Charlie Borrow's - Bag Designer, Shoreditch

Charlie Borrow's - Bag Designer, Shoreditch

Apr 14, 2021Adam Shabbo

Charlie Borrow’s traditionally made leather and canvas bags are designed to be with their owner for a lifetime. He sources from local suppliers and hand makes every piece from his workshop in Shoreditch.

Charlie trained in fashion and textiles just outside Brighton, his hometown, then moved to London to study bespoke tailoring. But it was when he started his own alteration service from his bedroom at home, whilst working in the tailoring department at Paul Smith, that the first threads of his brand were sewn. His first bag was a distressed, brown, oversized lambskin tote made as a gift.

What are your best sellers? My belts and wallets sell all day long, I guess this might be because of the price point being a little more accessible. The most popular bag is the Pilot Bag – it’s probably one of the more unique styles in the collection. It remains true to what it’s inspired by.

Celebrity fans? I couldn’t tell you but I’ve got really loyal clientele who continually challenge me with bespoke designs and small changes to existing designs. For me it’s about the product and the transaction between the client and myself. Whether they are a a celebrity or an everyday, normal person makes no difference to me, the service or the outcome.

How do you escape the stresses of city life? I visit family – sadly rare as I’m constantly working. Trading London for Brighton on a sunny day is always good – it’s a city but has a more relaxed and laid-back feel and some great pubs.

What’s your favourite Heath product? The face wash and moisturiser. I really struggle to find a face cream I’m happy with – I hate creams that leave a layer on your face like sun cream. But Heath Moisturiser rubs in to your skin completely and doesn’t leave an uncomfortable greasy feel.

Your best kept grooming tip? I’m a bit of a trim-your-beard as-and-when kind of guy. But I use face scrub every day or two to keep my face feeling fresh and always moisturise afterwards. I get my haircut every 4-6 weeks by my good friend Satoru – he’s based on the same row of workshops as me and offers the best service and haircut I’ve ever had. I’ve always been told my hair is a nightmare to cut, but I think Saturo likes the challenge. A true Japanese craftsman with great attention to detail.

Do you wear fragrance? I go through phases. Love the smell of D R Harris & Co Windsor aftershave – really fresh with just the right amount of musk to. It doesn’t last all day but I don’t think it’s designed to – it’s more your classic post shave vibe.

Your favourite store? Nest Robe Confect in Tokyo – their own label is amazing. They use beautiful organic cottons, and silk-cotton and bamboo-cotton mix fabrics. All garments are dyed for a really natural look and feel, the construction is top quality and the shapes are timeless and easy to wear. On my last trip I bought a dark navy, silk-cotton collar, stand shirt.

Most recent art show or gallery visit? I visited the Issey Miyake show when in Tokyo last year – amazing! It had some great in depth product development, imagery and video and an amazing machine on show which automatically did the pleating on fabric which was fascinating.

Your desert island tune? Brian Eno is pretty good for atmosphere – it blends into the background and allows me to work well. But on a desert island I’d take something more summery like the score to the film Chef or for some classics, scores from Guy Richie or Tarantino films.

Favourite London restaurant and dish? I worked with Smokestak at the tail end of last year making aprons and doing some furnishing for the interior. It’s based just around the corner from my workshop and has the best food I’ve eaten in a long time. I’m a bit of a carnivore – I’d have to be working with leather – the flavours in some of the dishes are incredible – so rich! The beef brisket bun is unreal and a must-try if you’re in the Shoreditch area.

What’s your healthy secret? I do a lot of walking rather than public transport and cycle when the weather allows it. If I have a particularly carby day I’ll try to eat much lighter the next. And I always drink loads of water.


Barber – Satoru, Shoreditch

Skin – Heath Moisturiser

Shop – Nest Robe Confect, Tokyo

Food – Smokestak, Shoreditch

Finishing touches: hole punching a belt

Follow Charlie @charlieborrowworkshop

Charlie Borrow:

Photo Credit: Jonny Storey

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