As fashion items go, perhaps the one piece that women appreciate and turn to more than any other is their handbag.
“You rely on it because it’s got your whole world it it, so it’s got to look good,” says Charlotte Lamb, founder and creative director of Yorkshire luxury accessories brand Lamb 1887.
Crafted in beautifully soft leather with classic meets contemporary, sleek, pared-back lines, plus the sort of fine detail that oozes quality and practicality, all finished with a chic little baby sheep logo, Lamb bags are aimed at hardworking stylish women – much like Charlotte herself.
She says, “I like to have a bag that I can wear to work but also take on a night out, but still feel great. When you say ‘practical’, people think ‘dowdy’, but it’s not, it’s the opposite – something that works for women who have really busy, hectic lives.
“Even if they’re not really loving their outfit that day, they can just pick up their bag and feel fantastic, or go to a restaurant, and it lifts up the rest of your outfit, but it’s got everything you need in there, your laptop or your iPad, all your bits and pieces. It’s about flexibility for me.”
Not surprisingly, Lamb 1887 bags have been attracting an impressively fashionable celebrity following, spotted with Pippa Middleton, Cheryl Cole, Michelle Keegan, Rosie Fortescue, Diana Vickers, Laura Whitmore, Millie Mackintosh, Lucy Mecklenburgh, Fearne Cotton and many others, although TV presenter Holly Willoughby is one of Charlotte’s favourites. “She really suits the Lamb brand. That working woman, working mum who likes to be fashionable, so wants something that’s practical and works for everyday life.”
Celebrity endorsement has played a key role in the development of Lamb 1887, not just because of paparazzi snaps in the mainstream media, but also because of social media.
Often, she says, customers will come straight to Lamb’s website after spotting a bag on the Instagram of a favourite celebrity.
Lamb 1887 was founded five years ago by Charlotte, who is also accessories and brand director for her family business William Lamb Group, a fourth generation Yorkshire-based leather company which makes footwear and other goods for a range of top companies. Her great-grandfather established the business as a small workshop in Bottomboat, Wakefield, in 1887, making wooden-soled clogs with leather uppers for workers in West Yorkshire pits and woollen mills.
Charlotte grew up in Walton, near Wakefield, and studied at Oxford University before training and practising as a lawyer in London for seven years. But leather must be in the blood, and Charlotte took the plunge and developed her love of handbags by designing her own, with the help of expertise on hand in the family business, and inspired by her father, Stuart Lamb.
She looks after William Lamb’s accessories side, which makes bags for the likes of Whistles, Cotswold Collections and Hackett, and also manages relationships with companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon and Hasbro, for whom William Lamb produces licensed products such as children’s bags and shoes.
Lamb 1887 has recently had a brand refresh, and broadened its range. Charlotte says: “We found that what our customers seemed to like from us most of all is our tote bags and our clutch bags, so we’ve gone into those more heavily, but kept the middle sized bags as well, the cross bodies and the wallets and the smaller items.”
Lamb bags are made in China. Stocked in House of Fraser and in Browns Yorkshire stores, spring/summer ‘16 features the new Jet Set Collection, in particular a new weekend bag, in accordance with hundreds of customer requests. There’s a beach bag coming too and some cheaper price points for those who cannot afford to spend £200 or so on a handbag. There also might be a shoe range coming, so watch this space.
As well as making more links with department stores, Charlotte is also developing the digital side of the business. “In today’s world, if you’re not fully up on your digital marketing, you’re missing out,” she says, adding that in 2017/18, the plan is to look overseas, targeting the US and the Far East and potentially Australia.
Charlotte, who married Fergus, a lawyer, 18 months ago, splits her time living between London and Wakefield. She spends a lot of time travelling – with a practically stylish Lamb bag, of course.
Lamb 1887 bags are available at www.lamb1887.com and at Browns, House of Fraser and other stockists.
Photographer: Craig Rodgers of CJ Rodgers Photography
Hair & Make Up: Anna Stephenson
Model: Logan Gray
Location: The Victorian Conservatory & Gardens at Wentworth Castle Gardens, Barnsley.