Brilliantly British: local heroes revered worldwide for their unique craftsmanship | UK | News (Reports)



Mulberry is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year by relaunching its Alexa satchel (Image: Mulberry)

For day two of our Brilliantly British series, we’ve lined up the best in shoewear, jewellery, watches and leather goods – ­perfect presents for the one you love. From the jewellery range recently worn by the Duchess of Cambridge to the umbrella brand favoured by The Avengers’ John Steed, we’ve got the goodies to win you Brownie points this Christmas.


What woman doesn’t dream of owning a Mulberry handbag? The iconic luxury fashion brand turns 50 this year and has celebrated by relaunching its coveted Alexa satchel, the ‘It’ bag of a generation a decade ago.

Model and fashionista Alexa Chung inspired that tote, but Mulberry has always been the go-to bag of A-listers and younger royals such as Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Zara Tindall.

Despite a tough trading year, the company has pledged to keep producing more than 50 per cent of its leather goods in the UK through a sustainable and carbonneutral process.

Mulberry CEO Thierry Andretta says: “When you buy a beautiful handbag from Mulberry, you are buying the absolute best in British manufacturing. In these uncertain times, our heritage as a British brand is something to be protected and celebrated. Buying Mulberry goods is supporting British manufacturing and ensuring that Made in England is a phrase synonymous with quality and responsibility.”

Brilliantly British

Joseph Cheaney and sons have an extensive collection of contemporary and classical designs (Image: NC)

Joseph Cheaney & Sons

Joseph Cheaney & Sons handcraft elegant, durable and sustainable Goodyear-welted footwear carrying an extensive collection of contemporary and classic designs for men and women.

Jonathan Church, managing director, says: “There’s never been a better time to purchase a pair of British-made shoes. Investing in our products is a sustainable option for those looking for a durable, long-lasting shoe that has unique history and heritage behind it.”

Dinny Hall

Dinny Hall flaunts a vast array of delicate necklaces, hoops and precious gemstone rings (Image: PR)

Dinny Hall

Dinny Hall is known for its vast array of hoops, precious gemstone rings and delicate necklaces.

The jewellery brand was established in 1985 from Soho in London when Dinny was a fresh graduate from Central Saint Martins School of Art.

Fans adore the subtle luxury and wearability of the unique designs, all made in the UK. There are six Dinny Hall boutiques in central London and other stockists are listed on its website.


Bremont was co-found by two bothers in memory of their father who died in a plane crash (Image: Bremont)

Bremont watches

Bremont was co-founded in 2002 by Nick and Giles English in memory of their father who lost his life in a plane crash.

The company makes beautiful hand-crafted pilot’s watches in a state of the art facility in Henley-on-Thames, adhering to principles of British engineering, adventure and aviation.

As well as manufacturing watches for elite squadrons around the world, Bremont continues to play an influential role in revitalising the UK watch industry. Giles says: “We’re proud to be bringing the lost art of British watchmaking back to English soil.”

Yull Shoes

Yull Shoes are comfortable yet quirky (Image: Yull Shoes)

Yull shoes

Sarah Watkinson-Yull’s feminine shoes are comfortable yet quirky and stylish. And she’s a real British success story.

While studying business management at university in London, the London College of Fashion graduate successfully applied for funding from the Prince’s Trust to start her business in 2011.

Yull is now one of the few independent shoe retailers that designs, sources and manufactures entirely within the UK selling flats, boots, sandals and trainers.

Comfort is her watchword. Sarah says: “Our motto is ‘style over fashion’, producing classic stylings with a fun and colourful twist, and catering for ladies of all ages.”

  • – use code BOB for a 15 percent discount until December 24.

Fox Umbrellas

Quality and attention to detail are a hallmark of Fox model (Image: Fox umbrellas)

Fox Umbrellas

When Fox Umbrellas was established in 1868, only the wealthiest in society could afford to pay for the expensive fabrics of the time to stay dry. And while almost everyone now owns an umbrella, quality and attention to detail remain the hallmark of a Fox model. The company, started by Thomas Fox, has built a global reputation for excellence and superb craftsmanship.

“It was the first manufacturer to use nylon instead of silk for umbrella canopies after the material was adopted by the military during the Second World War,” says managing director, 
Paul Garrett. Clients include British and Japanese royals and the late US President John F. Kennedy, while John Steed in The Avengers notably wielded a Fox Umbrella.

Paula Kirkwood

Paula Kirkwood’s leather bags and accessories are created by hand (Image: PR)

Paula Kirkwood

Every leather bag or accessory is created by hand from Paula Kirkwood’s Brighton workshop. The former design head at textile recycling charity TRAID has created garments for comedian Mel Giedroyc and Desert Island Discs presenter Lauren Laverne, and acted as an on-air seamstress for Twiggy.

She uses her skill to produce beautifully-made handbags, totes and wallets.

“All my work is made by myself with a strong emphasis on timeless quality,” Paula says. “‘Buy once, buy well’ is my motto.”


Laura uses any leftovers bits of fleece to make her accessories (Image: PR )

Laura’s Loom

Collecting bags of wool in person from farms across the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District, Laura Rosenzweig creates blankets, scarves and walking socks. She uses any leftover bits of fleece for accessories.

“My yarn is spun in West Yorkshire, dyed in Selkirk and woven in Langholm and in Sedbergh,” she says. “I design everything myself on my American Harrisville 8-shaft floor loom in my studio near the market town of Sedbergh in Cumbria.”

Blue Eyes Bow Ties

With Christmas approaching, bow ties are back, even if they’ll mostly be seen on Zoom. So why not turn to Helen King, the woman who styled Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who? “What could be more quintessentially British than Doctor Who in a bow tie?” she laughs.

Helen focused on face masks instead of her usual funky neckties at the height of the pandemic and says support from consumers is crucial for small businesses like hers right now. “But it’s deeper than that,” she says. “Buying a British-made item conveys a sense of pride and a respect for incomparable quality.”

Barnes and Moore leatherworks

Barnes and Moore boast an extensive belts, wallets, bags and journals (Image: Barnes and Moore)

Barnes and Moore Leatherworks

The firm began life as a response to the fast fashion industry and its “questionable manufacturing ethics”, says Barnes and Moore managing director Steve Moss.

“Historically the UK has had a great reputation for providing quality goods, and we wanted to build on that.

We’re finding increasing numbers of people are switching to quality, sustainable, ethically-made British goods.”

Belts, wallets, bags, journals and more are available.


Crown Northampton has produced quality handmade footwear since 1908 (Image: Crown Northampton )

Crown Northampton

This fifth-generation family-owned business has produced quality handmade footwear in England since 1908 under the ownership of the Woodford family.

Specialising in luxury sneakers, leather-soled slippers, crepe-soled desert boots and flexible, lightweight jazz shoes, it provides unisex sizes for men and women ranging from UK 3.5-13. Orders are bespoke, with wider fittings available, and all products are made in a factory in Northampton.

Managing director Chris Woodford says: “The strong mantra of ‘Every Order, Made To Order’, has instilled a sustainable business model across the company with no need for discount or sale culture.”

Both Barrels

Both Barrels make bags and travel accessories that can go from day to night (Image: Both Barrels)

Both Barrels

Catering for busy professionals, Both Barrels make bags and travel accessories that can go from day to night.

“The look is business but our bags are made for real life, whether it’s a working travel expedition or gym visit,” says founder and designer Mat Booth.

His luxury holdalls and backpacks are made from cotton and wool, finished with leather trims and water resistant outers.

All products are designed in Manchester and made in Britain.

  • – use code EXPRESS10 for 10 a percent discount. Valid until December 14, one use per customer.


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