Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

I'm always thinking of ways to make the journey easier: Globe-Trotter designer Charlotte Seddon

Globe-Trotter designer Charlotte Seddon speaks about the process of design, her inspirations and the brand's 120-year-old heritage

Published: Jun 17, 2017 06:29:41 AM IST
Updated: Jun 20, 2017 04:50:48 PM IST

I'm always thinking of ways to make the journey easier: Globe-Trotter designer Charlotte Seddon Image: Globe-Trotter (Andrew Hobbs)

Q. Globe-Trotter’s latest collection has an old suitcase at the heart of it. How did it come about?

The story started when I discovered a vintage case in our archives. We have an array of cases from the past 120 years, but when I opened this particular one, I was amazed and excited to see a beautiful montage of travel stickers covering the entire inside of the lid. This was my starting point, my mood board and inspiration for the SS17 collection.

The next step was to find out who the case belonged to. We traced it back to the British Airways Heritage Museum, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, and arranged a visit. This further inspired the collection as it highlighted the history and development of commercial aviation through the ages and provided a link to the original owner—a BOAC air stewardess called Hilary Farish—who had flown with the airline in the 1960s.

Q. What was the most challenging part of bringing this collection to life?
It was possibly the process of applying the narrative of Hilary’s experiences in the collection. I was nervous whether my interpretation of her stories would be communicated through designs, and if I had executed it well enough. The project meant a lot to me and I wanted her blessing and approval. This collection was also our debut presentation at London Fashion Week, so it had to be extra special.

Q. What does Globe-Trotter luggage mean to you in terms of design?
It means so many things, but mostly it comes down to its English manufacturing and provenance. All Globe-Trotter products are made in a factory in Hertfordshire by skilled craftsmen, and especially in today’s industry, I think that is special. Also, the cases look so iconic in style that they have a ‘wow’ factor. They carry a traditional look of design, yet remain modern and unique—they are classic and timeless. Most of all, they epitomise the glamour of travel.

I'm always thinking of ways to make the journey easier: Globe-Trotter designer Charlotte Seddon

Q. How have Globe-Trotter designs changed over the decades with changing modes of travel? Do you need to keep certain trademark design elements in mind while creating new lines?
They have always remained true to their roots in design: The overall shape and core design have not changed. This is something that, as a brand, is important to us. We are always developing the design where we can to suit the modern traveller. For example, we have adjusted the size of the cabin case so that it is small enough to take on board as carry-on luggage, and I designed the Jet Travel Brief to slide over the back of the Trolley Case and sit on top so that it is easy for travelling.

It’s always good to bear in mind size as well as colour, and how we integrate new material into upcoming collections. These aspects are always front-of-mind when we start designing.

Q. How and where do you find inspiration for your designs? What does the process of design involve?
I find inspiration in many ways; usually from travelling. I will always be thinking of ways to make the journey easier. It can range from a long-haul flight, or a beach holiday to the daily commute to the Hertfordshire factory. I also love finding inspiration in my home that is London. I particularly love visiting markets and galleries, which are always a rich source of inspiration.

The process of design will always start with research and then design. The favourite is the unique way in which I get to work directly with the sample makers, as the factory is right outside my office door, so we are constantly working together closely.

Q. What was your work on the James Bond movie Spectre?
I worked closely with Jany Temime (the film’s costume designer) on Spectre’s female range, which was named ‘Moneypenny’ in honour of the character of Miss Moneypenny.  It was a great project to be a part of.

Q. What are some of the brand’s most emblematic creations?
Probably the suitcase corners, which are a strong core design that has remained for over 100 years. Also, the vulcanised fibreboard that remains lightweight but incredibly durable.

Q. How do you think a Globe-Trotter customer perceives luggage? How does the brand position itself in the minds of its buyers?

Our customers are sartorially conscious, are intrepid travellers, and perceive luggage to be a reflection of their personality. Some of our customers’ cases show stickers and bruises from many adventures, thus showing great character. I love travelling with my Globe-Trotter as I also get compliments, and that makes me feel special.

Q. Considering Globe-Trotter cases are hand-crafted, tell us about the process… how are they made? How have things changed over time?
The core material for making a Globe-Trotter case is the vulcanised fibreboard. It enters our factory in sheet form, colour-coated, and is cut down to size on our Victorian guillotines. The fibreboard is then heat bent into shapes and the hardware is fitted to construct the case. A moulded leather corner—one of the case’s trademark features—is then applied. Because of the pressure they are put under during the moulding process, the corners need to be trimmed prior to being buffed and inked. The process of having the corners soaked, pressed, dried out and then pressed again takes a total of five days. They are then applied to the case by hand.

For the past 120 years, Globe-Trotter has been manufacturing hand-crafted luggage, with the original design and manufacturing methods changing very little since its Victorian beginnings. So, we are using the same methods and material more than a century on!

Q. What has your experience of designing at Globe-Trotter been like?
Probably the best thing about working at Globe-Trotter has been the opportunity of launching leather goods, and establishing this as a key aspect of each collection.

I’ve also got to travel to some exciting locations like Japan to introduce collections. One memorable moment was when I had to give a presentation wearing a traditional kimono!

Q. What’s next?
We are marking our 120th anniversary this year by looking back at our original factory building on St John’s Street in Clerkenwell as the starting point for the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection. I was particularly inspired by some beautiful tiled brickwork on the facade of the building, so I have taken this pattern and transformed it into an illustrative print and graphic embroidery.

(This story appears in the 23 June, 2017 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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