mulberry shows us how the new mini lily is made
The British leather-goods brand launches a new bag and shows off its hi-tech factory floor.
With Mulberry's heritage in mind, it's easy to imagine their bags being made out in an old country workshop. Yes, they are made in the middle of Somerset, but not in an old mill - rather a modern, progressive factory; a hi-tech space with separate artisanal stations staffed by 300 expert craftsmen.
The opening of The Willows is a new chapter in Mulberry's manufacturing success story and reflects a £7.5million investment in British manufacturing, with the help of a £2.5 million Regional Growth Fund grant, which the company acquired after promising to help with local jobs after other manufacturers left the area. The vast majority (roughly 90%) of the workers live within five miles of the place and a good number of them cycle to work or come in on the car hire scheme.
Even with half-day Fridays, the craftsmen create an impressive number of bags - 2000 a week is their record - in a variety of styles, and are trained in primary and secondary skills, retraining whenever a new style (like the mini Lily, a smaller version of the iconic ladies' evening bag) comes into being. It takes around 200 minutes to make a larger Lily and 260 minutes to make the bigger Piccadilly.
Everything is made on site, except for the leather itself, which usually comes from Italian tanneries. About 140,000 square feet of leather is cut every month, which is then split to make it lighter, and skived, to make sure the hard corners are taken off the edges. Once the bag hits the end of the line and is checked for imperfections, it's neatly packaged to ensure that whoever buys it experiences a retailer's main aim: that "beautiful moment.
Text Stuart Brumfitt