British Style: Jardine of London handbags fit for a Queen
On the eve of the Queen of England’s 90th Birthday Celebration one British entrepreneur has a unique story to tell. Mary Jardine’s very British handbag company, Jardine of London was inspired by a piece of jewelry that is beloved by Queen Elizabeth. Ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday this Saturday, Ms. Jardine explains that a family heirloom, the Jardine Star Brooch, which was left to the Queen in 1981 and worn by Her Majesty on the day of her 90h birthday in April, inspired her to start consumer British luxury handbag brand, Jardine of London. It’s a story worthy of Downton Abbey. Royal watchers may have noticed that the Queen has been wearing the Jardine Star Brooch quite a bit in the last year. It’s no coincidence that the beautiful brooch has been incorporated into the Jardine of London logo and will soon be incorporated into the bags themselves.
Like the Jardine Star Brooch, the Jardine handbags are elegant and beautiful. The creator, Mary Jardine, always loved handbags. She had an idea to create a bag based on the music bag once used to carry music when she was a child, which had a flap over top. Her idea was to recreate the stylish foldover top, but make it easy to carry and close. Thus, the design for the Jardine handbag was born. Details on the bag include the music bar type metal bar under the handbag flap. (The next generation of the bag will feature the Jardine star.) With her design in place, the next step was for Ms. Jardine to find a place to produce her handbag design.
The first sample was made in a factory in Walsall that also made equestrian wear. Ms. Jardine then took sample to London and a workshop there connected to London College of Fashion, where talented students helped her to make a small run of the bags. That first production of Jardine bags sold quickly, and she moved production to new factories. With demand increasing, Ms. Jardine’s customers now include celebrities Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris, Emma Watson, Rosamund Pike and Naomi Watts.
As demand increases, Ms. Jardine is determined keep the qualities of the bags top-notch and made in Britain. All elements of the bags are sourced in Britain, that includes the linings, hardware and leather. The original bags were soft calf leather, but the new bags are made from goat skin. “To the untrained eye, it’s a subtle difference,” notes Ms. Jardine. “However, goat skin is lighter in weight , more water resistant and over time the bags with achieve a deeper patina.” In spite of the quality improvements, the cost to consumer will stay the same. Even more exciting, the next generation of the bags will feature a little Jardine Star on them.
Jardine of London bags are an investment piece, priced at £595/$903 US for the small cross-body bag (accommodates an iPad) and £695/$ 1,055 US for the large tote (accommodates a laptop.) While pricey, the bags are less than Mulberry and other luxury brands (Ferragamo, Chanel and Louis Vuitton to name a few.)
The bags come in a variety of stylish colors and sizes. The big bag comes in four colors: black, taupe, navy, and raspberry, The smaller bag comes in all those colors, plus in a cream. The bags can be ordered via the Jardine of London website or at Wolf and Badger.
As an American of British heritage, and a lover of handbags, it’s a pleasure to discover such an elegant looking bag of high quality made in Britain. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Queen acquired one to match her stunning Jardine Star Brooch? Although it may be more likely that we spot one on the arm of the Duchess of Cambridge some day.