It’s 1935 and in the London neighbourhood of Clerkenwell, near Smithfield’s Market, are the workshops of Prestwick Luggage.
No. 40 St. John's Street, where Ettinger's first leather workshop was sited.
Maker of fine leather suitcases, the Prestwick business is getting some special commissions from a gentleman called Gerald Ettinger. These would be the first of many from this valued customer before eventually Gerry buys the company and their workshops outright in the late 1960s.
Originally from Germany, Gerry had previously been representing a German leather goods maker, selling their products in Britain. No stranger to creating his own opportunities, he set about establishing his own leather goods business in the UK in 1934, naming what would become the family business: G. Ettinger Ltd.
Gerry had arrived in Great Britain with a list of contacts and the address of a distant relative, but this was a man who was used to making his own way in the world. In troubled times he was determined rather than daunted. Setting up office just off Regent Street and with privileged access to a skilled workforce in Clerkenwell he now owned a business that was right in the heart of the leather trade of not just London, but of the British Isles. Hides came from the nearby market, were tanned in the river and delivered to the makers, all within a horse and carriage ride of each other. Gerry Ettinger in his previous pursuits had always gravitated to the best and most prestigious – with his leather goods it was to be the same. Quality and prestige would become the hallmarks of Ettinger.
50 years later that quality would be recognised in the most highly regarded manner. Robert Ettinger, Gerry’s eldest son and now involved in the company, is sitting reading a newspaper when he happened to come across an article that spoke about the process that suppliers to The Queen and Royal Family had to go through in order to acquire a Royal Warrant. The granting of a Royal Warrant would be an official endorsement for Ettinger like no other. Indeed, what could provide a better stamp of approval for the quality of their leather goods, than being chosen by the Royal Family to be the official provider to the Palace? The first step was straightforward. Robert sat down, wrote a letter and sent it off. This was just the start of a long procedure which over the course of a number of years, through process and persistence, resulted in Ettinger being granted the Royal Warrant in December 1996, which we still hold today.
From the left: Robert Ettinger, Alexander Ettinger, Paul Ettinger, Gerry Ettinger