Yorkshire handbag brand Lamb 1887 is gaining a celebrity following. Founder Charlotte Lamb talks to Stephanie Smith.
Pippa Middleton and Cheryl Cole have been spotted with one. So have Michelle Keegan, Rosie Fortescue, Diana Vickers, Laura Whitmore and Fearne Cotton. Lamb 1887 bags are hot and, following the success of UK heritage brands Mulberry and Burberry, they are tipped to become the next big thing.
Crafted from the softest leathers in classic-meets-contemporary, luxe-detail designs teamed with a gorgeous palette of neutrals and seasonal colour pops, the bags are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the out, each lined with luxurious suede, such is the quality of workmanship.
The brand was founded three years ago by Charlotte Lamb, who was born to make handbags. She is heir to William Lamb Footwear, a fourth-generation Yorkshire-based leather empire for which which she is accessories and brand manager, as well as now creative director for Lamb 1887.
She says: “My great-grandfather established a small workshop in Bottomboat, Wakefield, in 1887, to make wooden-soled clogs with leather uppers for workers in West Yorkshire pits and woollen mills.”
Charlotte grew up in the village of Walton, near Wakefield, and currently splits her time living between London and Yorkshire, where her studio and offices are based.
“I feel lucky to be able to get the best of both worlds – although it does mean I feel like I spend my life on trains.”
She studied at Oxford University before training and practising as a lawyer in London for seven years. She says: “I spent years working in the city looking for the perfect practical, super luxury, on-trend handbag that didn’t break the bank, but to no avail. I decided to design and create my own range to fit into the busy working women’s lifestyle.”
After the seed was sown, it was only a matter of time before it blossomed. “I really enjoyed working as a lawyer, but moving into the family business and working in fashion was something that I felt I really must do, otherwise I would regret never giving it a go. It was a scary move for me.”
Her first bag was called The Ravello, a purple leather shoulder bag with a chain and leather entwined strap. “I love it because the design is very simple and chic – it really epitomised what Lamb 1887 was all about – quality materials, quality craftsmanship and simple classic design.”
Charlotte admits that she has had no formal training as a designer. “Some of the time I feel very out of my depth, but in terms of the brand, a lot of it has to do with vision, and I manage to muddle through in terms of the technical design aspects. I am lucky to be able to work with designers in our business who are very experienced and they have helped me to translate my visions into designs and patterns.”
Charlotte and the four-strong Lamb 1887 team work from a studio in the same location where the family business was started in 1887.
“The design process takes quite a long time,” she says. “I gather ideas and materials over period of a few months, and then I sit down with my co-designer and we plan our collection together for the coming season. After that we create the designs to send to the factory for sample production, which we then review and tweak before selecting the final pieces for the collection.
She says: “Lamb 1887 handbags are made in the Far East and are crafted from the softest leather carefully sourced from the highest quality tanneries across the globe.”
New for this season is the Cote D’Azur Collection, with lovely summer pieces such as the bright orange and bright yellow Cap Ferrat clutches. There is also a Signature collection, which rolls over popular styles season on season, including the Joanna tote, which has been snapped with Pippa Middleton and Michelle Keegan, and the Audrey clutch, as carried by Millie Mackintosh and Laura Whitmore.
The key factor to Lamb 1887’s success, says Charlotte, lies in the classic styling, which is on-trend but also works across seasons. “We want to grow Lamb 1887 into a global brand – we are actually exhibiting in Paris in July, so we are already taking steps in that direction, which is very exciting,” she says.
Charlotte says that her greatest inspiration and influence has been her father, Stuart Lamb. “He is my mentor and I have incredible respect for him,” she says. “He has grown the family business from humble beginnings into a successful international footwear and accessories business, by working extremely hard, being brave, strategic and incredibly determined.”
Sounds like Charlotte is a chip off the old (leather) block.
• All bags are available at www.lamb1887.com and the range is also stocked at Accent Clothing in Leeds, Pookie in Silkstone and Harrogate, Kenzi in York, Coco Boutique in Ilkley, and Pure Urban in Sheffield.