Last week I was invited to visit the Osprey London flagship store on Regent Street, just by Piccadilly station. I was treated to a personal tour of the store, followed by tea and cake served on vintage china.
Osprey is a brand I knew nothing about. The company was founded by Graeme Ellisdon in 1980 with an investment of just £500 to make hand-stitched leather belts. Now, with eight stores and outlets in the UK and a booming online shop, the company is still wholly independent.
The Regent Street store opened in April 2014 in what was originally a Barclays Bank. The space is vast with high ceilings and original features upstairs, while downstairs the old bank vaults have been opened up to display the lifestyle collections, as well as a bijou café and a great space to relax, away from the London mayhem above.
The staircase, I’m told, took 300 hours to install and was handmade. Everything here exudes class and elegance.
The store has several collections. Graeme’s vision and taste runs through everything the company sources and sells – from hand-crafted jewellery to furniture, leather goods to olive oil.
The ladies and men’s gloves are made from the softest buttery leather. Candles and incense sticks have a musky, mature smell without being overpowering. The iconic rugby ball wash bags now come with coloured stitching down the seams to bring the range up to date.
For the man who has too many watches – a leather watch box is a great gift. Or perhaps a stuffed and mounted tarantula? The ‘home’ range does rather bizarrely include taxidermy. There’s also silver, china and wood for every serving situation, some interesting sculptures and lighting, as well as furniture – classic shapes with some modern fabrics and colours.
Of course, my eye was drawn to the handbags. These are really reasonably priced for their high quality materials and styles. The Georgie range in polished calf leather comes in several bright colours to beat off the winter blues. And there are several styles in croc leather that come in bold, rich shades. The bags are structured rather than slouchy – great for iPad or laptops and the clutches are large. The interiors are beautiful too, with floral or patterned lining.
A few of my favourites are:
The Cavendish Clutch – £225
The Tango Clutch – £195
The Maudie – £245
and The Myers – £225 (love the purple)
For men, there are messenger bags for the creative types or more traditional briefcases. Prices range from £995 for a structured briefcase, to £145 for a soft saddle bag from the diffusion range.
Osprey is a very British brand, traditional, yet quirky. It has a beautiful flagship store and I’ll be making use of the sanctuary downstairs next time I’m in the heart of town.