Boldly British all the way through, family-run Ettinger London has been in the business of creating elegant leather goods for over 80 years. In 1996, in recognition of the work carried out for the Royal Household, Ettinger of London was appointed with a Royal Warrant to HRH the Prince of Wales. The brand continues to impress its international customers with its enduring quality, eccentricity and distinctive colourways.
Mr. Ettinger, tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in England, but I was the son of European parents. I grew up with skis, Sacher torte, afternoon siestas and a knowledge of foreign languages. I inherited a love and appreciation of the finest products and the skills and talents required in their manufacture.
Ettinger was founded by your father Mr. Gerard Ettinger back in 1934. What inspired him to start the company and how has his reputation rapidly gained ground?
My father was born in Germany, the son of esteemed military tailors who kitted out the most distinguished officers including the Kaiser’s son. The family then left when this part of Germany became Poland after the First World War and moved to Berlin. He then worked in Italy, Switzerland and Berlin in luxury businesses but also for a short while in film. He moved to England and a business acquaintance asked him to be his agent. It was then that it all began. His understanding of design and artisanship soon earned him a solid reputation for his ability to source the finest products globally for the London shops.
In 1980 you entered the family business, and in 1995 you took over the reins from your father. How has the brand evolved since then?
When I had been with the company long enough to have a sound understanding of the business, I knew that the best way forward was to develop our own brand. To establish the brand, I knew how much getting a Royal Warrant would be of great assistance.
Ettinger has been manufacturing leather goods for members of the Royal Family for many years and in 1996, you were granted a Royal Warrant to HRH The Prince of Wales. Tell us more about that special moment.
It was a very special moment and we were deeply honored. The Royal Warrant endorses not only the quality of the product but the reliability of the company. This is so important when you are marketing to an international audience.
What’s the philosophy behind the brand and the products?
We are a specialist luxury leather accessories brand. Many companies make leather accessories as an add on to their menswear range, but by specialising in this one area, we can concentrate on producing the very best in terms of design, manufacture and raw material selection. All decisions in the company are influenced by an inherent, stringent commitment to social and environmental sustainability.
How do you approach design at Ettinger and where do you find inspiration for new products?
We produce contemporary classics. All our designs are influenced by traditional leather manufacturing techniques, traditional products and the history of design and technology in the UK. Our products are genuinely authentic, and we work closely with our own factory when designing products. It is only with their knowledge that we can make the best. Every product is carefully tested for its purpose.
Where does Ettinger manufacture its products?
In Walsall, UK. The traditional home of leather production in the UK. Our factory has been producing leather goods since the 19th century.
You have an apprenticeship scheme in place that aims to attract younger workers in order to revive this once flourishing industry and ensure specialist skills continue to pass down the generations. Tell us more about it.
We like to attract young people to the trade. Many of our staff have skills passed down from generation to generation and I would be very sad if these traditional skills were ever to be lost. As the UK has moved away from manufacturing, a great number of craftmanship skills have already disappeared.
How much do you think sustainability is important in today’s fashion industry and how does it fit with your vision?
To me, every business decision must be made with reference to sustainability. We seriously promote the longevity of our products and do everything we can to ensure that through the quality of raw materials and the techniques in manufacturing that our products will endure. We never produce seasonal or high fashion items that will quickly date and require replacement.
What public figure (recording artist, film star…), past or present, do you feel best represents the overall style of the brand?
Name the best movie to go with your brand.
Casablanca and Timothy Dalton as James Bond in License to Kill.
Leave us with a motto that the company will always believe in.
“The exceptional for the more individual.”
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