M&I visited Globe Trotter's factory in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire in early March. Spending a few hours with Gary Bott, creative director of the luxury luggage brand, was one of the highlights of our year so far. Bott proved to be highly knowledgeable on both Globe Trotter's history and the current state of UK made brands.
After catching the train from Liverpool Street in London to Broxbourne (a journey of approximately 25 minutes) we cycled the short distance from the station to the factory, situated on a small industrial estate.
We spent the first couple of hours sat in the foyer of Globe Trotter's headquarters with Mr Bott, discussing everything from British men's design needs to the struggle of finding quality craftsmen. As we sat chatting, our conversation was punctuated by the comings and goings of customers who had dropped by to pick up repaired luggage. Each was greeted by David, the factory manager, and told about the work his team had done. This is the level of service that Globe Trotter gives its loyal customer base, and goes some way to explain why it has such a reputation.
First off we talked about what makes Globe Trotter luggage unique:
"Vulcanised fibreboard is the DNA of the Globe Trotter brand. It’s as strong as leather, as light as aluminium. Up to 80-100 years ago there were other luggage manufacturers using that material, but Globe Trotter is the only UK luggage manufacturer using vulcanised fibreboard today. There is a very old manufacturer in Sweden, called Alstermo Bruk, but they use a material which contains some plastic. We don’t use any plastic, ours is just fourteen layers of paper."
Then on to what British manufacturing stands for today:
"You might think Savile Row for tailoring, Tricker’s for footwear... then you’ve got new guys like Mr Hare coming through. Apart from tailoring and footwear what have we got? You think beautiful handbags and you think Italy. Beautiful small leather goods and you think France. Premium streetwear and denim, you might think Japan. Alot of manufacturing in this country - you do one thing well and use that as a springboard. You look at Brooks for instance, there’s a reason why people covet their saddles."
Part Two of our interview with Mr Bott will be coming soon (honest, it will be.)
Photos of our visit to Globe Trotter's factory are on the M&I Facebook page.