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Radley Stories

Craft & Design at Radley London

Handcrafted by Artisans

24 August 2022

Six months before a collection launches

FROM LONDON TO INDIA

It’s time for our artisan craftspeople to begin production. This happens in and around Kolkata, West Bengal. A beautiful city with a vibrant culture of music, dance, celebration and food. 

We’ve worked with the same partners for decades. In some cases, over 35 years. (We officially became Radley London in 1998, but we’ve been making handbags for even longer.)  

Martyn, our Head of Technical, Supply and Product Development is a regular visitor.

“From pattern cutters and seamstresses to edge painters and screen printers, it can take as many as 20 skilled artisans to handmake just one Radley London bag. 
  • They grade leather by hand touch and feel. Assessing every grain for the highest quality

  • They can feel even the slightest nuances in the natural material and know exactly how to best handle it throughout the manufacturing process

  • It’s all about attention to detail and years of experience that’s handed down from one artisan to the next

When the lights go off, the shutters come down and a working day draws to its end, we enjoy conversation and amazing local food. Time has allowed us to build true friendships.”
 
Did you know?
There are 36 individual pieces of leather in every single Liverpool Street 2.0 medium multiway bag.

A SELECTION OF SKILLS

It will take an artisan worker around 24 hours to complete a bag like Baylis Road 2.0 medium multiway. This is a whistle-stop tour of the skills it takes years to master

  • Cutting, splitting and skiving of the leather

  • Individual piece cutting

  • Edge inking of the individual parts  

  • Assembling the pieces

  • Stitching the beautiful finished bag

THE EXPERTISE BEHIND OUR MOST-LOVED DESIGNS

Our picture bags are collectibles for a reason. The Design Team kickstart the process.

“It starts with our main theme of the season. It’s very collaborative as well, the whole team contribute ideas. Once we have that strong idea, then it’s time to think about the layers, playing around with artisan techniques to create depth.” 

Picture bags can be made up of over 100 individual screen prints and appliqué pieces. And that’s before counting techniques like the metallic foiling and hand-crafted leather whipstitching too. So you can imagine how many days and how many skilled craftspeople it takes to make. Any guesses? It can be up to seven days, and eight artisans.

GET TO KNOW ONE OF THE TEAM

Meet Gour, who has been honing his skills since he started as an artisan assistant in 1984.

“I had no idea that I was to become part of a great iconic story with Radley London.
“It was in the year 2000 when I got introduced to the concept of ‘picture bags’. At first it seemed an impossible task but as I went about creating the incredible detail of the graphic story, I developed a passion for it. I suddenly started discovering my hidden talents. This passion drove me for many years and continues to this day.
“Today looking back, I feel proud in having helped to create so many different designs of the unique Radley London picture bags since the year 2000. May I stake claim to the title of ‘The hands behind the Radley picture bags’?”

SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT

Every person within our supply chain, regardless of gender, sexual or religious orientation or belief is treated equally. With the same wages, the same management and support across our partners. Our Audit programme supports this and is reported on yearly so we have visibility across our network. Find out more about how we work with our Partners.

CLICK TO SEE THE FINAL STEP IN CREATING OUR HANDBAGS