We know a huge amount of the world’s goods are made in Asia. After having lived here for 5 years, although still extremely ignorant, I think I have been exposed (at least a little bit) to the exceedingly poor conditions in which a lot of the fast fashion industry’s products are made. Having said that, I am aware that Thailand is significantly better than some, but a few class field trips to the industrial parks with my University have me horrified to think what “bad” must be.
With this in mind, you can see how I get very excited about something that was not only made in a respectable way, but in a way that I would be proud to share. When I found Charlie Middleton, I knew it was just that!
I discovered this accessories brand on Instagram (duh, like everything else) and was very intrigued. The bags are all handmade in Sidney, by one man named Ben. Not only are they architecturally oh-so-appealing, but they’re on trend & timeless too. Win!
Does anyone remember that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean 1 when Will Turner (Orland Bloom) is a blacksmith, wearing a loose linen top, working in the dusty workshop? And he looks super hot? Well, that’s kind of how I’m picturing the Charlie Middleton studio in Bondi. Probably not so accurate, but it’s a nice fantasy. 😛
Point being, every time I pick up my tote I get a little tingle thinking about the fact that this leather tote was put together by one man, in the middle of the city, who has a true passion for what he is doing. Now THAT is something to be proud to carry.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask Ben a few questions (via Email). Although I was originally going to work his answers into the content of my post, he came back with such eloquent writing I simply couldn’t change a thing! Here’s what Ben had to say:
What is a bit of the process involved with making your bespoke tote bags?
Each Tote is handmade to order in our Bondi studio. I only use cow hide for the body and a vegetable tanned saddlery cowhide for the handles. This ensures that they are extremely strong and will withstand whatever is loaded in them.
The handles are cut, edges beveled and then hand polished. Once the body is cut, everything is stitched together and the final step is to add the customer’s choice of studs on the handle: Silver, Gold or Rose Gold, and voila, one Bespoke Tote Bag.
How did you start with Charlie Middleton?
I’ve always loved creating and being hands on. I’ve had many careers that have led me to this point, including my formative years as a carpenter and even writing for a magazine.
Around ten years ago I decided to start a clothing label, which I designed and produced here in Sydney. A few years later I decided to branch out into belts and with that first foray into accessories, so began my love affair with leather.
What inspires your designs?
My inspiration comes from vintage design and leather itself – it’s like no other material on earth and I just love working with it.
Who is Charlie Middleton?
It’s a bit of funny story really. I was stumped for words when creating my first Hotmail account back in the ‘90s. So as you do, paired my first dog’s name with the name of the street I was living on (yes, this was also the same way of working out your stripper/porn alias). And as they say, the rest was history.
Well, now that I officially have a crush on a man I’ve never met…and you probably do to, I’m going to leave it at that. Happy Sunday!
Photos by Pop Devahastin