Cambridge Satchel Company

A traditional chestnut-colored unisex leather satchel, made in the UK by a mother-and-daughter team, has unexpectedly taken the fashion world by storm. The Cambridge Satchel Company has become accidental multi million-pound global hit, and is competing for popularity with international mega-league brands.

The business, which was set up in 2008 by Julie Deane and her mother, Freda Thomas, has gone from selling three of the traditionally styled schoolbags a week from their kitchen table to 1,500 a week, in a multitude of colors. Turnover has increased from £15,000 to £3.3m, and may reach £8m in 2011. The bags have become a cult among twenty-something fashion bloggers, who post incessantly, swapping information about styles and colors. They have become a phenomenon that has surprised the unlikely fashion mogul behind the business.

“I honestly thought my market would be schoolchildren,” says Deane, who started the company to pay her daughter’s school fees. “She was being bullied. I’m very logical, and worked out the top 10 jobs I could do that would allow me time to still be a mum and would enable me to have my dog with me. “I was quite obsessed with satchels at the time, because I was reading Harry Potter to my children and I wanted to find them, because they are exactly what Harry and Hermione would have used at Hogwarts.”
Deane scoured eBay, stalked traditional school outfitters to find a producer and then sourced leather manufacturers before finding an about-to-retire craftsman in the north-east who agreed to produce her first samples.

Cambridge Satchel Company Gallery

Demand for the unisex satchel has been led by a youthful online fast-fashion clientele. “Cambridge Satchel is consistently in our top five online accessories sales every week,” said Anna Tizard, of Urban Outfitters.

The brand can also claim high-end fashion credibility: at 2010 Commes des Garçons, the venerable fashion-progressive Japanese brand, collaborated with the Cambridge company on a range of bag. The resulting four laptop-sized fluorescent bags promptly sold out at Dover Street market in Mayfair, London.

“A brilliant moment was when top London designer Erdem called us to place an order, and my mother took the call in our kitchen,” says Deane. “She was asking him for his surname, and he kept saying: ‘It’s just Erdem!'”

The success of the bag is down to several factors. There is a spotted-dick Englishness about the Cambridge Satchels, which Deane believes forms part of the appeal. “Our bags are handmade in British factories because there is nothing more British than a satchel,” she says. Her insistence on a “handmade in Britain” label ensures her satchels are imbued with the wistful nostalgia of schooldays, making them as attractive to parents for themselves as for their children.

Cambridge Satchel Company Sizes

Smallest satchel in the range is ideal to use for those few essential items.

Top flap: 11” (28cm)
Height: 7.5” (19cm)
Strap length: 55” (140cm)
Approx. Weight: 0.55Kg

An everyday handbag for the office or leisure.

Top flap: 13” (33cm)
Height: 9” (23cm)
Strap length: 55” (140cm)
Approx. Weight: 0.9Kg

This is a versatile satchel to suit most purposes, holds A4 paper along with other necessary items.

Top flap: 14” (35.5cm)
Height: 9.5” (24cm)
Strap length: 55” (140cm)
Approx. Weight: 0.95Kg

The perfect sized student bag accommodating A4 folder and crucial stationery.

Top flap: 15” (38cm)
Height: 10” (26cm)
Strap length: 55” (140cm)
Approx. Weight: 1.05Kg

15” Batchel
A versatile 15” satchel with the addition of a convenient top handle.

Top flap: 15” (38cm)
Height: 10” (26cm)
Depth: 4″ (10.5cm) at base
Strap length: 55” (140cm)
Approx. Weight: 1.15Kg

Cambridge Satchel Company offers an embossing service, giving you the opportunity to personalise your satchel. Embossing comes in four styles, Blind (no color fill), Black, Gold and Silver.

Buy This Bag on eBay