In Focus: The Holly 

A huge favourite in the Tusting portfolio and one that never gets tired, the Holly is inspired by the 1950s top-handled styles made famous by icons like Grace Kelly and Jackie Onassis – this is the ultimate piece of arm candy.

Curvy, pretty and unashamedly feminine, the Holly leather handbag is handcrafted from premium, full-grain leathers and comes in a rainbow of colours perfect for every occasion. We have made this bag for several years now, introducing new shades to the collection every season.

With the exception of our tan Holly, which comes in smooth Atlantic leather, the bags are made in Pebblestone leather. Pebblestone creates tumbled effect that offers up flexibility and strength, whilst also lending the bags an extra hint of vintage charm.  

What Holly owners say

 “I love that my Holly changes the look of what I am wearing, to something with a little character and cheekiness. It’s small enough for a girly profile (can I say feminine?) but deceptively large that I’m not struggling to squeeze in essentials and making it bulky. 

“Carrying the Holly makes me feel a little bit like Audrey Hepburn! Its petit, chic, modern and classic. The magical part is that it’s so neat and seemingly small but yet can take so much stuff… a big purse, phone, lippy and still room for keys tickets etc! Genius. I’d actually like a few more in different colours… 

Our Hollys have the curves and glamour of a 1950s starlet, the top-handle bringing some old school glamIf it feels too dainty, you can sporty things up a little with the detachable cross-body shoulder strap. The turn-lock fastening is discreet and simple and reassuringly secure. With their flap top and curved shape, the bags are surprisingly spacious with enough room for your keys, wallet, phone, notepad/diary (some of us still carry them, right?)lippy and mascara, but should you need a touch of extra room, you can release a little extra space by undoing the side poppers.  

Holly recently had a revamp on the inside, with the super smooth Alcantara microsuede lining bringing a tactile sense of lux when rummaging inside. Having said that, the design and details are neat and the size of both our mini and regular versions is such that you can keep things tidy. The internal slip and zip pockets mean that you can keep essential bits like your bank card or driver’s license nice and secure, a real bonus if you prefer to head out wallet-free, and a detachable key fob spares you frustration if the larger size still manages to hide your keys. 

Get Closer 

Without actually holding a Holly in your hand, it can be tricky to fully appreciate her curves, construction and the satisfying curves of the leather in your hand. Worry not though, Gillian Tusting gives a little video-tour of the Holly in the video below.

Shop the Holly Here 

A huge favourite in the Tusting portfolio and one that never gets tired the Holly is inspired by the 1950s top-handled styles made famous by icons like Grace Kelly and Jackie Onassis – this is the ultimate piece of arm candy. 

In Focus: The Marston Briefcase

An exercise in stylish simplicity, the Marston briefcase is one of our long-standing best-selling styles.
Understated, sleek and quiet in design yet highly functional, this is a true workhorse.

Like many of our designs, the Marston evolved in response to customer demand, in this case, from discerning businessmen in Japan who asked for a more formal outline than our satchel cases. Over the years that we’ve been making it, the Marston has become one of our best-selling bags and has been featured in many an article featuring the best leather briefcases, ranging from serious functional matters discussed by Business Insider to more stylistic concerns addressed by GQ Magazine.

What Marston owners say:

“This case is absolutely beautiful and professional looking. Upon using it the first day I began receiving compliments on the quality and the look of the case.”

“I started a new job and this was a present from my partner. A fantastic piece of workmanship, high quality and looks great in Black.”

Last year, we gave our Marston a full design upgrade on the inside to make sure it was delivering all the functionality needed for today’s business lifestyle.

A fully padded sleeve pocket cares for up to a 15-inch laptop in the regular-sized case and 13-inch device in the smaller bag. That leaves the main compartment clear, but with a padded floor in case you need to carry extra shock-sensitive stuff. There are two generous slip-pockets sized to hold smaller items – phones, passports, wallets or cables etc and a further small leather slip-pocket that will do the same. Then we also have a large zipped pocket on the inside wall of the bag for things that must stay extra secure.

The outside of the bag has two full-width slip pockets that take papers, newspapers or anything else you might need quick access to.

The main body of the bag is secured by a strong swiss zip (we only use Riri zips – the Rolls Royce of zippers) with tabs that can be snapped down onto the bag for a nice clean finish. And everything is stitched down strongly to withstand a very busy life. Further, our construction method for the Marston is such that the parts most likely to show wear through a busy life can be repaired – the handles, binding, zip and metal fittings can all be replaced if a Marston needs an overhaul down the line.
(For more on our repair service, click here.)

As with all our bags, only premium, full-grain leathers are used, which means they are as naturally robust as possible. Any scratches acquired can usually be polished out but, in any case, will mellow into the leather’s patina that will build as the bag ages and softens into life with its owner.

Get Closer

Without actually getting one of these beauties in your hands to turn it over, breathe in the gorgeous leather smell and inspect the craftsmanship for yourself, the next best thing you can do is watch this little story to see a film of Alistair Tusting giving his personal tour of the Marston.

Watch Here

Shop the Marston Here

The Tusting Marston Leather Briefcase – get deep into the detail in this article.

Tusting Featured on BBC News

The BBC looked to Tusting this week for insight into the challenges facing Britain’s companies as lockdown eases and we get back to a little semblance of normality with our production.



We were also featured on BBC Three Counties Radio when Alistair Tusting was interviewed in more detail about the challenges we have. He talks about getting to grips with the difficulty of operating a manufacturing facility where our staff normally work closely together and the wider context of the government support for businesses.

Listen here:

Scrubbing In

How Tusting is contributing to the Covid-19 Cause
and helping the NHS with the PPE Shortage

Whilst we may have been forced to down tools on our leather goods production in recent weeks, the Tusting workshop has nonetheless been a hive of activity at times, thanks to the volunteer efforts of our lovely staff and their commitment to helping the Covid-19 cause and the frontline workers at Bedford Hospital.

Our team has already cut hundreds of scrub sets, to be made up by the local sewing community, and this week they have commenced work on surgical gowns too. In order to accomplish the task of cutting a large volume of gowns, company chief, Alistair Tusting, went over to the workrooms of our sister company, Budd Shirtmakers in Andover at the weekend where, assisted by a few heavy lifters, he promptly dismantled the company’s band knife machine and transported it back to our Lavendon HQ in order to borrow it for the job – a Herculean feat!

The Tusting team is now in the throes of cutting 1000 surgical gowns from non-woven textile which has been donated to the cause by Zhagum Arshad’s Loft 25 Ltd, a Birmingham-based furnishings company which has also been contributing hugely to the NHS cause in their hometown.

These will be disposable gowns for single-use purposes, and this will be swiftly followed by over 500 machine washable gowns, made possible thanks to the efforts of the historic Scottish fabric company, and the long-term supplier of our own canvas fabrics, Halley Stevensons.

Halley has a global reputation for its robust fabrics, especially its waxed cotton materials, but as the scale of the Covid-19 crisis and the shortage of PPE equipment became apparent, its fabric-finishing processes have been diverted from their typical work, to the production of specialist cloths, pioneered to meet the specific health and safety needs of hospital workers.

Halley Stevenson was contacted by Tayside NHS Hospital and Dundee University to produce cloth that would be suitable for the manufacture of 5000 pairs of scrubs, also to be made locally. The fabric needed for these had to be cool, durable, and suitable to withstand the stringent laundering process required for such garments. After just a week and a half of development and testing, a densely woven 140g Supima cotton was selected and sanforised. This is a heat and pressure-driven shrinkage process which compacts and stabilises the cloth so that it can stand up washing at high temperatures. Appropriately, the cloth has been christened Tayside Teal.

Scrubs fabric achieved, the next requirement was for a cloth that could be used for surgical gowns. Ordinarily made as disposable PPE garments, today’s critical shortages have called for innovative gowns that can be worn multiple times. By taking the Tayside Teal fabric, applying a water repellent finish and then re-sanforising it, Halley Stevenson has succeeded in producing a cloth that can withstand up to 12 washes and yet retain full water repellency. This has been trialled successfully by the local NHS laundry at Tayside and the first batch of cloth has now been delivered to Tusting. So, our team is now busy cutting both disposable and reusable gowns.

The unfaltering commitment shown by our NHS and all of its employees, as well as other frontline and key workers across the land, has inspired in us not only a sense of pride, unity and compassion but a need to give back and make our own positive contribution to the cause. Our thanks go not only to our own lovely staff for their wholehearted enthusiasm, but also to the huge and expanding team of stitchers, Bedford Hospital Charity & Friends, Queens Park Community Orchard, Colum and Eric Masih and Dr Robert Oakley who have all thrown their weight behind coordinating this project.

We are so pleased to be able to provide assistance to the frontline community as best we can and for as long as is required but hope, for the sake of all of us, that our role will be short-lived, and that normal service will resume as quickly as possible, signalling better times ahead. Stay well, stay safe.


Stop Press!

We thought we would share this certificate, awarded to Tusting by the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in recognition of our services to the community and the Bedford Hospital. We were honoured and flattered by the surprise arrival of this, though our contribution is nothing compared to the dedication of the amazing front line workers that we’re helping to protect.

Do You Know Your Full-grain from Your Bovine Splits?

Do you ever wonder why some leather-goods last longer and age way better than others? There are many reasons of course, but one of them is undoubtedly the quality of the leather. You may have noticed that we describe our leathers as ‘full-grain’ – here we discuss just the difference between a ‘full-grain’ and a ‘split leather’ or ‘bovine splits’.

The explanation lies first in understanding the layers of the leather itself. As a raw hide, the whole thickness of the skin is comprised of three key layers. On the inside, the ‘Flesh’ layer has quite a tight structure of fibres, making a strong inner skin for the animal. The middle layer, which forms the greatest thickness of the hide, is the Corium. The fibres in this layer are more disorganised and open in structure – it’s purpose in life is to be the superhighway for supplies for the skin, and to provide thickness and a cushioned barrier for the animal. The upper layer of the hide is the bit we see on the outside, it carries the hair follicles and protects the animal from abrasions and drying out – the fibres are tightly knit to provide a really resilient surface – it’s called the Grain.

Not All Leather is Equal

Having established these layers, it’s fairly reasonable to expect that full-grain leather should retain the full Grain of the hide, and it does. You might think all leather does, but that’s where it gets tricky, because not all leather is full-grain leather. In fact, an awful lot of leather is not, especially the leather that is used to make bags. And the retail price is not always a fair guide to the quality of the leather used.

The Leather Splitting Machine

This is because the thickness of the original hide is such that it can actually be split into two useable layers. With the aid of a fearsome machine called (maybe a little unimaginatively) a Splitter, leather can be divided along its horizontal plane, in effect peeling the top from the bottom, giving two full, just thinner, pieces from the first. The layer with the Grain becomes the ‘full-grain leather’ and the remainder becomes the Split.

Satchel Leather

The invention of the splitting machine gave us a whole new way of being more efficient with our hides. Prior to this, the grain was always the focus, and leather was thinned by hand by progressively shaving off ultra-thin layers from the back (flesh side) with a very sharp blade – in much the same process as planing wood. The splitter revolutionised this slow and painstaking process, but also gave us ‘split leather’, or in the case of cow hides, ‘bovine splits’ (which is not, as it turns out, an advanced yoga pose for cows).

The splitting machine cuts beautifully, giving a super-flat surface to the back of the full-grain piece and on the new ‘top’ of the Split. The Split can now also be used as leather, but there is one key difference – without the grain, it is much more fragile than it was. Lacking the tight fibre structure of the grain layer, the split leather is now much less resilient and can tear easily, so it must retain a reasonable thickness to be useful. However, its new top surface can be extensively treated to improve its appearance.

By coating it in a thick layer of pigment, or, more typically, a plasticised paint or polyurethane (PU) finish, which can also be embossed with a grain pattern, the Split can be made to look almost exactly like full-grain leather. The emergence of the electric splitting machine gave us the first mass use of these splits – in school satchels – back in the 1950s, every schoolchild had one. Nowadays we see everything from this ‘satchel leather’ to extremely convincing saffiano or croc-prints that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing – but only when new.

Resilience and Character

Given that these coated and printed Splits can look so good, what would be the problem in using them? Well, as with so many things in life, quality tends to come to the fore, even if it takes a while. The far greater strength and flexibility of full-grain leather allow it to yield to movement in all directions and yet rebound and recover its shape with no damage. And the more natural the finish on such leather, the more it will polish and patina with use over the years. Split leather, on the other hand, will be less flexible and its surface can’t patina – instead, it is more likely to peel or wear off, progressively losing its newness but without replacing it with character as a full-grain leather will.

Additionally, full-grain leather can be split down to less than a millimetre and yet still retain amazing tear strength whilst becoming as soft and pliable as a fine fabric. This is essential in the making of fine leather-goods which require the leather to be skived very thin where the layers overlap, in order to achieve the desired finesse in the quality of the manufacture.

In this video, Gillian demonstrates the use of the splitting machine we have here at the Tusting workshop and shows how different full-grain leather is from split leather.


We are always very happy to answer your queries regarding our leathers, so if this article has sparked a question for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Tusting Spring Sample Sale

Saturday 14th March 2020, 10am to 4pm

Come along to our exclusive sample sale here at the Tusting factory. There will be brilliant bargains on all sorts of bags, including overstocks, end of lines and samples not seen on our website at any time. We will also be offering 10% off standard stock on the day to those who attend!

The address is:
The Tannery Warehouse
29-31 Olney Road
MK46 4EU
We look forward to seeing you between 10am and 4pm on SATURDAY ONLY.


Five Minutes with Stephen Murphy

Stephen Murphy is the Chairman of Authentic Bespoke, the investment group that has our back here at Tusting and which focuses on protecting and promoting microbrands with an artisanal focus. He has a genuine love of life on the shop floor and craftsmanship, and is possibly one of Tusting’s best ambassadors.

You have a strong work ethic, which you also try to instil in your three sons. What was your first job?
I worked as a gardening assistant when I was 10.

What did you think you would be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a fireman. I used to love burning leaves and spraying the garden hose.

What do you do now?
I take care of the corporate finance aspects of Authentic Bespoke (acquisitions, fundraising, shareholders/ board level matters) and keep a watching brief on the US and Budd Shirtmakers in London, looking at the areas that my co-founder Rebecca cannot always fully cover. The job is really to think more about the current and future external forces that impact our businesses.

How did you end up where you are today?
Really because I am a slow learner! It has taken me about 30 years to accumulate the experience, network and soft skills required to be effective and productive.

How has your workspace changed over the years?
Profoundly. I started full-time work with just a small box, moving from desk to desk (due to a lack of desks in my M&A Department) at Salomon Brothers on the 42nd floor of One New York Plaza, where I started out as a financial analyst. Today, I work out of a quiet studio beside a church and graveyard in London’s Chelsea. The latter gives me peace and excellent space to think (we even used it for a recent Tusting photoshoot) but is also a reminder to hurry up because the clock is ticking.

How does what you carry to work today differ to times gone by?
My bag is much lighter. It usually contains a notebook, pen and phone, extra phone charger and business cards and likely a presentation.

What is your bag or accessory of choice for all this?
I tend to carry the above in my Westminster folio case. It is petite but does the job and looks good. There is definitely a lot to be said for the advances in technology that allow us to travel light and I could not live without my Notebook.  If I have a little more to carry, I like the casual elegance of my canvas Explorer bag.

Essential accessory?
My mobile phone. Like all of us, I would say I am far too dependent on it.

Dress-down Fridays? Yes or no?
No. We should dress up more on Fridays so you can go out directly after work and look fantastic.

How often do you travel?
Once a month on average for work and pleasure.

Favourite destinations?
The US national parks, Egypt and Ireland.

Best travel memory?
My tours of the US with my wife Suzy.

Tips when packing for a trip?
Do it the night before and look at the destination weather forecast.

Travel essentials?
Washbag, a Tusting one in leather.

The skill you would have liked to learn?
Languages, especially Arabic and Spanish

Things I wish I had known when I started out?
To be more goal-focused rather than experience focused.

How do you save?
I invest which keeps me from spending.

What about Tusting makes you tick?
Its authenticity and its potential.

What three Tusting pieces would you pick if you had the choice?
The Hingham weekender from the Century collection, a bespoke Goldington trolley case that I am currently having made (an Ellsworth Kelly red colour!) and a valet tray. I probably need one of those wherever I go or stay.

With three sons, how does the hand-me-down game work? Survival of the fittest?
No, it’s who is nicest to either me or Suzy!

How are the New Year resolutions going?

The start of the year brings with it a host of best-laid plans. For many, this includes getting healthier and fit… whether this pertains to eating better, eating less, subscribing to some extortionate gym membership or joining the local sports or golf club – we do our best to better ourselves. February often brings a little bit of raw reality as the January motivation starts to wain… This doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a pat on the back though.

Whether it’s a visit to the gym, golf course or the rugby club, we believe investing in quality kit is important. With so many people arriving or leaving in their work attire, fitting their gym/club visits in as part of their weekday routine, and in many cases, part of the daily commute, means a bag that complements their look is essential.

This is where our range of leather or canvas-and-leather hold-alls come into their own. Handsome and functional, each bag will excel in any establishment, whilst being soft and small enough to squish down and fit within a locker if needs be.

So, whether you’re a newly-resolved convert to the gym/golf club or a habitual attendee who didn’t need a resolution anyway, we propose that you deserve a smart new bag.

The justification?

If you’re the newly resolved convert, give yourself a reward to help you keep at it. If you’re the habitual attendee who didn’t need a resolution anyway, after all this time a reward is frankly overdue!

But if a health and fitness splurge didn’t fit with your already-heaped-full life, it’s clear you need a break and a weekend jaunt is well overdue (make sure to take a good bag with you)!

Now we’ve established the necessity, choose between the compact yet surprisingly roomy Hemington for its tumbled leather and metropolitan overtones or Chellington for its heritage vibe. The Hingham, the newest member of the family, is larger and has a luxury, contemporary and directional look. For those after a lived-in, rugged stance, the at-ease nonchalance of our Weekender and Explorer bags with their relaxed leather or canvas bodies with leather trims will hit the mark. They also have the option of being available in multiple sizes, perfect should you have signed up to a class requiring plenty of kit (Fencing or kickboxing, anybody?). Of course, you could also travel really light with our do-it-all Chelsea Tote.

Whether you do, or do not, set yourself new year’s resolutions, and whether you keep them or break them, the thing to know is that ours is always the same, year after year – to make bags that do the job brilliantly, look inviting and luxurious and which will stand by you whatever direction your own promises take you in. You definitely deserve a companion like that.

Discover our holdall collection

Choosing between a backpack and a briefcase in today’s luxury market

Perhaps it is the metrosexual lifestyle of today’s man, but the bags we carry to work and what we put in them has changed. As the digital age has taken over, gentlemen no longer require the solid sided briefcases of old, infact briefcases in their most traditional sense seem a little novel when seen out and about today. Bags have become not necessarily smaller, but softer and more style driven. What your bag looks like can also say an awful lot about who you are.

Backpacks Meet Luxury

Backpacks have had a major makeover in recent years, no longer nylon vessels for life on the go and students. They have smartened up their act, working for today’s executives as a result of the broad selection of designs, styles and leathers on offer. Leathers are lightweight and luxurious, conceived to be taken seriously and carry plenty of style-conscious sway. Browsing men’s bag departments today, there is almost as much choice in backpacks as there is for more conservative and traditional work bags. Tusting has noticed this increased appetite in recent years, responding to the growth with the release of its new Century backpacks, two differently styled bags conceived for the demands of today.

There are plenty of advantages with backpacks, but some pointers to remember when using them too, in order not to drive those around you crazy.

Backpacks allow you to be hands free and can be very liberating. They are great for those who get around by bike, motorbike or scooter. They are also capacious, allowing you to stuff them full and carry everything you need to see you through the day, from your gym kit to your laptop, without having to carry an extra bag. They also distribute weight very effectively, meaning that when you are fully loaded, you stay comfortable too. Bye bye back pain! Whatever your age, your backpack will set an active and youthful overtone. You’ll look like a man on the move, whether you are an Iron Man or Sofa Man type. To coin the words of Aldous Huxley, “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

With the plus side dealt with, here are some tips for overcoming the negative aspects of backpack use:

  • When in an office environment or a restaurant etc and not on the go, take your backpack off. This stops you looking like you are trying to make your way out the door or in a hurry and demonstrates a readiness to focus on proceedings.
  • Be considerate and remove your backpack when in a lift or a tight space such as the Tube or Subway. Shunting people with your backpack will irritate and demonstrates a lack of awareness for the personal space of others. Think Big Bird in a phonebox. We have all experienced somebody’s bag knocking us in the face or hampering proceeds, we have all felt the resentment build!
  • There is an unspoken informality associated with backpacks. Overcome this by packing it wisely and moderately, so as not to come across as disorganised or dishevelled. Follow the rules above for when to use your bag at its most practical and when to take it off.
  • Be mindful that your backpack can cause a little sweating. Wear natural fibres and again, take it off your back from time to time to allow your skin to breathe.

Many gentlemen will forever remain faithful to the briefcase or messenger bag camp when it comes to their daily commute companion, their benefits unbridled and their versatility ample. Choose between compact and minimalist, for those who travel light and work with streamlined tools, or larger, compartmentalised bags to maintain order and offer instant access. With a bag or briefcase you can instantly see where everything is, and reach for what you need without revealing the contents of your bag first. We believe there is a place for both and celebrate the pantheon of bags and styles available to the modern man. Let your environment dictate what works best for you, or even just your diary.

Our bags offer great scope and plenty of options. They are heritage bags that are built to last, creating their own unique stories whilst at your side. Choose between the contemporary yet classic lines of our luxurious new Century collection or from the iconic British staples found in our business and travel bag portfolio.

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