The Fashion Folk S01 ep9 : David Raymond, Tanner Krolle Fashion, [London]

Interview with David Raymond

This is a vegetable tanned and vegetable dyed leather. The skins come from northern Europe and the tanning and the finishing process is done in England. We have been buying from the same tanneries for over 35 years. It is a labour intensive, hand process. It has natural oil and natural waxes and sometimes the leather blooms with natural whiteness that comes through.


KM: What is Tanner Krolle?

It is one of the oldest English luxury Leather goods companies and we have
been manufacturing in this country since 1856. The name derives from the
family Kroll, and it was Jeffrey Krolle who immigrated from Germany to London
in 1856 to establish the company and as the company evolved through the
1800's to the 1900's Mr. Tanner was a sleeping partner to Mr. Krolle and over
a period of time the company became known as Tanner Krolle.

The evolution of Tanner Krolle has always closely followed travel and the
evolution of travel over the centuries.

KM: SO they were always into travel from the start, like a Louis Vuitton but the
English version?

It is very interesting that the birth date of Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Tanner Krolle
are all in the 1850's and all between 1854 and 1856. So yes we have all
followed a similar evolution in terms of product.

The very first products that Jeffrey Kroll made, he was a master saddle maker
and as simply as the centuries evolved as they moved into steam travel they
started to make the leather bodied suitcases which are very well known, were
all hand stitched in great detail but the bridle leather has always been a
particularly unique point of difference for the brand Tanner Kroll, and it is a
particular English material, it is made in the traditional way.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

KM: What is the difference between that and the leathers used by Hermes or
Louis Vuitton?

This is a vegetable tanned and a vegetable dyed leather using natural
vegetable dyes. The skins come from northern Europe and the tanning
process and the finishing process is done in England. We have been buying
from the same tanneries for over 35 years.

It is a labour intensive, hand process. It has natural oils and natural waxes and
sometimes the leather blooms with natural whiteness that comes through. This
is the natural Tallow, the type of wax that is inside this leather, which actually
acts a protection for this material - it is like a natural polishing agent for it. You
know you would normally polish your shoes, well after maybe a few months of
storage of a bridle piece you may find this natural whiteness will come through
and this would encourage you to brush it back into this which helps in rich
leather and make it long lasting. This also gives a lovely patina to the
colouration of the leather, which is not artificial, and I think that it is a very
beautiful material that is quite unique in the way it is created.

KM: What are you doing here?


My background has been in the leather goods and the luxury leather goods
industry for all of my career. I was recruited into the Tanner Krolle business by
Chanel a few years ago.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Despite the history of our brand it has only been since 1996 that we have
marketed Tanner Krolle on the international stage. People have known about
Tanner Krolle for almost 150 years, and what we have been doing under the
ownership of Chanel is to expand that awareness and to make our products
slightly more accessible to a wider audience. We have done this by opening
our first boutique, which is where we are sitting today, in Bond Street in 1996.

The history of Tanner Krolleis bespoke manufacture of men’s luggage and
travel products as well as business products and it is only recently that we
have introduced women’s products. We have been very successful in it. It now
represents a significant portion of our total business in excess of 70%. To
make one bespoke men’s briefcase, perhaps would take 11 hours of crafting
by one craftsman to create. Each process, in that crafting process, is done by
one master craftsman. It is not a mass-market method of producing.

KM: What are people looking for today in handbags?

I think design is really important but I think functionality is equally important.
Our mans' briefcase handle for example has a particular handle, which we
make with 14 different layers of leather and one of the beautiful benefits of this
that as that gentleman or lady is carrying that briefcase it will mould around her
fingers, so the comfort he or she will derive from that piece the more they wear
it becomes greater.

Jewellery Theatre Elements

KM: One thing that attracted me to your brand was its look. Where does that
look come from? Is that the Tanner Krollelook, which is the more Germanic
look or the Anglo Saxon look?

We had to consider this very point in the lead up to our launch in 1996 when
we opened this boutique and introduced for the first time women’s accessories,
and it was through searching through the archives of Tanner Krolle with an
American designer at the time called Cathy Thornby who was responsible for
the introduction for the first time of ladies products under the Tanner Krolle
brand. We found that there was a reference to the English bridle material, and
a reference to architecture in terms of the form and structure of the Tanner
Krolle products and we this idea of the circle and the square, which is very
simple in itself and this was really the link between the old and the new - there
were references to Bauhouse, architecture generally, have certainly been an

KM: IF you think of today’s traveller, why do you think they are still buying a
leather bag?

Leather to me is one of the most beautiful natural materials and certainly a
Tanner Krolle leather bag is a living breathing natural item. I think that it is this
passion and this beautiful patina and the feel of the quality of leather that
people feel when they carry something that is leather, it will mean that there
will be leather handbags, I’m sure, forever.

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

You know if we delve back into the history of our company we have made
some incredible products. I know that we have made some spy cases.
Because of the way in which we construct our leather attaché cases you can
build in compartments on the inside that nobody would ever be able to find. We
have had some really...

KM: So you have done the James Bond thing!

We have had some James Bond type cases to make. We also made the very
first mobile phone brief case - this is way back I think, in the late 60 or 70's.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: David Raymond, Tanner Krolle Fashion, London