Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Gizzi Leather - Drooling Over Bags
I was a little stunned when I first heard about the company we're featuring today, gents — knocked back by the sheer craftsmanship of the products. The feeling was similar to the existential crisis I had seeing the Grosvenor Drink Cabinet.
This is the Story of Gizzi Leather
Gizzi Leather was founded last year by Mark Angelo-Gizzi. A one-man operation, he makes leather bags by hand to custom specifications.
Gizzi's foundation is a remarkable story in itself. Mark had been a graphic artist working freelance in London for thirty years. He attended a leathercraft course at Capel Manor College in Enfield, London, which is one of the foremost colleges in the UK for learning saddlery techniques. Mark found that he had an aptitude for working in leather — no doubt helped by the attention to detail required in graphic design — and became totally hooked on this craft.
Even after so many years as a graphic artist, Mark felt compelled to embark on a career in leathercraft. Gizzi Leather was born.
He told us from his Hertfordshire workshop:
"I began to learn as much as I could. I concentrated on the more traditional side of leathercraft, creating bags that are made to last and retain a nod to nostalgic older satchel styles — with an emphasis on quality materials put together entirely by hand.
"Each item I make is unique in that you can customise existing styles to match exactly what you need in terms of size, colour and fittings."
I could only dream of such a Damascene career switch and told Mark so. I also told him the Weekender Bag you see above had me positively drooling. Quite true. And I'm still drooling at this instant British classic.
Gizzi Leather Bags
Gizzi bags are constructed from English saddlery leather using linen thread. The fittings are solid brass. Satchel bags are left unlined, as is traditional. He offers a number of styles. That's the Compact Satchel below.
Mark will be including custom-made luggage for classic cars in his range this year.
Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust
Earlier this year, Mark applied to QEST - the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust for a training grant. QEST is the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association. They award grants or bursaries twice a year to UK-based craftspeople able to demonstrate dedication, skill and aptitude in their given craft and who can present a plan for their future in their chosen field.
Mark is proud and honoured — and so he should be — to have been made a QEST Scholar. As he seeks to learn all aspects of his craft, through the scholarship, Mark is in touch with some of the best leather-workers in the country. Thus the craft is able to thrive as knowledge is shared and skills are passed on.
With Royal support like this, who says that British craftsmanship is dying?