Moving to India – designing bags in India

When we make bags… actually, let’s roll back a little…

Last year I decided to set up this little bag company called Cora & Spink – I set about making some bags… simple, strong and rugged men’s bags. Made like bags used to be made, without pomp and ceremony, without airs or graces good honest practical bags that you would feel proud to own and use daily. You know, like a bag should be. I stand by the fact, that, like a coat, a bag should become a staple favourite that you forget you have. This I must admit isn’t the greatest marketing catch phrase, but that’s what I want… I want to make the bag that you know will be there for you, like an obedient cat.
I digress… The bags that we have been making have been made in a town in Northern Pakistan, in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. We did not choose to make our bags there… much rather they chose to be made there. Now, my memory for most things is pretty sketchy, fun facts from ‘QI’ – no problem, but for the life of me I can’t trace back exactly how I ended up in Sialkot. For a year we worked tirelessly to source and manufacture completely custom canvas and leather, we found small mills that were still operating looms and machinery from England and Germany dating back to the turn of the last century… we had a great team.
They were as important as important can be in our growth as we were for them. From the very first sample, to the last shipment we have worked as family, one goal to grow and develop – to succeed with a plan. But the thing with growth and development is that it can be very personal, you may share goals and dreams, but you won’t always share a pathway. So it’s with great pride I can say, that our small team in Pakistan is now moving onto bigger and brighter opportunities, and we have moved too. We have jumped the border, we have moved to West Bengal, we have moved to Kolkata, India.

Welcome to Kolkata, India – A crazy town…

Exit left, enter right… I’m recording this here as much for my own benefit as yours, I want this madcap story to be kept for posterity.
I get emails, I get hundreds of emails, from viagra to completely pointless reminders from something called HMRC; emails slip through my spam filter everyday, with the power of a left swipe I can be rid of most – but sometimes, sometimes someone is persistent, and they cause me to pay attention. This is how I found Kolkata.
Kolkata for the uninitiated is the leather capital of India, leather is one of it’s largest if not largest commodity export. Finding a factory is like searching for a needle in a haystack… or a tree in woods, there are lots, and it’s tough. But… my needle was on the end of the phone after I replied to one of those emails back in September 2015, it was from a representative in London of a Kolkata outfit… and, you might say, that is history… you could, but then you would miss out on the hours spent on the phone, skype and email… the introductions to The CEO and Secretary of the West Bengal Government Khadi Board.
You would miss the ‘oh, no problem’ to ‘my god Tim!’… the 4am nights and the 5am mornings… you would miss how and what we are able to now do… It was one email, and one phone call that ended up with me in Kolkata – and with that one phone call started the next phase in Cora & Spink. Not just new designs and capabilities in production, but a new family – new goals to aspire to, new dreams to be dreamt, and new horizons to be conquered. Kolkata is our new home for Cora & Spink.

What does this mean to the bags. What’s changing, what’s new?

Lots! Can I leave it there? No?..
We have developed a new cotton canvas, the likes of which we have never seen used in the construction of bags – it’s so amazingly crazy you will love it. It feels and behaves unlike any canvas you have ever felt, it truly is unique, I liken it to something you would find used in the construction of tractors in 1940. It is so unrefined, so raw, so heavy – we have then taken that wholly unsuitable fabric, processed it, finished it and over dyed it. Then of course we have leather, we have been in the world of leather (not the sofa company – 97% off sale) we have selected a range of full natural grain leathers and suedes for the bags, some thick and some thin, we have solid straps of course, beautiful soft trim, we’re also introducing some absolutely top end leathers for a new range of wallets, belts and tablet cases/pockets.
Now, I know this has been a long post – it has been a while… please take a seat. This is hard to tell you. Since the start of this project (now called job) I have said I hate linings. And this is true, I do… linings used in all but the most luxurious and hence expensive bags tend to be made simply to hide poor construction. They are often the cheapest off cuts, cobbled together as an afterthought. They are rarely designed, they certainly bring nothing to the table stylewise. So – this is why, I have introduced linings to some of our new range. Why? Because I fell in love with a fabric I found on a market… contrary I know.
The new set up also gives us access to what might be considered normal things – we have been able to sit down and design hardware from scratch, we have YKK India just down the road. But most importantly, the head honcho pattern cutter is a specialist in fetish and bondage gear, so… well, I don’t think I need to say anymore.
India has welcomed us, in a few days I shall be introducing the new lines to you. For now, here are the chaps that are making things happen across the waves. Introducing the Indians:

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