As a London brand with premium craftsmanship at our heart, we’re celebrating London Craft Week – a yearly festival showcasing the very best of international creativity – by welcoming you into our London Design Studio. It’s here that our team of talented designers create all of your favourite handbags and accessories.
Sleek cardholders to signature tote bags, every style we make takes the same journey. Accessories are designed conceptually at first – seasonal trends are researched and colour palettes determined – before the finer details and artistry come into play.
We caught up with our Head of Design, Zizi, to see how she designs every accessory to stand the test of time.
Did you know?
From initial sketch to final stitch, the creation process for Radley London handbags and accessories takes a year to complete.
MEET OUR HEAD OF DESIGN
Having designed for Radley London since the very beginning, Zizi leads our team of eight designers, bringing decades of experience to the creation process.
She’s central to the production of every product and is responsible for iconic styles such as Liverpool Street and Pockets– which just happen to be two of our favourites. Her first design? ‘I can’t remember, there’s been too many since then!’
Below, Zizi talks inspiration, her favourite future handbags and the most rewarding parts of her job.
FOR YOU, WHAT MAKES A GREAT HANDBAG?
Quality craftsmanship, attention to detail and amazing design both inside and out. The size, colour and shape are obviously important, but the handbag has to work with my needs in my life at that time.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM?
We gather inspiration from all over; international catwalks, social media, trend forecasting agencies, exhibitions, the diversity of London and the women we see when we’re out and about. For planning and research, the team and I travel to key markets in the UK and internationally to see what other brands are creating in fashion, accessories, homeware, gifting and jewellery. We soak it all in, bring it back with us and share our findings and inspiration. We’re never lost for ideas – quite the reverse in fact!
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE COLOUR PALETTE?
Firstly, we look into the colour predictions that trend forecasters publish a year to two years in advance. We want to make sure our customers can enjoy the relevant trends and colours at the time our products hit the stores, but we also know through experience and intuition, what colours work better in certain leathers.
We then predict the colours our customers will want to wear and work on the palette for several weeks, adjusting and honing our choices before working the colours into our prints to ensure they’re harmonious.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MATERIAL TO WORK WITH?
All our materials! If I don’t personally like the leather, we don’t progress a look – we have to love all of our materials to realise our designs. If I had to choose one, it would be our soft, full grain leather; it takes our gorgeous colours beautifully and has texture and character. We work very closely with our partner suppliers and our own Technical and Product Development Teams to select and translate the best materials for the designs that we imagine.
FOR YOU, WHICH IS THE KEY TREND OF AW20?
AW20 has seen a rise in the retro trend and colour usage so I love the nostalgic feel to the season. Small ’90s-style shoulder bags are becoming increasingly important, along with versatile bags that take us from the sofa to work, the gym or the supermarket. Our lifestyles have dramatically altered and I love that fashion quickly adapts to the changes that we’re all becoming accustomed to.
AND YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE FROM OUR AUTUMN COLLECTION?
The Liverpool Street 2.0; I designed the original Liverpool Street so to be part of the reimagined version has been very exciting. This style has everything – outstanding quality, contemporary styling, beautiful leathers and all the same functionality of the original. Its versatility remains too, so it looks great in both casual and more formal settings.
THERE ARE LOTS OF EXCITING PROJECTS COMING UP. WHAT’RE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?
Our Radley Remastered projects! I’ve been part of the brand from the beginning so it’s exciting to revisit Radley London’s huge archive of amazing styles and reimagine some of the best-loved pieces with more contemporary styling. We’re also having fun playing with our iconic pup and his new friends on our upcoming picture bags!
WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?
I love my job and, even though I’ve been with the brand for a long time, I still feel lucky to be doing something that I enjoy so much. I love the whole process of initial research to final product and delight in seeing our designers progress and watch their designs come to life, realising the importance of their part in the bigger picture. My team are as passionate as I am about our product and ideals – we all work hard to deliver exceptional, beautiful products that we love ourselves.
ANY TIPS FOR BUDDING DESIGNERS?
Hone your skills; work hard on your portfolio to showcase where your passion lies and, where possible, aim for some work experience to build your knowledge, confidence and skills. Stay curious and passionate and have fun!