Crafting leather goods that return British design to the forefront of the world stage
It takes at least five years to fully train an Ettinger craftsperson – almost as long as it takes to train a brain surgeon. Each product requires around 50 stages to be fully mastered, this attention to detail in part explains why Ettinger has been the go-to British luxury leather goods manufacturer for over eight decades.
Ettinger has come a long way since Gerry Ettinger – the father of the current CEO, Robert – set aside a successful film career, working with cinematic stars such as Marlene Dietrich, to pursue a career in luxury gifts. At a time when international travel was still considered exotic, Gerry used his extensive contacts in Europe (not to mention his ability to speak five different languages fluently) to manage an international clientele. Quality and innovation were put at the heart of his company from day one, and before long Ettinger products graced the shelves of leading London department stores, including Harrods, Asprey and Fortnum & Mason.
After a short pause during the war, Gerry returned to London to reinvigorate his business and, with the growth in international trade, demand for his products increased rapidly. Such was Ettinger’s success that Gerry acquired a London manufacturer renowned for its leather luggage, in an area where once many similar businesses had thrived.
Gerry’s passion never faltered and he continued to run the company well into his 80s, before handing over to his eldest son, Robert, in 1990. Robert has continued the tradition of craftsmanship and quality but also added fresh designs and collections, not to mention developing the business internationally.
In 1996 the company was appointed with the Royal Warrant of HRH the Prince of Wales. And, this year, Ettinger celebrates its 20th anniversary as a Royal Warrant holder for small leather goods.
Eventually, with the business rapidly outgrowing Ettinger’s central London premises, production moved to the Midlands – the traditional seat of leather goods manufacturing – where Ettinger acquired one of Walsall’s oldest leather goods manufacturers, James Homer Ltd.
And while the notion of making products that are made to last might be traditional compared to the pace of modern consumerism, the company’s timeless designs feel as current today as they did 82 years ago, a point proven at Ettinger’s debut at London Collections Men in June 2016. Don’t miss them as they return this year to the designer showrooms attended by fashion buyers, influential press and the sartorially savvy.
The skill of Ettinger’s craftsmen has been recognised by the UK government’s GREAT Britain campaign. Working with Savile Row shoemaker, Gaziano & Girling, they have produced a one-of-a-kind Masterpiece portfolio that will tour the world for a year as part of the Great Creations Exhibition – a 21st-century incarnation of The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851, which propelled British design to the forefront of the world. Their painstaking artistry also caught the eye of residential design studio Echlin, which called in bags, frames and accessories to kit out its Holland Park property Kenure House.
Today, Ettinger is firmly at the heart of British leather goods manufacturing, with elegant style that is imbued with typical English flair. Living up to the strapline, ‘to each their own’, many of their products can be personalised and there is even a bespoke corporate gift service, which conveys all the credentials of a reputable British manufacturer onto any gift.
In the end, it comes down to the experience. When you touch an Ettinger product, you can almost feel the history, you can see the quality and you know that you’re holding a thing of beauty. But to see it is to believe it: visitors are always welcome, by appointment, to the showroom in London to experience the special world of Ettinger.
ETTINGER 215 PUTNEY BRIDGE ROAD, LONDON SW15 2NY +44 (0)20 8877 1616