Fashion: In the bag with the Cambridge Satchel Company


By Lisa Millard


Adored by celebrities the world over and sold by the most chi-chi of stores internationally, the satchel brand that has so spectacularly conquered the fashion world is Cambridge born and bred.

Launched by Julie Deane in an attempt to increase her income to move her daughter, who was being bullied, to a different school, the Cambridge Satchel Company started life at the kitchen table with Julie’s mum on hand to help. In just five years it was a booming business and the British-manufactured satchels inspired by the Harry Potter films were decorating the arms of A-listers in London, New York and Paris. It’s quite a story and even attracted Google which made an advert featuring Julie’s story and her much-loved family dog Rupert.

Julie, now an OBE, can hardly believe it herself: “Oh my gosh how are we 10? And where did that time go? What an amazing decade it has been – from collaborations with Comme des Garçons, Vivienne Westwood and the Rolling Stones to visiting Buckingham Palace. To start a business with £600 from a kitchen table, with no network or industry contacts, to now working with iconic British brands and having five UK stores that are performing exceptionally well is something to be truly proud of.”

It’s not all been a Cinderella story though. There was the time when Julie’s then manufacturer sold bags copying her designs under a different name that led to her having to set up a new factory in days to manufacture some 18,000 bags on back order. Hard work and tenacity paid off and Julie remains unfazed.

VELVET MARCH CSC 2010 comme (7179172)
VELVET MARCH CSC 2010 comme (7179172)

“The biggest lesson I have learned how much influence the person leading the company has on the whole organisation. When I’m really excited, optimistic and brave in doing what I want that is when it goes well. This company started with my vision and it has to continue with my vision. It doesn’t fit into any mould, and it would be a mistake to copy what other people are doing. This company works because it is different.”

Family inspired Julie to launch the Cambridge Satchel Company and it is her son who is behind her favourite bag out of all the collections. “It’s the 15” Batchel in dark brown. My son bought me this bag when he was 7 years old. He had noticed that I only wore the satchels that were seconds or unable to sell. He said ‘you are the owner of this company and should wear the best satchel, not the worst one’. He saved up his pocket money doing odd jobs around the house and bought this particular satchel off our website (my mum cut him a deal). He had it embossed with a ‘J’ as he was only able to afford one letter. Now it is 10 years old, very soft and the workhorse of all my bags – it carries everything, still looks great and it the ultimate classic satchel.”

A decade of the Cambridge Satchel Company

VELVET MARCH CSC doctor 2019 (7179163)
VELVET MARCH CSC doctor 2019 (7179163)

2019 The Doctor’s Bag

Launching in March the Doctor’s Bag has been six years in the making and marks the first Premium Collection. Well worth the wait

VELVET MARCH CSC Emily 2018 (7179412)
VELVET MARCH CSC Emily 2018 (7179412)

2018 The Emily

The new work-wear tote bag designed to celebrate 10 years of satchels is named after the young woman who inspired the company, Emily

VELVET MARCH CSC Daisy 2017 (7179395)
VELVET MARCH CSC Daisy 2017 (7179395)

2017 The Daisy

The Audrey Hepburn of bags – classic, classy and timeless

VELVET MARCH CSC poppy 2016 (7179393)
VELVET MARCH CSC poppy 2016 (7179393)

2016 The Poppy

A handbag based on 60s British fashion – Poppy is the mischievous round-bottomed sister to the structured, flat-footed sister Daisy, favoured by Lady Gaga

VELVET MARCH CSC man 2015 (7179387)
VELVET MARCH CSC man 2015 (7179387)

2015 The man bag

A collection designed for and dedicated to men

2014 Farrow & Ball

A collection of satchels in Farrow & Ball paint colours, including Stiffkey Blue. Only 200 satchels of each colour was produced and each was embossed with the number of the bag

VELVET MARCH CSC westwood 2013 (7179385)
VELVET MARCH CSC westwood 2013 (7179385)

2013 Vivienne Westwood collaboration

A sell-out collaboration with the iconic British designer featuring the famous Vivienne Squiggle print. This marked the first of three collaborations with the Westwood fashion house

2012 The Downing Satchel

Julie wore this satchel to an award ceremony at 10 Downing Street. It remains one of her favourite satchel collections, featuring the classic oxblood and navy colour combination in patent leather

2011 The Fluro collection

Julie was asked by Elle magazine for bright coloured bags and this led to the first every Fluro collection which went viral and was featured on the 2011 New York Fashion Week catwalk

2010 Comme des Garçons collaboration

The first of many fashion collaborations

VELVE MARCH CSC music 2009 (7179170)
VELVE MARCH CSC music 2009 (7179170)

2009 Music Case

This featured the signature metal bar and is a popular workwear design as it holds a laptop and notebook

VELVET MARCH CSC satchel 2008 (7179167)
VELVET MARCH CSC satchel 2008 (7179167)

2008 15” Satchel in Vintage Tan

The very first satchel produced and still a bestseller to this day

See cambridgesatchel.com



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