Daines & Hathaway - Q & A on Leather Goods
Daines and Hathaway - A Survivor
Remember when we covered the Daines and Hathaway Military Wet Pack? It's still putting in fine service. As is Daines and Hathaway, which has been manufacturing since the early 1920s.
With the sad news of Tweed Pig favourite Aquascutum going into administration, and its Corby factory closing, how was Daines and Hathaway managing to stay competitive and relevant as a British heritage brand? We thought we'd ask them.
Young Mrs Tweed prepared tea in her Royal Albert Old Country Roses teapot, sliced some ginger cake, and sat down with Daines and Hathaway Marketing Director Kim George for the following Q & A. Thanks to Kim for providing the answers.
Q & A Kim George, Marketing Director of Daines and Hathaway
How is Daines and Hathway surviving against low-cost imports in the 21st century?
Attention to detail and quality is essential. Maintaining our made in the UK manufacturing base - our authenticity - is something people are actively seeking out. Constant innovation is also a must for survival, especially with new technological advances. Hence our new iPad case.
What could you tell us about your design and pattern archive?
We have an extensive collection of old patterns and designs going right back to the 1920s. We are slowly going through it to resurrect some of the old designs with a view to making some limited editions.
Tweedy's Thought: I'm looking forward to seeing some of these old designs re-surface.
Where do your source your leather from? What do you look for when choosing the leather? What types of leathers do you use?
Pretty much all our leather comes from our parent company, Pittards, based in Yeovil, Somerset. They are one of the oldest tanneries in the country. The leather for small leather goods tends to be bovine and sheepskin for our wallets.
Talk us through the process involved from receiving the leather until the finished product.
The leather comes to us processed and ready to use. We cut it to shape using a pattern and knives, and it will then go through a number of different processes: cutting, splitting, skiving, embossing, preparing and machining. Pieces are hand assembled by the girls and ready to be inspected before being sent out.
Where do you look for inspiration to introduce new products?
We tend to look at upcoming technology and our archive. Another thing we like to do is collaborate with up-and-coming designers.
Where is your customer base?
We have a big fan base in the UK, but we do very well in the USA, Europe, Australia and Japan. We have an agent in New York and are looking for distributors in other countries.
Have you seen a change in the preferences of your male customers?
Not really. Our male customers tend to enjoy the traditional designs. The cufflink boxes and watch boxes are very popular and, of course, one of our best selling products is the Military Wet Pack, which is one of our oldest designs. But we do try to keep up with men's changing requirements. We introduced products like the Oyster Card Holder and the the Bridle Tan Luxury iPad Case (below).
What plans do you have for the future?
Expand our export market. Our products are doing particularly well in the Far East, where there is a real desire for British luxury goods.
British Classic - The Military Wet Pack is the most iconic and I would say the cufflink boxes. The Duke of Gloucester has one!
Personally I love the valet boxes (above). They hark back to a different era and conjure evocative images of country houses in pre-war Britain, camomile lawns and tennis courts. Think Brideshead Revisited and you've got it.