• Searcys Interviews Globe-Trotter Designer Charlotte Seddon

    9 July 2019

    Charlotte Seddon shares her incredible journey working for heritage brand, Globe-Trotter

    How did you end up with a career in the luggage designing industry?

    I studied a degree in Fashion Accessories at Cordwainers, London College of Fashion and for my final collection I focused on luxury travel and Globe-Trotter was one of my case studies. It was serendipity which led me to my job at Globe-Trotter as after graduating I contacted the company to see if there were any opportunities for a young junior designer and luckily for me, they were actually looking to hire somebody at the time to be based at the head office and factory in Broxbourne which is the town I was brought up in. So, in a way, it was meant to be – it was nice to ‘come home’ in a sense.

    While I was at university, I was much more interested in craftsmanship and working with leather, and I remember thinking I would love to work for a company that champions that and manufactures their products in England. I thought, realistically I would end up having no involvement with product development – it was actually so nice to end up in a job which is the complete opposite to that.

    There are just two designers at Globe-Trotter at the moment, and another who works on the artwork, so we are quite a small team. Before I joined there were no designers at all – I was the first ever full-time designer – it was so lucky I couldn’t believe it. I was working in a coffee shop at the time and I would always buy Vogue – the copy of Vogue I happened to be reading that month had a Globe-Trotter feature. So, on my day off I called and because of how small Globe-Trotter was, I went straight through to the creative director! I sent him my work, which he really liked, and after an interview they hired me – it all fell into place quite nicely.

    Charlotte Seddon

    What is your favourite aspect of your role?

    I am really lucky that my office is part of the factory – my office door is literally on the other side of the factory, so I am surrounded by skilled craftsmen which is really inspiring, and it allows me to be very hands on. It can be a little chaotic, especially if we are working towards a deadline, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Most designers wouldn’t work so closely with their factory team, let alone have their own factory, so it really is unique, and I feel very lucky that it is set up this way.

    What materials do you work with and where are they sourced?

    The main body of our suitcases is made from vulcanised fibreboard, which we source from Japan. It is our core material and made of 14 layers of specially bonded paper. It arrives in large sheet form, already colour-coated and it is then cut down to size. Until about a year ago we solely relied on our Victorian guillotines from the 1890s, however, we recently invested in in a more modern-day approach to cutting with a CNC machine. So, there is a mix of old and new which is very much seen in our product. The second most important material is our vegetable-tanned leather. We buy this from various suppliers to mould into corners which make up the very iconic look of our suitcase. We also use leather trim for belts and shoulder straps on smaller cases.

    Provenance is really important to us, so a lot of suppliers who have been with us for years are fairly local to the factory. We use a local screen printer if we ever do any prints onto the cases, and we use another local print company for our printed linings. Building a strong relationship with these suppliers is really important.

    What is at the core of the Globe-Trotter brand?

    Craftsmanship, heritage and travel are at the core of the Globe-Trotter brand. The skilled craftsmen we have in the factory are all based here and that’s really important to us. The core design of Globe-Trotter has been pretty much the same since 1897. The main design DNA hasn’t changed since 1897 – the cases are like a blank canvas so we would never change the core design, but it allows us to build upon and it’s really fun to play around with and experiment with various ideas.

    Have you had any exciting partnerships or customers in the past?

    I’ve narrowed it down to a few; on one hand you have got Kate Moss who is a big fan, and then Sir Paul Smith who we have collaborated with before and we are doing so for a second time. Working with somebody like him – who is such a legend in the fashion design sphere – is quite an experience for me to say the least.

    My favourite partnership was with a BA air stewardess from the 60s. We were looking through our archives at all our cases for inspiration for our Spring/Summer 17 Collection. This particular one jumped out at me – it had all these amazing travel stickers montaged in the lid. It looked so striking and so beautiful, even the way each sticker was placed looked like it had been specifically designed that way. We decided we had to use the case as our inspiration for the season, but firstly we had to find out what their story was. With the help of the British Airways Museum, we found the original owner, Miss Hilary Farish. She told us so many stories about the golden days of air travel – it was so glamorous. The whole collection was so authentic, you see other brands which would probably create something like that, but it was just sitting in our archives. It was just incredible, you couldn’t make it up, and even if you did it probably wouldn’t be as good!

    Globe-Trotter luggage is fairly expensive, what do you see as the main perks of buying expensive luggage?

    It is all handmade in England by skilled artisans. It’s built to last and, unlike cheap, throwaway fashion, it is an investment piece. We also offer a repair service so a lot of the cases that you see in the factory have been passed down through different generations. Some are covered in travel stickers with stories to tell – it can be a very emotional and personal item. Aside from that, they are super unique, iconic in design and timeless. Recently, when I was in LA, somebody asked if they could just touch it which I thought was quite funny. It’s got the ‘wow factor’ about it and I feel special when I am travelling with my case – it is a part of me I suppose.

    What inspired the current seasonal collection, Riviera?

    Riviera came about researching really glamorous images of holidays in the Riviera. We were particularly inspired by retro photographs by Slim Aarons – his photographs are iconic and glamorous. The striped cases are inspired by deckchairs, sun-loungers and parasols. The colours are the sun-washed pastels of coastal villages, ice-cream and the glistening ocean. It has that wonderful holiday feel about it and was a lovely project to work on. We are very excited to see the collection at Searcys ‘The Art of Travel’ summer pop-up which is launching on 15 July and will run until mid-September this year.

    Is there anyone you would love to see with one of your designs?

    I would have to say Phoebe Philo who is my favourite designer. I’ve always loved her work and really respect her as a designer so I would be really happy if I saw her with a Globe-Trotter.

    Which is your favourite Globe-Trotter product?

    It’s a personal one as five years ago I got married to my husband, Chris. The company gifted us a pair of 18” trolley cases – his was a Centenary Navy / Navy and mine was Safari Ivory and they were both initialled CS – our shared initials. We always travel with them and we are already building up loads of memories attached to the cases.

    What is at the core of the Globe-Trotter brand?

    The trunk I have at home, a Safari Extra Deep Suitcase with wheels in Ivory, which fits perfectly in my bedroom so it’s a really nice home-piece. It currently holds lots of books and magazines and keepsakes I have collected from previous seasons or travel.

    Vintage Case by Globe-Trotter

    Did you know Globe-Trotter will be at ‘The Art of Travel’ summer pop up at St Pancras by Searcys?

    St Pancras by Searcys’ summer pop-up this year takes inspiration from The Art of Travel, transforming Europe’s longest Champagne Bar into London’s most stylish pre-holiday destination. The summery lounge bar will be open from 7am to 11pm, from 15 July to 9 September. Guests are invited to sit back and soak up the charm of St Pancras station, as they enjoy a glass of Champagne, a brand new The Art of Travel Afternoon Tea, and menus that pay homage to no less than twelve much-loved European cities and holiday spots. The Art of Travel by Searcys in partnership with Veuve Clicquot, Globe-Trotter and Sipsmith Gin, will transform the world-renowned Champagne Bar and take guests on a European travel journey, without leaving the station.

    Find out more