“Oh My God!” is pretty much what I said when these shots from Doe Leather’s new lookbook landed in my inbox. Oh. MyGod. A wistful, solitary walk looking out across the tousled Suffolk countryside, waiting to explore with an exquisitely handcrafted leather bag slung over one shoulder…I don’t really need to explain why they’ve caught my attention. But I’m going to anyway.
Social media has a wonderful way of bringing people together sometimes, my go-to community is on Instagram right now where I first met fellow Suffolk girl (always a conversation starter) and owner of Doe Leather, Deborah Thomas. Over the Easter break I found myself sitting at a table with her over coffee and pastries at Pump St Bakery – a last minute get-together whilst I visited my parents up in Suffolk. The room a cosy warm against the crisp cold of an Orford morning and with the shuck of the milk frother readying our lattés she told me her story of the Northamptonshire factory run by her family for three generations.
She told me how, spanning almost a century, her grandfathers built up a strong heritage in the British leather industry, producing and embossing hides for export only for the factory to close its doors in 2002, pushed out by the cheap and fast imported leather from the toxic tanneries. Google it. As she showed me some old photos of the factory in its Art Deco glory days to a postcard of a now derelict, empty staircase inside, I could see the how much this meant to her and the childhood memories attached to it.
Now, Deborah is working to rebuild that heritage with her own collection of bridle leather accessories, produced in the Black Country in one of the last remaining leather workshops where the leather is lovingly nourished and crafted into bags over a period of several months. And the details? Oh you’ll love this – the designs for the zip pulls have been cut from the factory swatch archives and stitched carefully to give each bag a unique identity and a piece of that history.
Ethically produced. British made. These are bags for life.