Tusting Talks All Things Bespoke Luggage with Gentleman’s Journal

Jonathan Wells of The Gentleman’s Journal recently wrote a great piece on the enthusiasm that continues to build for special order or bespoke luggage and spoke to Tusting to get some insight for his piece. Here’s the full interview.


Have you seen a rise, as we leave lockdown, in demand for bespoke luggage — and why do you think this is? Are people ‘falling back in love’ with travel and all its accoutrements, as it were? 

During lockdown, we’ve actually seen a big rise in demand for bespoke bags but day-bags rather than luggage, no doubt due to the lack of travel opportunities. They make very special gifts and lockdown has encouraged creative gifting in lieu of visiting I think. Now that travel is once more in view, we expect to see increased orders for bespoke luggage coming through again – there will be special trips being planned that warrant special luggage!

Tusting offers a bespoke service to cater for customers. What sort of things do you offer — is it more a bespoke service for those after individuality in their luggage, or those who need specialist kit for practical concerns? 

We do indeed. It is definitely more of the former type, since we stick, in the main, to our existing basic patterns, but offer a myriad of choices of leather type and colour (or fabric), stitch colour and linings. Whilst we are best placed to advise on the best leathers for each customer’s needs, it’s a collaborative process and we’ve made a number of bags with linings provided by the clients themselves, anything from clan tartans to ornate silk jacquards. Some functional alterations to our patterns are sometimes possible, but it’s not the main thread of our bespoke offer. 

What is the most popular type of bespoke luggage created/the more popular way luggage is custom-built/customised? Do any particular projects you can speak about stand out? 

As we have a wide variety of luggage styles, it’s often just a case of creating a bespoke set in a special leather. Sometimes this will be for a particular purpose, such as fitting in the boot of a certain car. Motoring enthusiasts love that they can order a set of luggage to accessorise a beloved, special or vintage car, and customisations often reference the car itself, such in the choice of colour and also other details – like having the chassis number embossed on each bag. Other than luggage, we find that custom colour-ways for handbags are very popular. 

I’m particularly interested in the archival customisation. How does this work? Is it like when a customer goes into a Savile Row tailor and gets a reproduction of his grandfather’s suit made from the original pattern? 

It would be similar, yes. We have the patterns for every style we have ever made, so we can recreate them even if they are a style we no longer sell. We did this recently for India Hicks – she wanted a recreation of her partner David Flint Wood’s very old and tired Tusting Clipper bag. It needed to be a faithful reproduction, but with some personalisation and also some customisation in the shape of a special leather-free handle since David is actually allergic to leather. All of this was possible and made for a very special gift. 

The monogramming and personalisation is perhaps the most attainable/easiest way for a customer to personalise their luggage — and one Tusting says is popular. Why is such a simple way of making your luggage unique so special? 

The more personal a gift, the more thoughtful it obviously is, and therefore more cherished. It’s inexpensive to emboss a piece with someone’s initials and yet that simple, classic addition makes a piece entirely personal. Our unique message-embossing service is something we developed on order to offer an extra level to the personalisation. It is a more involved process and has to be built into the bag during construction and so has a longer lead-time, but provides an extra-special addition. Both will remind the recipient of the sentiment in the gift each time they use the item and so gives that sentiment longevity – it is a thoughtful and touching way to commemorate special moments and events. 

Read more about our bespoke and personalisation services here.

Tusting Talks to India Hicks

Five Minutes with the Designer, Entrepreneur,
Best-Selling Author, and Mother of Five

We received an amazing reception from our customers to the story we shared recently of the bespoke Clipper that designer, author and broadcaster India Hicks ordered for her partner. So we caught up with India to find out more about her own unconventional story.

In a nutshell, what does luxury mean to you?

My mother told me recently that she felt the greatest form of luxury will be our privacy -And as she has had nearly 92 years of experience in this world I would tend to agree with her.

When Covid gives up grounding us, what are the first three places you would like to visit?

We are lucky here in the Bahamas at the moment because we are able to travel from island to island and now having my children home together with life running at a slightly slower pace we have the opportunity to charter a sailboat and explore some of the uninhabited neighbouring islands that we have not yet discovered, despite living here for 25 years but when further restrictions are lifted I would like to explore South America but before that spend a gentle summer back in my mother’s English garden.


You travel frequently – you must have packing nailed. Do you pack light or throw in the kitchen sink? Any tips for successful packing?

When I pack in a rush I overpack in panic, when I pack thoughtfully, I take just enough and leave the kitchen sink behind. When I was travelling relentlessly for business around America, I would never pack anything that needed ironing, ironing is bullshit when you’re on the road.

Your podcast conversations with your mother have made for extraordinary, fascinating listening and are also incredibly funny. Which of your parents’ grand adventures would you most liked to have been on?

My parents once met Haile Selassie on a trip to Ethiopia. There is an alarming photograph of two magnificent, chained leopards sleeping on the Palace steps when my parents arrived.

They had been advised by his courtiers that they should only converse in French, so they spent many weeks before their ‘audience’ with the Emperor practicing and were almost fluent by the time they were presented. At the end of their time together the Emperor turned to them and said ‘Thank you so much for being my guests, how delighted we are that you visited us’ in perfect English, without a hint of an accent. Clearly there had been no need at all for them to study French!

To find India’s podcasts, click here.

What do you wish people knew about The Bahamas? How they can support the islands after the devastation from the hurricane?

There is so much to discover in the Bahamas beyond the golden sand beaches and the turquoise waters and the swaying palm trees. But nearly two years ago a devastating hurricane hit the Bahamas and destroyed neighbouring islands and ripped out the swaying palm trees and brought in a tsunami wave across the islands and covered the golden sands in appalling amounts of debris which to this day are still being cleaned up.

There are people still living under canvas tents, there are children who still have not got back into school, there are family members still missing and unaccounted for.

The world is so fragile at the moment we see so many natural disasters that the media’s attention and the world’s focus moves quickly on from one disaster to the next. I have tried to keep the relief work that is happening in the Bahamas top of my mind and my family’s mind, as a result this Christmas we set up an initiative to give computers to those kids in Abaco who had no access to online learning and I continue to work with the disaster relief agency who remain on the ground helping those communities. Any donation to this foundation made today will help change the life of someone tomorrow.

Donations can be made here.

Was David’s Clipper bag the only Tusting piece your family own? Which piece would you choose next?

The bag I have just commissioned and created for David as a wedding gift (when will that day ever come?) is an updated version of a much loved, much carried, much-used satchel David bought from Tusting many moons ago – We both love the thick canvas and hand-stitched leather details, so I am drawn to The Walton backpack, as I can never resist anything that has a strong safari-style, a hint of English Patient and a lot of dusty romance.

Find out more about the Walton Backpack here

What is your oldest and most faithful accessory?

Does my three-legged dachshund count? Banger has been with me for 13 years, we are utterly faithful to each other.


Any other favourite items you couldn’t live without?

Running shoes. Wherever I am in the world.


What’s your favourite mode of transport on Harbour Island?

We just moved from golf cart to Vespa.

In Focus: The Millbrook

Backpacks have been around for the best part of 100 years, existing in almost unlimited iterations, from the most basic nylon to the most expensive designer vanity piece, but few have as much personality as our new Millbrook. Sitting nicely between our Seaton and Clifton backpacks, it’s the epitome of simple luxury. Although understated, the generosity of the interior and the adroitness of the craftsmanship cannot be overstated. The Millbrook is enduring, perfect for those with a varied life who are subjected to the ebbs and flows of the modern day. As we prepare ourselves for the (unusually welcome!) moment when we can swap our short stroll to the home office for our daily commute rather further afield, the Millbrook becomes the ultimate companion.  

We’ve chosen to offer the Millbrook in a choice of our two most luxurious leathers – the rich Chestnut tone of our fully vegetable-tanned Italian grainy leather, Elba, or the unctuously soft Montanasoft leather in Black, or Pewter and Chocolate combination  

Our Elba leather is the modern Italian-luxury equivalent of traditional saddle leather. Sturdy and genuine, Elba leather shrugs off the bumps and scrapes of daily life and quickly develops its own beautiful patina, making each bag more personal and unique to you over time.  

Made in Germany, the Montanasoft is an aniline-dyed (dyed-through) leather crafted using modern tanning techniques to achieve its exceptionally soft and buttery feel, without compromising on strength, endurance or resilience. 

Both are premium, full-grained leathers that are created to really last and complement the strong construction of the Millbrook.  

The styling of the Millbrook is pared back, with a single zipped compartment and an exterior front slip pocket. Lined in our Century collection’s air-force blue jacquard twill and embellished with elegant gold or silver T-motifs to match the cleverly aligned zip, the Millbrook is as stylish as it is functional. 

The generous interior boasts a myriad of pockets: padded laptop slip pocket, a zipped security pocket and two smaller slip pockets, in addition to the large internal compartment. The densely padded straps ensure comfort on the go, wherever you go. Whether you’re carrying a laptop, an encyclopaedia or the anxieties of an upcoming meeting, the Millbrook will be your partner in crime. If you decide to load up or keep it light, the Millbrook will remain sturdy, effortless and chic.  

Named after the famous automotive testing ground a short distance from the Tusting factory, our Millbrook embodies a similar ethos. It’s a distillation of our continuous quest to provide our customers with the optimum balance of form and function, resulting in brilliant performance.

Flirting between the lines of luxury and simplicity, the Millbrook is a testament to Tusting’s craft: timeless and classic in silhouette, luxurious and meticulous in construction, effortless and stylish in practice.


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