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The Artisan's Blog

Partner Spotlight - Annie Mackay of Crotal Harris Tweed

Here at Sam Brown London, we have a straightforward ethos. We create goods of outstanding quality, made with passion and attention to detail.   

Tradition and quality are important to us. So when we look for partners, we look for businesses that approach their work in the same way. The materials we use to make our products must have provenance, and showcase the very best craftsmanship the UK has to offer. 

This means the relationships we have with our partners are the very best.

Our Leather Bags 

The components that make up our leather bag collection are all sourced in a very particular way.   

Our leather is cured using traditional methods in one of the last traditional tanneries in the UK.  

Our thread is hand-woven in Northern Ireland and our buckles are created using sand casting, an old technique that is almost extinct due to competition from high yield, low-quality machine processes. 

The components are strong and they are crafted with excellence in mind. Our job is to bring them together in a contemporary way that does justice to the quality of the materials while ensuring these ancient techniques are given a new lease of life.   

So, when we looked for fabric to create linings for our bags, we had to ensure they were both classic and contemporarydurable and stylish.   

Really, there was only one place to go.   

The Isle of Harris 

Long before the industrial revolution transformed Britain, islanders in the Outer Hebrides, in the far North West of Scotland, were manufacturing cloth entirely by hand.  

Harris Tweed, as it became known, is made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. As the popularity of this fine cloth grew, so did the number of manufacturers. Eventually, the creation of ‘Harris Tweed’ spread to the mainland where, as usual with mass production, quality dipped in an effort to create as much wealth from the industry as possible.   

The islanders were outraged that their traditional craftsmanship was being diluted and inferior products were being passed off as their work. So they worked together to create the Orb Trade Mark, to ensure customers know when they’re buying fabric made in the Outer Hebrides. They are therefore guaranteed the quality of wool and craftsmanship that is required of true Harris Tweed.  

Annie Mackay 

Our esteemed partner, Annie Mackay of Crotal Harris Tweed works within the principles of the cottage industry where Harris Tweed began. In her home-workshop, Annie spins to life the most dazzling combination of colours, weaving with the deftness of Arachne to produce herringbone patterns that are genuine works of art.   

Annie spins orange and chocolate brown, pink and cerise, and sky blue and navy patterns that reflect the colours of the seasons, the colours of the Outer Hebrides. Every time you open one of our bags you are transported to these magical isles.  

Annie's work has tradition firmly at its heart, pouring passion and creative flair into every sheet of fabric she creates. The name "Crotal" is the Gaelic name for the lichen that grows on stones and rocks and was traditionally used for dyeing the wool. This name connects a very modern business firmly to its ancient roots.   

We are so proud to work with genuine traditional craftspeople like Annie. We love to support her as she helps to preserve techniques that needed no technological innovation to make them great, just a gentle refinement of crafts that have been practised for hundreds of years.  

Its a joy to help promote the work of people who create beautiful, hard-wearing, long-lasting traditional goods.   

You can find out more about Annie and Crotal Harris Tweed by visiting her website. 

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Excited about getting back on the old saddle again!

Excited about getting back on the old saddle again!

Here we all are at the beginning of April 2021 and although our workshops have been much quieter as you would expect, we have managed to stay busy either making the on line orders which have been our saviour or looking really hard at what we do and reworking it. 



Generally we are constantly looking at what we do with a view to update and improve where we can. This time down period has given us far too long to scrutinize the range! As a result we have added several new styles in belts and reworked the bag range in its entirety adding two styles. The raw edge bags in particular sold exceptionally well in 2019 but we didnt expand it at the time, the new updated versions have been reworked to reduce the weight considerably with the new traveller bag benefitting the most by an increase in internal space of 50% whist reducing weight by 10%. We have also found a UK company who weave surplus wool, generally called dead stock, from manufacturers into the most beautiful palette of tweeds for our liners. Prices across the range have come down a little as its slightly easier to make which has to be good news and of course anything which saves on the environment is a huge bonus.

Luxury  British made leather compact travel bag in tan and dark brown by Sam Brown London

Buckles, buckles, buckles..they are ours, gets your sticky mitts off! We are lucky enough to be able to make the buckle element of what we do which is part of our casting background. When we first started all those years ago we sold to some really high end indies over the UK who focused on a tight selection of what we made so much of the other work was shelved. We have decided to re work some of these style, recast and see what the reaction will be especially with our overseas client base. Have also decided to bring the Sterling Silver range back which we will showcase at RHS Chelsea in September 2021, this will include three buckles where we have not compromised at all on the amount of Sterling silver used. It is without doubt a beautiful thing to wear, pure luxury and everything about it screams quality.

Solid English sterling silver hallmarked designed and made by Sam Brown London Leather belt and bag makers

So, in a couple of weeks we will be packing up and driving over to Greenwich Makers Market (24th & 25th April) for the first time in nearly a year and after that its go go go with pop up shops in John Lewis & Partners, Kingston at the beginning of May (3rd to 9th May) and our usual Sunday slot at Kew Village Makers Market (2nd May).  We are all in nervous anticipation, its a bit like going back to school after a very long exeat. Wish us luck!

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One Year On – Thank you from Anthony and Colette

One Year On – Thank you from Anthony and Colette

It’s incredible to think it’s a year since we first went into lockdown. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of our customers and friends who have stood by us this year. It’s been a tough year for everyone. Let’s continue to support heritage crafts here in the UK. And I hope we can meet face-to-face again soon.

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Happy Valentine’s Day – With love from Anthony and Colette

Happy Valentine’s Day – With love from Anthony and Colette

We really can’t believe that Valentine's Day is just around the corner. One of our saviours during COVID has been our ability to escape into a world of making at our workshops near Devizes, we can lose days designing and sampling new products and because we have had time on our hands, we’ve been particularly productive. Feel free to dip into our products for that special Valentine’s gift... 

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Ideal Christmas Gifts from Sam Brown London

The festive period is rolling around again. We
’re all waiting with bated breath to see what kind of celebrations are going to be allowed. After the year we’ve had, one thing’s for sure, we’re ready to spoil ourselves this Christmas! 

Every year igets tougher to buy something unique for our nearest and dearest, something that brings genuine pleasure. So, were here to help you with Sam Brown London gift ideas that will bring joy as soon as they are opened and keep doing so for many years to come.  

Give the Gift of Craftsmanship 

Everything on this list has been handmade by a craftsman or craftswoman who loves what they do. Someone who is passionate about getting every stitch perfect, who wants to create products that will stand the test of time.  

Everything on this list is created in our workshop in the UK, using the best quality British materials. Our products are sustainable, made with love, and built to last.  

Choose a Sam Brown London gift and your special someone will smell and feel the quality as soon as they unwrap it. They’ll know that they have not been given just another thing, but a gift to treasure. And don’t forget, you can make their gift unique by choosing the colours and materials they would like.  

Belts for Every Day, Belts for Business 

Classic Jean Belt - £99 

Buying someone a belt might feel one step away from buying socks, but these are not just belts, they are trusted companions that will stick by you for a very long time. 

These 4mm thick, handcrafted belts are made from ‘honest leather,’ cured using traditional methods in one of the last traditional tanneries in the UK. They are stitched with hand-woven thread and can be customised to suit your personal taste.  

Choose the colour of leather, the colour of the stitching, and the perfect metal buckle to set it all off.  

Business Belt - £95 

The business belt is a slimmer belt, sporting cleaner lines and an elegant, polished nickel buckle that is perfect for business or dress wear.  

Again, this belt can be customised and comes in several colours of leather. It’s available with a wide variety of stitching colours to ensure this 3.8mm thick belt is perfect for your loved one.  

Bespoke Leather Bags 

The Soho Bag - £445 

This is the perfect sized bag for taking around town. Tablets, notebooks and all your everyday gear fits brilliantly. 

Made with 2.8mm English bridle leather, this durable bag looks stunning, and is only going to improve with age. The detachable cross-body strap, Harris Tweed lining, and brass fittings ensure the perfect blend of durability and style.  

With interior pockets and zipped main body, this beautiful bag will protect your gear no matter what the weather throws at it.   

English Leather Briefcase - £675 

This custom-made leather briefcase is the ultimate in business chic. Made from a combination of smooth English bridle leather and 2.8mm thick natural grain leather, plus there is a durable handle and an additional detachable leather cross-body strap.  

On the inside, a choice of classic Harris Tweed herringbone linings complements the internal pockets designed to take phones, notepads, and pens. 

Stylish, durable, and hand-crafted to create a completely individual look, these are the coolest briefcases on the market.  

Accessorize with style 

Personal Hygiene Mask - £16 

This year’s must-have accessory needn’t be disposable, grim-looking or uncomfortable.  

Sam Brown London has created a range of stylish face coverings from durable, double-layered woven cotton, with an aluminium strip inside to perfectly mould to your face.  

Durable press-studs mean that should your wearer have a goatee or beard, the mask can be easily adjusted for maximum comfort. Stay safe, with style! 

Durability for Dog Lovers 

Classic Dog Collar - £29 

Give your pooch a collar thats built to last this year, with our Classic Dog Collars.  

Made with English bridle leather and fastened with solid, British-made brass or nickel fittings, you can customise the materials to give your canine companion something that looks really smart 

With a variety of leather colours, fittings, widths, and sizes, youll get the ultimate in design, durability, and sustainability as you adorn your doggie’s neck with a collar made with love.  

Classic Dog Lead - £79 

If youre going for the collar, then why not go all-in with our classic dog lead as well? Created with the same dedication to precision and craftsmanship, these durable bridle leather leads ensure comfort for your canine friend. 

You can visit our full range of handcrafted, customisable goods at 

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Should I pay more for a classic man's leather bag?

Should I pay more for a classic man's leather bag?

The desire for leather bags has been growing for the last couple of decades. Most major fashion brands have a leather bag for sale. But there are leather bags for £40 and similar-looking leather bags for £400. Whats the difference? 

Leather Quality 

The main difference between a quality bag and a cheap one is the leather itself. Many animal hides are used to make leather, and each has a different quality. You might find a lovely looking leather bag at the lower end of the price spectrum but it’s likely that it was made from goat leather. Now, no offence to goats – those wonderful makers of milk, cheese, and mischief – but when it comes to leather... they’re not so great.   

Soft leathers like goat, mass-tanned on a production line, produce low-quality bags. Your straps will stretch, your leather will stain, and the desired weathered look will never appear.   

Only by touching an artisan leather bag will you be able to tell the difference. The thickness of the leather, the feel of it, the smell of it. You’ll know instinctively that this is something that will last. And if you can’t touch it before purchase, use a merchant you trust, who can prove the provenance of the leather.  

At Sam Brown London, we only use leather that is tanned in the UK using traditional methods. Our ‘honest leather’ is cured slowly, the way it always has been, to ensure a solid, quality leather that improves with age. Thick, English bridle leather is used in all our artisan leather bags to ensure quality that lasts.   

Fixtures and fittings 

In addition to using the finest leather, a premium bag will also have other quality components. To many manufacturers, stitching is just a necessity, which is why you see so many lower-price leather bags literally coming apart at the seams. Thread spun by machines at speed might help bring the cost of your leather bag down, but its not going to help with longevity.   

Your thread and buckles take the strain when you load up a bag and sling it over your shoulder. Without strength in these components, youre likely to get bent buckle pins, thread coming away at the seams, and discolouration.   

Likewise, lining a leather bag appears to be an afterthought for many producers. Some don’t even bother, even though lining adds additional durability, flair and colour. It also helps protect the goods in the bag, and the leather from the goodsMany bags have linings made from cheap material, easily stained and torn, ruining your bag from the inside out. 

When we create a Sam Brown London bag, we are dedicated to using components with craftsmanship in every tiny detail. Our waxed thread is handwoven in Ireland for additional durability, our buckles are sand-cast in the UK, with metals to suit your personal look, and our linings are traditional Harris Tweed from Scotland or lovingly crafted Irish Linen.  

Customised Artisan Leather Bags from the UK 

While using the very best components is key to the quality of every Sam Brown London bag, the additional value comes from making the bag to your specification.   

When you choose one of our traditional leather bags, you decide what goes into it. We customise every bag to suit your desires. You pick the colour of the leather and which thread you would like to highlight it. You decide which metal the buckles should be made from and the lining you preferOf course, we’re here to help and advise! 

Its easy to pick up a low-end leather bag, but its not going to last or age with you and youre likely to see the same bag ten times a day on someone else’s shoulder. A quality custom-made leather bag is an extension of you.  

Buy an artisan leather bag that will age with you, a product like no other that youre proud to own and love to use. Visit Sam Brown London and start creating your perfect artisan leather bag today. 

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The Return to Traditional Craftsmanship

The world is changing. Consumers want different things today than they did 5 years ago. You can see it in the current trend towards more sustainable products and traditional techniques. We have a duty to look back, to find what worked when our planet and local economies were in a much better state.

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The life of a leather belt

The life of a leather belt

A quality belt is something that everyone needs. Often overlooked in the spectrum of accessories, the trusty belt protects us from embarrassing catastrophe. A belt should be something you trust. A faithful companion through your daily life. How long should a belt last?

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What Makes Sam Brown London Different?

What Makes Sam Brown London Different?

Everything we create comes from a fusion of skill and passion to produce bespoke leather goods whose every meticulous refinement you can feel and whose quality permeates your olfactory senses.

Our journey started by creating the best jeans belt in the world. A belt you can trust. An honest leather belt.

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