Smythson’s leather goods may have long been a symbol of understated quality, but clear the diary chaps, because the Bond St based brand is undergoing a bit of a make-over…
Since 1887 Smythson have been making top-notch leather stationary, favoured by celebrities (Madonna) and royals (Queen Victoria) and noted for their fine leather covers and most famously the iconic pale egg-shell blue lined pages that have become their trademark. A very niche brand indeed, Smythson made stuffy notebooks and diaries that just weren’t equipped to survive modern life.
But this company has undergone some major overhauls, notably being bought out and freshened up by Sarah Elton et al in 1998, and also boasts Samantha Cameron who has worked as their creative consultant for some 16years, bringing some strong ideas to this quintessentially British label (very befitting of a PM’s wife), and they’ve gone from strength to strength since.
Now your keen fashion eye may already recognise their tongue-in-cheek leather-bound notebooks, address books and diaries – they’re certainly doing the rounds. The Smythson books have been spotted in every Sloany girls handbag, clutched in the hands of the elite Front Row posse at fashion weeks the world over, and lining the virtual shelves of many a luxury brand online store. Faintly witty slogans subtly imprinted into the front of exquisite leather.
My personal favourites being the ‘NEW YORK LONDON MILAN PARIS’ runway notebook, the lovely sky blue ‘GENIUS’ notebook and the bright fusia ‘J’ADORE’ book. I’ve also got my eye on a ‘TRAVELS AND EXPERIENCES’ notebook for my little sis to record her international flitting around the globe.
Smythson have also branched out, realising their fortune did not lie in stationary alone, they started making beautiful leather handbags, and more recently home ware.
The bags are utterly divine. I’m a little bit in love with the black Cooper tote. So much so in fact that I included it in my Bags of Style post. It’s elegant and oh-so classy without being showy and common. Tres Moi. If you’re looking for a bag that smugly whispers “Expensive”, rather than screams it from the rooftops, then look no further.
So, all that jazz aside, what’s so exciting about Smythson right now?
Well apart from the gorgeous bags, chic stationary, well established luxury branding and high society connections (that’s not enough for you??) the Smythson name is about to get another little re-jig, just in time for its 125th birthday. Starting with the modest, blink-and-you’ve missed it, Bond Street store in London.
Up until recently the slightly stuffy store has been their main outlet but that’s changing with a huge new, glossy flagship store opening its doors. Marble and glass is the new backdrop to the exclusive merchandise and I’ve no doubt it will draw crowds of new Smythson converts like never before, propelling the brand to new heights and cementing its status as a force to rival Mulberry and Prada in the leather accessory stakes.
Just another perfect tweak, rather than a tacky reinvention, for a brand that has never actually strayed from its signature style, nor bowed to the pressure to sell out in order to win the fashion popularity contest. An admirable quality in any business.
So, yes loyal readers, Smythson are still number one in my leather-bound, blue-paged notebook.
Definitely my label of choice for A/W 2012 and one to watch for the near future.