125 Years of Smythson

>> Ever since I worked with Smythson on a few guest posts on their blog and visited their factory in Wiltshire to get some Style Bubble stationery made up using all the manual techniques that make onlookers go "Oooh how quaint and awesome!", their leather trinkets and notebooks have slowly crept into my life not as decadent throwaway items but as sturdy luxuries – things that really do enrichen my life with every use.  That will sound terribly elitist but when a leather Blackberry holder or a dinky little camera case catches people's eyes just by the merit of their leather quality or their unusual colour ways, you have to admit that in some cases the phrase "You get what you pay for" can really be understood.  I like that Smythson occupies a quiet presence in the luxury strata of bling, sheeny shiny campaigns and hard-sell gloss.  The quiet rustle of their featherweight pale blue paper in their signature notebooks or the the discreet font they use whispers to you quite gently.  

Therefore, it didn't surprise me that they've recently released an extremely cute video summary of their 125 year history.  There's nothing grandiose about it.  The bags, wallets and other miscellaneous leather goods from their archives, which I enjoyed seeing when I went to visit Smythson HQ, are used to great effect in this video directed by Virgillo Villoresi.  The decades play out in playful stop animation using visually stimulating devices like the zoetrope or optical art from the sixties and brings us right into the present, a bag from its new Eliot collection.  

They have a surprisingly varied history to draw inspiration from. There was a time when Smythson was making everything from fur muffs to sardine servers.  However, they've linked up The Bond Street bag dated to 1900, one of the first that Frank Smythson made to the present Eliot collection by placing similar striped linings in all the totes, clutches and cases.  The lining is also shot with a Nile Blue thread, a colour that immediately makes me think of Smythson whenever I see that reassuring shade of blue.  The tagline on the ad that says "The Bond Street Bag will always hold just a little more" immediately brought back memories of trying to find the biggest leather bag I could just so I could re-enact the Mary Poppins' carpet bag scene.  I'd stomp around with my pretend carpet bag saying things like "Spit spot!", bossing my sister around when tidying up our room. That developed into my late teenage obsession with finding early 20th century leather doctor's bags to tote around my books as to be distinguished and "different".    

Bond Street Bag



With a Tsumori Chisato umbrella, a very roomy Eliot tote bag and my own hat and trench coat ensemble, I still harbour dreams of reaching into the bottom of a bag and pulling out a very decorative lampshade or gilt mirror.  The very act of going elbows deep into a bag and remembering my childhood play-acting are the simple joys in life that doesn't necessarily need to be found in a really expensive bag but still, Smythson are laying their classic luxury gauntlet down quite convincingly, judging by this one specimen.  

IMG_9633(Worn with Acne leather jacket, Junya Watanabe trench coat, Christopher Shannon shirt, J.W. Anderson skirt, Joseph Nigoghossian hat and 3.1 Phillip Lim "Nancy" flats)



30 Replies to “125 Years of Smythson”

  1. Yes I love Smythson,they get their colours just right, but somehow I feel like I’m still not entitled to using their products: too perfect and luxury for me at the moment. So I’m using another reaaally cool (Korean, obviously) stationery brand called MMMG, much cheaper, a bit less luxe, but very whimsical and dreamy, with great, thick paper.
    Elisa – Wandering Minds

  2. It´s so important to know about the heritage of quality British brands like Smythson. These days it is so easy to forget about the history involved in making pieces like this. All of our products are made in London using the highest possible quality, and this season´s collection if inspired by vintage London!

  3. Though I love the aesthetic appeal, luxe quality and the awareness of heritage that seems to run through all Smythson products, I don’t think I could ever own one of their charming notebooks or dinky handbags. This is simply because I would be far too scared to actually use them, for fear of spoiling their timeless quality!
    Best Wishes,

  4. Love it! what a pretty blog. Love this! Sending love from New York City, hope you are well. Please follow me! & like me on Facebook! If you have bloglovin, we should follow each other!

  5. I borrowed the bag (like you would for shoots) to illustrate the bag’s lining and its connection to the original bond st bag. It’s not mine to keep. The post was about smythsons’s heritage and my admiration for their (admittedly expensive) products. Where did I say in the post that the bag was mine? I feature many things on the blog that I don’t own but admire…

  6. Susie, I hope you’re not offended by my comment. The issue isn’t even whether the bag is yours or not, it’s this type of posts that annoy me (in general, not specifically yours). Telling people how wonderful multi-thousand-dollar bags/shoes are, is verging on Gwyneth Paltrow’s “GOOP” territory.

  7. I think that appreciation for products that feature such high levels of craftsmanship is a sure sign of maturing…going for quality over quantity.
    Smythson products are investments – it’s not the kind of thing you replace each season for the latest and greatest trend, but instead something that you use year after year and leave your imprint on. The personality of the item grows over time as you use it.

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