Kolin Ekeocha set up Kolin and William in 2014 who have just launched their collection of leather bags on Made to Last.
The bags are a very unique range, unlike anything else we have seen on our travels so we thought it would be nice to get the scoop on Kolin and his range in this short interview.
What do you make and why?
After conducting a market research study on leather accessories I found out that there was a niche in the market for unisex, affordable handmade goods. Instantly I decided to create a business that serves both men and women. Customers can now share items without worrying about my design not fitting in the gender narrative.
Furthermore, All the items are made in East London because I am a strong believer in supporting local businesses.
Experimenting with leather skins, soft trimmings and easy to wear bags and combining both styles helped me to develop an innovative new accessory that is practical for both sexes as a range of unisex bags.
The bags are designed to last with a timeless classic touch and are not seasonal.
We know your products are great, you know your products are great but how can they know?
My products are very relatable, stylish and modern. There’s a classic timeless aesthetic throughout the range that references the past with a contemporary British twist.
Aside from the aesthetic beauty, our products are unique mainly because we use the best vegetable tanned cowhides from Portugal. These types of skins last longer and age well with the wearer. We use soft and sturdy cotton drill lining from England. All our trimmings, hardware and fastenings are also locally sourced. .
Whereabouts does your manufacturing take place?
Kolin & William’s design focuses on beautiful execution, comprising quality of materials, heritage design and British workmanship.
I use a charming and professional local factory in Stratford East London where all my manufacturing and production takes place.
Furthermore, I am an avid supporter of British Industry, only choosing suppliers and factories within the UK.
What is the toughest part of the product development process for you?
The toughest part of the product development process is definitely sourcing.
Leather cowhides and materials are not always available the moment you need them.
Manufacturing can also be challenging sometimes, when working with such high quality and expensive materials mistakes can be very costly. Our bags are not cheap so they need to be perfect.
What is the most enjoyable part of the process of product development for you?
I love to design. The creating process, from 2D to sampling it’s very satisfying but at the same time nerve-racking, because you never really know until the samples are finished.
Also – doing market research, speaking to clients, getting feedback, designing and photo shoots are all really fun and enjoyable.
Do you have any new products/ranges planned for the next year or so?
Yes, I am currently designing our A/W 17 collection.
What products or people have helped to inspire you to create the products that you do?
My inspiration comes from my city, London especially East-London. Sometimes I get inspired by the connections between cultural diversity, innovation and prosperous urban communities.
Fashion designers and Musicians that I look up to have a real impact on my creativity. I love it when individuals express themselves through style, music and fashion.
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know
I won 1st place in Fashion 156’s London Calling Menswear competition, winning the opportunity to have my capsule collection sold in Start Boutique (May 2008). Whilst still a student at London College of Fashion.
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in work and London city life, I try to make time to volunteer for homeless youth through the Crisis charity.
Which product in your range do you personally use the most and why?
Backpacks and the Tote bags because for me, they’re very easy to wear. The Red Church Backpack allows your hands to be free, and rest the weight of the bag on your shoulders.
The Leather Homerton Tote Bag is very simple for everyday usage. Easy to carry around when running errands.
Why did you name your products as you have?
Having lived in East London for all of my early life, I wanted the bags to embody the area of the city in which I flourished as a creative. Each bag is named after a different area in East London and embodies what I see as the personality traits of the people who reside there.
MTL – Thanks for your time Kolin. To view and shop Kolin & William’s full range of leather bags please click here.