We take a look at the extraordinary leathers used for the Westminster Flap-Over Briefcase and for a brand new piece (launching in just two weeks’ time), specifically the top-end refining and dyeing techniques that make them so special.

Ettinger’s Westminster Flap-Over Briefcase is a unique example of high-end craftsmanship and perfectionism.

So, it is no surprise that we have sourced the leather for these top-notch pieces from one of the country’s finest leather finishers J. E. Sedgwick & Co.

This outstanding heritage factory is based in Walsall – the home of traditional English leather-work – where the skilled team has been creating both equestrian pieces and leathers for high-end accessories since the 1900s. The leathers they create for us are hand-dyed using traditional techniques to give a unique, high-shine finish.

A Point of Difference
“What we produce are the Aston Martin and Roll Royces of the leather world,” explains J. E. Sedgwick & Co’s General Manager, Phil Bevington. “Because they are very carefully hand made using traditional techniques and a huge amount of care,” he adds.

“Many leathers used for luxury goods are very smooth, almost plastic looking. This is because they are coated. Our leathers are not. They are crafted so that they can take on rich, luxurious colour while letting the beauty of the natural grain show through”.

The Process
According to our master leather finisher, the tanning process (prior to dyeing) takes two different forms – vegetable or chrome. “Our process is the vegetable type; we mix the ground bark of the Mimosa tree in with the hides to give them a brown colour. At this point they are at what’s called the ‘wet brown’ stage.”

The leather is then trimmed, split and shaved before it is drummed – in a hand operated machine similar to an old-fashioned mangle – and then hung up to dry. The Curriers (the term for specialist in leather processing) then flatten it out and stretch it.

The pieces are carefully examined to see which hides would suit which colour best and the grains are refined where necessary. They are then hand sprayed with the selected high-end dyes before being left to dry. “We then oil up the leather with a wonderful (and secret) mixture that soaks into the fibres and provides a lovely finish, before ‘rusting up’ each piece for a high shine finish,” Phil adds.

Leather for Life
When asked what you need to do to keep your Ettinger briefcase in tip top condition, Phil laughs: “Nothing really! But make sure you let it dry naturally if it gets wet, don’t put it on the radiator”. A useful piece of advice.

Now you know the story behind the leathers, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the launch of our new briefcase in a few weeks’ time.