We’ve come a long way since starting our handbag journey in Camden Market in the midst of the 1980s. While our passion for colour and luxurious leathers paved the way, the success of Radley London is really the result of strong behind-the-scenes relationships.
In celebration of London Craft Week – a yearly festival honouring outstanding creativity, passion and skill from around the world – we’re exploring the deep-rooted connections at every step of our crafting process, from initial research to the final product.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Busy! I’m involved in the creation of all Radley London products so that means lots of creative brainstorms with both the design team and across the wider business. I like to meet with the designers as much as possible during the day to help guide and discuss our ideas. Our team works very closely together so that we deliver a cohesive collection each season – we’re all very passionate about our roles and love to have fun as well!
CHOOSING A COLLECTION’S COLOUR PALETTE IN ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS IN THE CRAFTING PROCESS. HOW DO YOU DECIDE THIS?
Colour is an intrinsic part of our brand DNA and we work with trend forecasters to develop our palette – this ensures customers can enjoy the relevant trends and colours at the time our products hit the stores. It’s never just a colour – meticulous matching and honing happens until we’re entirely happy with our choices and know that every colour will work well.
The colour depth on every leather is assessed throughout the design, development and production process. At key stages, the intensity of colour depth is graded and inspected until we have a shade of leather we’re truly delighted with.
HOW DO YOU SELECT THE BEST MATERIAL TO USE?
As well as our own technical and product development teams, we work directly with longstanding partner suppliers to select and translate the best materials for every design. We’re really particular when deciding on leathers – all of our hides are chosen for their performance, handle and their touch and feel.
We also select leathers to suit certain needs; for example, we’ll choose firmer leathers for workwear accessories and soft, supple leathers for pleated styling. With every material, we strive to maintain the highest quality possible.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH DESIGNING FOR CHARITY AND AMBASSADOR COLLABORATIONS?
We work very closely with all our partners, from Dogs Trust to Johanna Konta and Royal Ascot. Before anything else, we take time to really listen to what they want in a product and how they envisage the colour palette. We then work from that base, checking in with them during the process for feedback.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED WORKING IN THE CURRENT PANDEMIC?
Working remotely has been a new world for everyone and we, along with the wider business, had to adjust very quickly to keep our functions moving along to tight time constraints. We had to learn to be more agile and work even more closely as a team; communication has been vital. Together, we’ve faced and overcome a number of new challenges – now we’re looking forward to working in a new way as we slowly come out of the restrictive world.
DO YOU SEE THE CRAFTING PROCESS CHANGING IN THE FUTURE?
We’ll need to adapt further as travel restrictions lift. While travel is a huge part of our roles in both research and development, our fantastic workforce has worked through the pandemic tirelessly and virtually uninterrupted! We’re continuing to adjust so we can move forward with our exciting projects.
HOW DO YOU STAY DRIVEN AT THIS TIME?
The love of the creative process – and the fact I get to work with great people to craft beautiful products for our loyal customers! I love that our brand is constantly evolving to be the best that we can be and that my team are at the very starting point of that. We’re always adapting, looking and moving. I love to stay curious and I get to look at amazing product and designs everyday – what’s not to love?