take a tour of the mulberry factory
On a warm and rainy spring day, i-D travelled to Somerset to take a tour of the Mulberry factory to celebrate the recent launch of The Millie Tote, the latest creation by the nearly five-decades-old British brand.
On a warm and rainy spring day, i-D travelled to Somerset to take a tour of the Mulberry factory to celebrate the recent launch of The Millie Tote, the latest creation by the nearly five-decades-old British brand. Inside a huge, airy space the team witnessed each stage of Mulberry’s intricate bag-making process. Using a combination of pioneering tech and the irreplaceable skill of artisanal bag crafters, each piece is created to exacting standards.
Huge, sleek machines cut shapes from large pieces of leather with precision calculated by specially developed software, ensuring the least amount of waste material possible. Then it’s up to the craftspeople of the Mulberry factory to put their skills to work on their highly specialised areas of expertise, from the meticulous hand-stitching of the bags — even the most high-tech machine can’t replicate the quality of that done by a specially trained craftsperson — to inking, which involves gently smoothing and sealing the edges of the leather, to the finishing touches including stamping the brand logo at the very end of the process. All of the workers are from the local community, living a short distance from the factory, and all have been trained by Mulberry in the skills needed to craft the bags — each person gravitating to a certain specialism in the process of bag construction, with their particular knack becoming evident during the process of training, in which they experience all aspects of bag-making.
The Somerset factory is where the drawings of Johnny Coca, Mulberry’s Creative Director, are brought to live, with prototypes created and tested out. It’s a back and forth process between Johnny’s vision and the hands-on skill and knowledge of the factory’s expert craftspeople, working together until the design is perfected. In an era in which making clothing and accessories that are really made to last, to keep and be used for years to come, is increasingly important, the way Mulberry approach design feels particularly apt.