little fun with the interior. “The colours look superb on leather,” Ettinger’s Marketing Director Jerome Mackay explains to The Rake, “and the same concept applies to the idea of wearing a classic business suit with an audacious silk-print lining inside”. The joy is in knowing something others don’t.
Speaking of, clearly Ettinger has a secret formula. Their factory is located in Walsall, a town internationally recognised for its leatherworks, but remains one of the only ones still operating. And wherever possible, Ettinger sources its leather from English tanneries. Owner Robert Ettinger explains “it’s a bit like cooking; if you use top quality ingredients it makes a big difference to the end product. We also go to the tanneries to select the raw materials before it is fully tanned to make sure we get only the best leathers.” If you’ve never held an Ettinger product in your hands before, the quality of the leather is something that stands out. Flawless expanses of butter-soft leather speak volumes of the level of quality skins used, with not a mark or blemish to be seen. The Bridle Hide is something that the company takes serious pride in, drawing on Walsall’s equestrian heritage (the area used to be known for making saddles, hence the local football club’s nickname ‘The Saddlers’) and Ettinger’s truly British sensibility. Says Robert, “Bridle Hide is the leather we first started using in the 1930s. It ages beautifully, and that collection is still our most popular even after 80 years.” The unique nature of Bridle Hide leather was intended to bear the weight and comfort of horse riders; its smoothness and durability have always been key, making it the perfect leather for day-to-day essentials. The strength and resilience is evident in the way the products only get better with use, taking on a beautiful natural sheen with every touch. Celebrating the craftsmanship at the centre of Ettinger’s history, the Saint Crispin collection is named after the patron saint of cobblers and leatherworkers. The brand’s appreciation of time-honoured practices, nature and quality is reflected in the classic, earthy colourways and unfussy design that appeals to the masses. “As for our clients, they vary hugely. Our customers appreciate superb hand-crafted quality leather goods in classic styles or with contemporary twists but their age and demographic varies considerably,” Robert explains. Known to produce leather goods for the Royal Family, he also adds that Ettinger is a brand that makes “eighteen year olds in Japan save up for six months to buy a wallet”. The St James Attache Case and Mayfair Briefcase both hark back to the era in which Ettinger was conceived, where the briefcase was a fundamental part of a gentleman’s wardrobe, and The Rake’s Ettinger collection also serves the man who thought he had it all – until now. An impeccably hand-crafted shoe horn small enough to fit in one’s carry-on, a hip-flask that slips neatly into a breast pocket sheathed in the highest quality British leatherwork, a luggage tag that hides one’s hotel details from nosey onlookers and wallets that make your euros and your yen prettier than ever. These are the travelling gentleman’s modern essentials – whether he’s a Londoner or not.