Here at Cotswold Collections we pride ourselves on our premium quality and high standard garments. Each and every piece is created with considered attention to detail by our team here in the heart of the Cotswolds. Because of this, it is of paramount importance and a pleasure to work with suppliers who share these values too.
The passion Owen Barry have for their products and the creation of them exudes from every element of the British business and we’re excited to be offering one of their striking leather bags in our latest collection!
Stepping into Owen Barry’s beautifully decorated offices, felt like stepping into a toy store as a child. There were so many beautiful things to look at and you can’t help but touch all the beautifully soft lifestyle products, although they are all guarded by the equally beautiful office dog, Bromley.
Cindi and her daughter, Chas are the latest Barry family members running the business that dates back to the early 1800’s and is based in Street, Somerset. Back then it looked a little different than it does today as Walter and Amy Barry (pictured below) ran the tannery with the help of their twelve children.
Their eldest son, Reginald, took over the management of the company and his three sons, Kennith, Ceril and Owen were each taught a different area of the business. Kennith was taught to fellmonger the hides and pelts, cleaning and stabilising the skins when they arrived from the abattoir. While Ceril learned the tanning, dying and dressing processes.
And the youngest, Owen (Cindi’s father) was sent away to a glove master in Yeovil, Mr Edwin Robbins, where he signed a seven-year indenture to study the skilled trade of cutting fine leather gloves.
Unfortunately, World War Two interrupted Owen’s training as he was conscripted to serve in the armed forces, meanwhile the family tannery was deployed into aiding the war effort by making munitions. After release, Owen returned to his apprenticeship, finally finishing eleven years after he started and then spent a brief period working for Drapers of Glastonbury. In 1948, Owen - along with his brother Cyril and uncle Harold - formed a new business, whom Cotswold Collections partner with today.
After learning about the intrinsic family history, Cindi took us on a factory tour where we learned about the brilliant quality and inspiring process behind each Owen Barry creation including the stunning silver clutch bag in our latest collection.
The company are incredibly passionate and proud about creating exclusive pieces from sustainable and environmentally friendly skins. In fact, 100% of Owen Barry skins are a by-product of the food industry and would usually go to waste, which unfortunately is becoming more common as the demand for meat has become much higher than the demand for leather. Nowadays, as Owen Barry no longer tan and finish their own skins, they instead work with specialist closed loop, authentic tanneries to develop exclusive skins that are the finest quality.
We were fascinated to learn that from the profile of the skins used you can detect the origin of the animal. Every skin is different, much like our own and Cindi explained that certain markings pertain to whether the cow was European, south American, African and so on. A cow hide also gives two skins, the leather and suede. The same profiling can also be determined from sheepskin, UK domestic sheep for example will have thicker, denser hair and robust pelts.
Each piece of each product, whether a handbag, purse or seat cushion is cut from the skin and is achieved by either hand or press cutting. Much like the individuality of the skins, each cutter has their own style of blade accustomed to their own preference and style of cutting.
Cardboard templates are used during the cutting process to ensure that each piece is the right specification and the cutter checks each part of the skin to ensure there are no marks that could alter the final product. Press cutting follows a similar process, although a metal template is placed on top and then a heavy press is manoeuvred to press it into the textile.
As we progressed through each of the stages of production, we began to see our very own Owen Barry clutch bag begin to take shape with the leather being folded and taped ready for the machinist to sew each piece together.
Finally, the stitches begin being sewn pulling each component together to form the final, beautiful product. Then each piece goes on to be rigorously quality checked to ensure the premium standard that Owen Barry expects and provides.
Our Owen Barry bag available in our latest collection will add a touch of luxury to all your festive occasions (or to add a fun touch to a casual outfit) this Christmas!
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