Craft & Design
Our 25th Birthday Handbags: Collect A Piece of Radley History
04 September 2023
We’ve been busy planning a very special event – our 25th birthday. And we’re celebrating it the best way we know, with a new collection of special edition handbags. Because all the best presents come in the shape of accessories, especially when they’re made using the finest leathers and craftsmanship techniques.
Talking us through these incredible styles is Lucy, who’s been a member of our Design Team for over 13 years.
“We wanted to create a collection of handbags that would express Radley London’s personality, that also felt nostalgic and joyful. To truly represent our brand, we knew these special-edition designs had to be colourful, fun and involve some of our most iconic styles.
“As experts in leather, we’ve always taken pride in using the very best, and this collection is no different. Each collectible has also been carefully crafted in our gold-standard leather.”
Pick out your new party bag and enjoy the celebrations. This is going to be the best birthday ever.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Let’s take it back to 1998, when we started as a stall in London’s Camden Lock Market. We felt it was only right to honour these beginnings as we celebrate our 25th year.
Introducing the Camden Collection. Featuring two signature Radley London handbags, reimagined with new colours and special-edition details.
The first is our iconic Pockets bag, a style we had to have as part of our birthday collection. As Lucy notes: “It’s one of our most recognisable, well-loved bags. It makes us so happy when we see women wearing it every day.”
So what’s new about our birthday edition? “We didn’t want to change too much on this beloved style. The painted cut edges add a fresh look, and we’ve returned to our heritage wider leather strap. Every bag in our Camden Collection will also feature our new, limited-edition Heirloom fob.”
The second bag in our Camden Collection is fashion-favourite, Summerstown. A bag that was an easy choice for Lucy and the Design Team. “To represent the decade the brand was born, what’s better than our ‘90s shoulder bag? It’s always a top pick by style insiders and has now been reimagined in all the amazing colours we see around London every day.”
Speaking of our new shades, we asked Lucy to tell us all about them.
“For our 25th birthday, we wanted to choose colours that we most associate with our city. There are landmark colours like Phone Box red and the soft blue of Tower Bridge, while the others have been inspired by the smaller quirks of our city.
“I used to live in Greenwich, where there’s a famous pie and mash shop that has a queue of people out the door every weekend. It’s painted in a deep green that’s so unique, we thought it perfectly represented those lesser-known spots that London locals love.”
VERY BRITISH LIVERPOOL STREET 2.0 MINIS
What do a London bus, a teapot and a swan have in common? They’re all part of our 25th birthday collection.
We asked Lucy how the Design Team came up with the idea for each of these playful styles.
“Mini bags were a Radley London staple when the brand first launched and they’re still on the catwalks today. This is the idea we started with, thinking about a range of mini collectibles that were also little pieces of art. After lots of fun brainstorming and sketching, we ended up with these little snippets of Britishness.”
Made using lots of signature craftsmanship techniques, these Anniversary Minis all feature leather appliqué, screen prints and foil embossing.
Our Designers had fun with the handles too. On our King’s Guard, they’re fluffy and inspired by bearskin hats, while those on our London bus are crafted with woven leather – a technique that’s so intricate, it takes over two hours to complete.
“To truly represent our brand we knew these special-edition designs had to be colourful, fun and involve some of our most iconic styles.”
With so much detailing, you won’t be surprised to hear that it takes our artisans up to 8 hours to make the front panel of just one of these mini bags. And they each come with a surprise foil slogan on the base.
Now for the hard part – picking a favourite. Although we think the Victoria Sponge cake is looking rather tasty.
A PICTURE BAG, REMASTERED
The ‘90s brought us the Spice Girls, Beanie Babies and the very first Radley London designs, including some of our first picture bags. To mark the special occasion, we’ve recreated one of these early editions from our archives.
“With up to 50 screen prints and appliqués, each picture bag really is a piece of art.”
Gnomes Remastered features the same fisherman scene, now with more refined leather appliqué, and refreshed colours. All brought to life by the same artisan partners who crafted it all those years ago.
“Over the years, our picture bags have evolved to be much more elaborate. Compared to the earliest editions, they now have many more intricate design elements. A good example is the diamanté sunglasses on our gnomes.
“The artisans who make our picture bags are exceptionally skilled in leather craft. These decorative bags take days to finish and can have up to 50 screen prints and appliqués, so each one really is a piece of art.”
The shape of the bag is slightly different too, as it’s now made with the three interior compartments. And yes, there’s a picture purse to match – a large flapover style with the same appliqué and prints.
These special-edition styles are only one of the ways we’re celebrating our 25th birthday. Head over to Radley Stories for more, as we look back at the past two decades and speak to the members of Team Radley who have made us who we are today. One of those is Zizi, our Creative Director, who tells us about her 20 years here. Cheers to us.