For a long time now I’ve wanted a new handbag, not just because I am inundated with the latest lust-worthy handbag imagery day in and day out as part of my job, but because my ‘daily go-to’ Louis Vuitton Neverfull is falling apart. It’s seven years old, so maybe I shouldn’t begrudge the fact that the canvas has torn on the outside where I’ve overused the inside pocket (was the inside pocket for decoration? Was it my fault for using it?!) but it was the price that put me off replacing it.
In seven years the price of the Neverfull has doubled, and to replace the exact same handbag would now cost me £710. I can’t easily justify spending £710 on a *canvas* bag, especially one that is now so widely counterfeited that you can even buy knock-off copycat versions on Oxford Street.
But the real crux of the issue (IT WAS A BIG ISSUE) was that I wanted a personalised bag this time around. I wanted my new initials on whatever my new handbag would be, proudly emblazoned so that it was clear the bag was MINE. I’m #smugmarried and I can’t help it.
You can get LV Neverfulls monogrammed, but that sets you back £970. NEARLY ONE THOUSAND POUNDS. I’m proud to be Mrs Taylor these days but not that proud, hah!
Then I remembered a trip I had taken a couple of years ago to the Tusting factory. I love Tusting, their leather bags are gorgeous, functional and, better still, they are proudly manufactured in England. Founded in 1875 and now a fifth-generation family business, Tusting is still based in the pretty village of Lavendon, Buckinghamshire. I remember being told on my last trip that a third of the staff walk to work.
Having been to the factory before, I was pretty certain they’d be able to monogram something….and a quick check of their website proved me right. Not only could you get products personalised, this process only costs £35. Obviously this seemed just a tad more reasonable than the £250+ mark-up from LV. Granted, it’s a lot less labour intensive to monogram by embossing rather than painting….but embossing lasts forever where painting suffers wear and tear.
I also had a general confidence in Tusting because of my experience with their products. I first came across the brand in 2009 at Grand Designs Live (bizarrely!) when I was still working in property. My parents and I fell in love with their leathers and tweeds and we (or rather they, I can’t pretend I contributed to this family purchase) promptly bought two of their stunning handmade sofas. I know their customer service is second to none, because my mother still pesters them with cat related enquiries six years on.
I’ve got a bespoke wash-bag from them too which I have used as my make-up bag for three years and it still looks fabulous, despite the fact it’s been dragged all around the world and is constantly getting wet by the bathroom sink…
And it was my washbag that actually inspired me to go for a bespoke option again for my handbag. I knew I wanted a big and smart bag so their Kimbolton would be perfect, and I’d already fallen in love with this style three years ago…
So that is what I went for yesterday at the factory! Albeit a slightly different version…
I wanted to play with the colours and I was THRILLED to find out that Tusting were happy to help me create my ‘vision’ (hah!), but I want to point out that this wasn’t a one-off thing they did as a special treat for me with my blogger hat on. They make a lot of bespoke bags, so this is a ‘real service’ available to all customers for an extra charge. Of course, it’s not normal to go to the factory and get in the way/have a go at helping (I definitely wasn’t helping) but the beauty of their style of production means that bespoke wishes can nearly always be fulfilled.
I could show you forty million pictures from my day at the factory, but I have tried to narrow it down to just a few…as I know you probably just want to scroll down and see my finished bag!
We started with the leathers and cutting knives…
The leather was cut and then embossed with my snazzy new initials…
Before the talented folk who *actually know what they’re doing* assembled the main structure of the bag…
As you can see above, I opted for a colour clash (hell yes!) with orange handles.
But I didn’t realise I was going to hammer the handles on msyelf!
Luckily I had William Tusting himself on hand to guide me and he promised I couldn’t actually ruin the handbag. Hmmmmm!
And then, having realised I was quite frightened of hammers but very much in love with my beautiful Kimbolton, it was time for a final inspection…
All bags go through a thorough inspection before shipping, so it won’t make it into a dust bag if it’s not perfect!
There was a lot of pressure at this point 🙂
But she passed!
And here she is in all her glory…
We then celebrated the best way I know how, with champagne, sandwiches and cheese. YES!
Of course, I made the mistake of going to the showroom after and now have a Tusting wishlist as long as my arm.
Their new Fitzroy (£470) is a thing of beauty…
And look at it in nude!
The Kimbolton that I went for comes in lots of colours, from classic caramel to navy to raspberry and they’re all £375. You can see the range here.
Oh and if you’re anything like me then you’ll want to know if this style can sit on your shoulder – AND YES IT CAN. You don’t have to always carry it by hand or on the crook of your elbow, which is always a deal breaker for me when it comes to everyday practical bags. I can fit my laptop in it too! And there are inside pockets!
I love the magnetic closures too which already makes it feel a lot ‘safer’ for commuting with than my Neverfull, which anyone can reach inside and rummage around in easily.
It’s a great bag, from a great British company, and I love it very very much!
Thank you so much Tusting for making my vision come to life! But you have been warned, I’ll be back for a suitcase next!