Bespoke luggage that nods to the Roaring Twenties

Gladstone London creates handcut pieces using vintage construction techniques

Gladstone London customised fine vegetable tanned leather G21 tote, £4,200
Gladstone London customised fine vegetable tanned leather G21 tote, £4,200

When craftsman John O’Sullivan established Gladstone London three years ago he wanted to revive some of the styles and construction techniques of London-made luggage from the 1920s – substantial, with the panels sewn edge-to-edge so that the seams created a rigid, boxy effect (the kind of bags that didn’t need to take into account the logistics of economy air travel).

Gladstone London leather G9 duffle bag in Smoke, £850
Gladstone London leather G9 duffle bag in Smoke, £850

O’Sullivan brought an encyclopedic knowledge of leatherwork to the company, having worked in made-to-order luggage for over 30 years, including stints at Chanel and Tanner Krolle. The leathers employed are all cut by hand ­– softer versions of the luggage are made in Italy, while the harder (usually one-off pieces) are made using original 1920s techniques.

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The bespoke service starts at £7,000, available by appointment only at the label’s Shepherd Market boutique, and can take anything from a couple of months to two years if certificates of provenance for certain skins – such as Nile crocodile – are needed. “I want to pay homage to the artisans who cared for and crafted things by hand before mass production,” says O’Sullivan.

Gladstone London leather G21 tote in Smoke, £1,595
Gladstone London leather G21 tote in Smoke, £1,595

Any bag or case can also be hand-gilded or finished with graffiti or other handpainted effects. “We recently created a set of six pieces, handcrafted in fine vegetable tanned leather and polished to create a unique patina,” says O’Sullivan. “The client requested our rose-gold hardware, and the lining is in a salmon-coloured Alcantara (a suede-like microfibre). We also made a ‘jigsaw’ set of luggage for a sports car.”

Gladstone London leather G23 backpack in Shark Grey, £950
Gladstone London leather G23 backpack in Shark Grey, £950

This is the perfect luggage for going on the road with, and captures some of the romance of early-20th-century travel – it definitely isn’t luggage you’d part with on a conveyor belt at check in…

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