May 14 2011
You know how it is to be the victim of an irrational fashion obsession. The object of desire keeps recurring in your brain until you scratch the itch. This spring, I had a yen for a bright orange bag – silly, I know, but probably influenced by the amount of orange clothing spilling on to the high street as fall-out from the catwalk collections of Prada, Jil Sander et al. Orange may be an upbeat, sunny colour, but I just couldn’t face looking like a stick of barley sugar. As a bag, however, it nods to the colour-blocking trend, while orange looks very agreeable with the neutrals, from grey and beige to navy, that form my wardrobe staples.
You would think it would be the easiest thing to find a bag in this year’s hottest colour. Wrong. Most were either too cheap and garish or too expensive (£7,000-worth of orange-glazed croc clutch?). Much as I love Hermès orange, I couldn’t kid myself that this was the long-term investment that would justify such a buy. The ironic Sander orange plastic bag (a snip at £90) was sold out. Most mid-market models were either too small to be practical or not properly orange – too polite and timid.
And then I found it, while trawling the internet for orange bags. Not on a big fashion site, either – this comes from the traditional English family leather firm Tusting and is strong and well made, real value at £285. The bag is called Kimbolton, after a town near where it’s made in the Home Counties. It’s in rich, 1960s-decor orange, large, two-handled and completely plain so the colour tells the story. It has plenty of inside pockets for small items and even holds my laptop. I have never had a work bag that’s such fun. And this is not just a summer love affair – the leather should improve and mellow with use, to liven up an autumn camel or grey coat. I get asked all the time where it’s from, the mark of a real hit.