We visit Alfie Douglas
Finlay & Co. visits Alfie Douglas
We first noticed Alfie Douglas and their beautifully simple collection of leather bags at London Fashion Week last season. Pawing through their Lookbook, a delightfully minimalist showcase of original and unisex bags; we knew this British brand had hit the accessory nail on the head. Alfie Douglas doesn’t focus on trends, just reliable and practical leather goods, designed to withstand a lifetime of use.
We visited Alfie Douglas’ home, a bountiful room located in The Old Vinyl Factory, formerly owned by British music company, EMI. It’s both a studio space, workshop, showroom and home to the entire manufacturing process. Bathed in natural light, with manufacturing machinery lined up against one wall and hanging plants cascading from the ceiling; the general waft of leather sits lightly in the air as ingenious handmade products take form before your very eyes, from wallets and backpacks to briefcases and totes.
Alfie Douglas is a family affair. Mum and dad, well Davida and Simon Hadden set up the business following many former lives running other manufacturing businesses, and now with the help of two of their four daughters - Emily and Jessica, the family are now single-handedly designing, hand-stitching and selling all Alfie Douglas leather goods under one roof. Their studio space, which wouldn’t look out of place on an interiors design blog, even features a photography corner, the place from which the Alfie Douglas Instagram feed is born out of.
Alfie Douglas officially launched in April 2014 with big name customers already including Ellie Goulding, Jessie Ware and Lucy Rose. We’ll let you guess which singer-songwriter included her Alfie backpack in one of her videos! The bags are sensibly designed, made from panels of leather which are used across every shape of bag to create endless varieties - and when you browse the products on the website, it tells you exactly how much of your stuff you’ll be able to cram into each bag. So for instance, the Alfie Two - Backpack - Small will fit your standard iPad, whilst the Alfie One - Large comfortably fits your 15 inch laptop, plus other daily work essentials. Straps are made from British bridles and feature solid brass cast nickel-plated fittings and external hand- stitching gives the bags a rigidity that fills you with trust that this new bag of yours, can take a battering for years to come.
Inspecting the texture of a line-up of Alfie bags, standing to attention awaiting the final stages of the production process, you’ll notice the difference in ‘grain’, the way in which the leather looks. This is down to the way in which the leather is processed and each bag is ever so slightly different. Davida explained to me, ‘The more you wear your bag, the better it becomes as the leather softens and the character of the quirky marks in the leather becomes more apparent’. But its practicality which comes first and foremost when dealing with Alfie Douglas bags. Designed with a simple stroke of versatile genius, the Alfie One features a ‘Motion Tab’, which enables you to quickly convert your shoulder bag to backpack.
16 years olds to customers of 101 years have been buying Alfie Douglas and so it’s no surprise that all the big retail names out there want a piece of Alfie Douglas. Why are their bags so popular? “Simple designs, quality leather and the fact that they’re handmade in England”, answers Simon. With a growing collection of unisex bags available in black, navy and tan, Alfie Douglas are moving forward into new products… ahem, shoes please!? The beauty of their workspace allows the team to try out new designs from start to finish, all in one place, in a relatively short amount of time. If you want to shop Alfie Douglas visit them online at www.alfiedouglas.com
And Alfie Douglas’ favourite Finlay frames? “We have all come to an unanimous decision! We love the Draycott Tortoise! Very 1930's Movie Starish”.