We are so proud to make all of our knitwear in Scotland & in 2020 we wanted to celebrate some of the other fabulous businesses out there who do the same. Our first featured business in this Made in Scotland series is Barrhead Leather, based in the West of Scotland near Glasgow. Barrhead Leather make beautiful high quality products from Deerskin Leather & Harris Tweed.
“We strive to produce a quintessentially Scottish product, with impeccable provenance, celebrating the very best in Scotland’s natural resources. With that core philosophy, everything else seems to fall into place.”
Barrhead Leather is run by Anthony Wright, a seventh generation tanner, using traditional skills passed down to him by his Father & Grandfather. Originally Anthony tanned kid or goat skins but about 15 years ago he began to work with Scottish Deerskins using the same machinery & a similar process. There was very little demand for deerskin which struck him as a waste of high quality Scottish materials. After some searching he found a golf and handbag manufacturer who started to make bags for Anthony using the deerskin leather.
Shortly afterwards the bag maker decided to retire & so Anthony took over his business and brought the bag making in house. He also introduced Harris Tweed to the brand to make a truly unique quality Scottish product. Their range has now expanded to include not only handbags but larger travel bags, purses, wallets, flasks & sporrans.
There are four people working in the business who make the bags, which also includes the tanning of the Deerskin leather. Every bag is made to order and they only produce around 60 – 80 bags a week, depending on which style they are working on.
Anthony says it is important to him that the bags have a stately yet timeless feel to them & that they introduce new designs & patterns when they are inspired to do so rather than because they feel under pressure to do so. He adds that “there are styles we have been making for ten year which are just as popular now as they were when we introduced them”.
Anthony’s own personal favourites are the Gretal bag – a large bag that sits neatly over the shoulder, the ladies Sporran bag, based on the traditional kilt accessory design & the Hip Flasks – no prizes for guessing why for this one!
Anthony has also been involved in creating a leather sporran for the Outlander team! “About 8 years ago I was approached by the Outlander costume department who were looking for a Jacobean sporran. I made up five samples on my kitchen table over the weekend, and delivered them to the assistant costume designer’s house on the Sunday night.” They must have liked his designs as he received a phone call at 9am the very next day asking for 5 more copies by the following Friday! Eventually one of Anthony’s designs became Jamie’s sporran!
We at Bill Baber Knitwear think that Scotland is the most amazing country in the world to visit & live in & we wanted to source some further suggestions for beautiful places to see. So we’ll be asking our fellow Scottish makers for their recommendations of where to visit in our gorgeous country. Anthony said “I have one or two places in Scotland that I love for their remoteness and it would be foolish of me to reveal their location, but I love all of Scotland with it’s range and variety of landscapes, seascapes and town-scapes. From the turquoise seas and silvery sand beaches of the Uists, Lewis and Harris to the dramatic valleys of Glencoe, to the towering mountains of the Cairngorms, for me to choose one is impossible.”
Thanks so much to Anthony for taking the time to chat to us about his fascinating business & his beautiful products. Find Barrhead Leather products on Facebook under Barrhead Leather or on their website barrhead-leather.co.uk.
We hope you are inspired by this blog to look for more Scottish made products, there are so many fabulous businesses out there who are working hard to keep Scottish manufacturing alive. Keep an eye on our blog as we will be highlighting more businesses who make their products in Scotland throughout 2020. And do let us know your favourite Scottish makers in the comments, we’d love to find new Scottish businesses to support this year!