Bag Heaven: An Afternoon With Osprey London

Bags for me are the ultimate fashion accessory, I think it is because you don’t have to be a size zero to pull them off, they come in a multitude of styles, colours and sizes, and most of all they are the easiest way to instantly add your personality and mood to an outfit. I am sure some people will say the same about shoes, and I do have a lot of those as well, but for me handbags are the ultimate fashion treats.

Like with boots I always say buy a quality handbag and it will last you years to a lifetime dependant on where you buy it. For me I do love a leather bag, I love a splash of colour, I love a classic shape, and I adore one with lots of room. Imagine how excited I was when I was introduced to the Osprey London showroom, I felt like a kid in a candy shop, they were so many gorgeous pieces.

This was more than just a press day visit, this was a one-on-one tour with the brand’s designer and MD, Graeme Ellisdon. It was such an enjoyable afternoon, finding out more about this iconic British label, which just so happened to be born the same year as me, as well as learning about Graeme’s inspirations and design processes.

First up, I have to say what an inspiration Graeme is, I was completely honoured that he took time out of his busy schedule to chat to me. We touched on how the brand started as a belt company, working with the likes of Ralph Lauren, as well as how his design process is more hands-on with the material than sketching.

“I love working with natural materials like leather, I work with the fabrics rather than sketch,” Graeme commented. “The process of how the leather responds, reminds me of my father who was a carpenter.”

I think it is because of his hands-on approach that the label has so many gorgeous classics that are timeless in their design. One of the brand’s best seller, the Audrey, an elegant vintage-inspired bag was one of my favourites and that isn’t just because The Queen has one. I absolutely adore the polished finish of this calf leather bag with a croc print, oh and the striking orange shade helps – how perfect is that.

The orange is coming for spring/summer 2012, but can’t wait that long, then you can indulge in either a black or purple one on the brand’s website. Another amazing thing about this bag, for a classic shape, which I lovingly call the Granny bag it is reasonably priced at £225, and trust me the leather on this beauty makes this a bargain!!

Colour is a big part of Osprey London, I think that is why I am drawn to the brand, it cleverly works the British heritage label, while still being contemporary and cool, and that is a hard task.

“If I believe in something, I make it, and I commit to it,” Graeme added when telling me how he decides on which styles to produce, he generally doesn’t have orders from his stockists before he produces them as he likes to make the decisions. I love how bold that is, and so respect that as a brand they know exactly what their customer wants, and that is great quality, gorgeous styles, at the best price they can offer.

I have to admit I was completely fascinated with Graeme, I love his approach to designing, one of the bags I fell completely in love with had to be this one. Not only is it a gorgeous colour, I think everything in this orange hue I was completely blown away by, but I loved that this piece was inspired by a vintage 40s handbag that he found. What he did was take the basis of the original design and mix it with the contemporary look of Osprey London, it so works and all these vintage pieces make the collection really strong, I really do love a nod to the past.

One of the strongest lines in the collection and so on trend at the moment had to be the equestrian-inspired pieces in black and tan, all created using traditional saddlery techniques in the most gorgeous soft Spanish calf leather. My favourite had to be The Hickstead above, I just love the way the bucket-shaped bag has been given a saddle make-over, and also it would fit everything in, while still being stylist.

The range has something for everyone though, from cross body bags and weekend holdalls to large totes. Trust me these bags have to be touch to believe how incredibly soft they are – I loved them.

Another big theme in the collection had to be the luxuriously glamorous jaguar print. I am not normally a lover of animal print but I fell in love with the strokeable The Kariba grab bag with its chocolate leather trim. Not only does this handbag make a statement but it is also practical as it is a great size and shape, my guide is if it will fit a magazine in and this beauty sure will!!!

I also quite liked The Zambezi below, a gorgeous bag which can be worn across the body. Also if like me you love to coordinate your handbag with a matching purse Osprey really has thought of everything.

What I love most about these sort of visits is finding out new things about the brand, and I think every knows that Osprey London produces high quality classics but did you all know about their diffusion line, O.S.P Osprey? No, didn’t think so, well you need to get yourself down to John Lewis or check out the pieces on Osprey’s website as they are gorgeous handbags at a cheaper price point, which still have the high quality feel of the mainline.

I like the quirky shape of the O.S.P Osprey The Helsinki shoulder bag at the front in red, the pebble grain hide is unbelievable and at £125 it is such great value. The Vienna grab bags are also so reasonable at £115, and like with the mainline colour features throughout with the purple shade making a great alternative to black.

I could go on and on about how many standout pieces, seriously lots, but what I will say is that I love brands which cross age generations, I could see teenagers carrying some of these bags as well as the more mature lady, more so as vintage-inspired looks are so on trend.

As well as showing me round the showroom Graeme also discussed the future plans for Osprey London, including how they are adding a workbench area into the head-quarter’s restored hat factory to start doing personalised pieces as well as repairs. This will be perfect for all the stocking-filler type pieces they do, including these key-rings, which do look ideal for my Barbies!!

Want to see more from my visit? Well head on over to my Facebook page where I have a whole album dedicated to Osprey London.