How great things age: Bown weekend bag
17 December 2012
Three years ago I met Judy Bown, a bag designer who had left her previous career working for companies such as Mulberry, Asprey and Tanner Krolle to set up her own label. The make of her bags was superb. The edges were inked by hand, for example, which she explained could be identified by their smooth, rounded finish: most pieces are inked individually and then stitched together (making them weaker), leaving a line running down the middle of the edge.
Most of all, though, I fell in love with her vegetable-tanned grain leather. This piece is about how well that leather and the bag has aged over those three years.
Scratches across the surface appear harsh to begin with, before mellowing with the natural oils of the leather. Dirt has accumulated at the edges and on the bottom of the bag; but it appears a happy addition to the patina, rather than a tarnishing. None of the edges have been damaged or come apart.
Judy’s design is unusual for a soft weekend bag, in that the structure is created from the outside by the two side panels. It works because of the nature of the leather and its thickly inked edges. As you can see that shape has become distorted slightly, with the edges buckling in places. But the overall structure is not compromised and it functions just as well.
The bag was not cheap, approaching £1000, but it has been used scores of times in the past three years and I look forward to using it for years to come. I even followed it up with a handbag for my wife – the Lizzy Bag, below.