Ettinger Factory Visit 16th December 2019
Our visit to the Ettinger factory in Birmingham
Imagine my excitement when I took over as Brand Manager for Ettinger at Pediwear in Halifax, West Yorkshire early in 2017. It was a brand I had noticed a lot and one whose quality leather and rich colours had filled my eyes with splendour. More than two years on came the opportunity to visit the Ettinger factory in Walsall, England with Mike Small co-owner of Pediwear.
The build-up for me was a bit like a child waiting for Christmas Day to come. Like many shoe factories, the Ettinger factory is an unassuming building tucked away in and amongst rows of terraced housing. Originally, the company was 'James Homer Ltd' which was one of the oldest surviving leather goods factories and there was still a plaque on the wall outside one of the doors. Established in 1890 it had always occupied the same building.
In 1999 the factory was put up for sale and Ettinger bought it and kept all the skilled workforce. Standing outside the factory now you get a real feel of the past and the history of the place. Upon entering we were greeted by Gary Billingham (Factory Manager) and Jonathan Boston (Sales Manager). The first thing we noticed was the Royal Warrant to HRH The Prince of Wales which was appointed to Ettinger in 1996. This was very proudly displayed on the wall as you went in and was very impressive.
In the office, we were surrounded by the lovely Ettinger leather goods and your eye couldn’t but help be taken with them including the stunning luggage:
Once in the factory itself, we began our journey in the pattern room where all the leathers were carefully stored.
We were shown the beautiful leathers before production which included calf, shadow hide, bridle hide, Saint Crispin and capra goat leather as well as the printed crocodile pattern. They were so tactile and soft to the touch and shouted top quality. On the Bridle Hide leather which is naturally waxy we were shown what Gary called the “bloom” where the wax comes out of the leather ready to polish.
Then we were shown into the cutting room and laid out in front of us were the cutting tools required just to make one wallet. By my count, each least 30 tools therefore at least 30 separate pieces of leather to make one wallet. The staff in the production room made us feel very welcome and showed us their meticulous craftsmanship as they gradually handmade each wallet.
From the sewing machinists to the stud puncher we gradually moved through the factory.
If you would like your leather item personalising there is no problem and up to three initials can be stamped onto your leather item in a gold/silver or just the leather colour. Time was flying by as it does when you are having fun and we came to the Quality Control department where every item is carefully finished and inspected.
Then to be wrapped in the lovely Ettinger tissue paper and boxed into an Ettinger gift box, ready for sending out to the customer.
Handmade by Ettinger London really doesn’t do it justice.
It had been a fabulous, inspirational trip around the Ettinger factory and also a bit down memory lane. Simon Willis
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