A resplendent new collection of hard leather luggage sees Purdey broach designs and making both old and new, homespun and from further afield. Here is everything you need to know.
Since being founded in 1814, Purdey has been a marque defined by its ‘made in Britain’ ethos. It’s right there in the hyper-artisanal shotguns and rifles that made our name in the first place – but also, since becoming a full-bore sporting outfitters, in the Scottish-spun tweeds woven into its fieldwear, the plethora of grain-leather footwear fashioned by a renowned cordwainer, and in the English hazelwood turned into thumbsticks (to name but a few).
Sometimes, though, it’s refreshing to glance away from this green and pleasant land, to embrace the exemplary craftsmanship of some of our European friends. Enter our Autumn/Winter 2023 leather luggage collection which – in something of a subtle, cosmopolitan shift – pairs Dutch leather and French construction to create some of the most elegantly robust lifestyle pieces yet realised by Purdey.
That’s no small achievement, but the collection’s genesis is still indubitably British: an array of holdalls, field bags, backpacks and elevated totes that make reference to both Victorian luggage and shooting accessories.
The journey begins in Holland, where an impeccable, structured ECCO Taurus grain-leather is sourced for its superior softness and luxurious feel.
This leather is sent to eastern France, to a specialist workshop renowned for its meticulously-crafted, structured leather goods. Here, 20-odd artisans meld techniques old and new, with a no-stone-unturned approach to detail: bonding the leather with Italian suede and natural glue (rather than lining it), hand-painting seams inside and out. The resulting feel is one of unequivocal, understated luxury – emphasised by the subtle featherburst logo debossed onto the leather, complementing the de rigeur Purdey branding.
The Devil In The Details
The collection’s essence is one of ‘aspirational lifestyle’ – highly-considered and precise designs, conceived to become instant heirlooms. The Victorian- and shooting-indebted details, for one, are studious.
Take the statement Decoy Holdalls and Loader Duffles – both of which make nods to the classic Gladstone doctor’s bag, with their rounded silhouettes, bistered hues and single handles. Typical facets of Victorian-era luggage were the wooden strips screwed into the underside, designed to grip the railing on the overhead compartments of railway carriages and stop things sliding around; these feature tanned-leather runners mirroring this detail.
What’s more, the bags’ adjustable straps were devised from the look of a gunslip in the Purdey archive; while the colour of the leather mirrors the smoked walnut wood of a Purdey gun, and the chequering of the luggage’s hardware that of the intricate finishing around a finished gun stock. These are refined details, and painstakingly executed.
The etymology of the Ghillie Backpack, meanwhile, draws on the Scottish word for ‘one who carries other people’s belongings’, inspired by the winsome image of gamekeepers accompanying guests for a day’s fishing or shooting (and a buckled flap closure refers to that from a cartridge bag – still an essential accessory for any half-prepped sportsman, and more directly recreated in the Crossbody Field Bag).
The simple tote bag’s cache has skyrocketed in recent years; its canvas form utterly ubiquitous, and here rendered more urbane in the Keeper Tote, with its zipped inner pockets and adjustable handles. Finally, the Crossbody Wallet features a phone pocket, key holder, provision for six cards and a detachable strap decorated with traditional Purdey stripes – all designed to be worn underneath your outerwear, thus keeping your small essentials quite safe from whatever hideous elements this autumn and winter (and for that matter, next spring and summer) might have in store.
Historical nuance, contemporary craftsmanship, beautiful aesthetics and a smattering of cosmopolitan verve? New collection or no, it’s Purdey business as usual.