Doe Leather

About us

Founded in 2013 by Deborah Thomas, Doe focuses on one simple thing: making covetable leather bags and accessories using the best material and most skilled craftspeople . With a design studio in Suffolk and working with a traditional family run factory in the West Midlands, we are committed to retaining our British heritage and can guarantee that 'Made in England' means just that.

Using the highest quality bridle hide leather, we make a range of bags and accessories which improve with age. Customisable zip pulls or linings adorn each piece and add a little bit of history, with the embossed leather we use coming from original swatch books - many over 75 years old.

Our Ethos

In a world of fast-fashion and flash logos, Doe believe that real luxury comes from taking the time to do things slowly. Considered purchasing, as opposed to impulse buying, gives you the chance to know and trust a brand before investing. Slow fashion is more than just a fad - it's a thoughtful, rewarding process which connects you to the pieces you wear in a way that can only be achieved when you truly know its provenance.

Sustainability

Doe are committed to working and making as sustainably as we can. This means using 99% recycled, recyclable packaging in as minimal a way as possible to escape unnecessary waste. Upcycling of the original leather swatches, and avoiding the use of toxic chemicals in our tanning process also play their part in protecting the environment.

About Bridle Hide Leather

Durable and hard wearing; even with daily vigorous use, bridle hide leather will last for ten years or more. Coming from the 'butt' - the thickest and strongest part of a cowhide - makes this the 'top-tier' of leather grades. At Doe, we believe this gifts you with a beautiful, long-lasting piece and as such, are proud to be one of the few makers exclusively using it.

The leather is vegetable-tanned - a slow, natural process which eliminates the common toxic chemicals used in the majority of tanneries worldwide. Both sides of the leather (the 'flesh' and 'grain') are finished with waxes and oils, in keeping with its traditional equestrian use which ensure the inside of a bridle is smooth against a horse's face. The natural permeation of these waxes into the leather leads to a 'bloom' of wax residue (see 'Aftercare' for how to buff this away). With no artificial coating, the leather is allowed to age gracefully over time, developing a unique lustre or 'patina' and creating its own story in the process.

At Doe, we care about beautiful, minimal design; sustainability and the importance of heritage.

Head to our Shop page to browse our bridle leather bags and accessories.

Questions? Contact us on with any comments, press enquiries or just to say hello.

History

Doe draws on its historical family ties to ensure everything we make has its own story. W. Pearce and Co, founded in 1908 by Deborah's great-great grandfather, was a successful tannery in Northampton which began life producing leather linings for shoes and hats. Moving to a purpose built Grade Two listed art-deco factory on the outskirts of town when they began supplying sheepskin to the troops of World War I, they began focusing on embossing leather. Before long, W. Pearce and Co had the largest collection of embossing plates in the world and became famous for its reptile and ostrich effects.

The factory continued as a family business for almost 100 years before sadly closing its doors in the early 2000s. With the realisation that the sales books full of embossed leather swatches were likely to end up in landfill, Deborah and her father rescued these 'books of art' before they could be discarded forever. These original, vintage swatches are bursting with colour, pattern and effects and are what are now used to add a little of the old tannery history to each of our pieces, making everything by Doe a genuine limited edition.

Why Doe?

Traditionally, the leather industry has been male-dominated and many leather guilds' coat of arms feature a stag. As a female founder in the industry, Deborah thought it was about time to shake things up, replacing the stag with its female counterpart, the doe.

Process and Aftercare

The Design Process

Each Doe leather bag and accessory starts with an idea based on shape and function. For example, what bag should you take on a city break? Our cross-body pouch was designed in response to the practical need for something smaller when travelling.

The design comes together over time in our Suffolk studio; first as a paper pattern, then as a further two prototypes created with leather offcuts - the second version more refined and ready to be be taken to the heritage factory we work with.

The Heritage Factory

We are proud to work closely with the skilled craftspeople at one of the last Black Country leather goods producers who bring our designs to life. Over 140 years old, this heritage factory employs leather craftspeople with true expertise and knowledge to hand-make our Doe bags and accessories. Working in small batches of twelve, the making process takes three to four months: quality takes time.

Embossed Leather Archives

Whilst our Doe bags and accessories are being cut and stitched in the Midlands, in Northampton we sort through boxes of archive swatches from the original tannery to be used as colourful accessory details. Taking the time to find the right colour, shape and size means each Doe piece is a collectable, limited edition. Keeping it in the family, Michael Pearson, Deborah's father and the previous MD of W. Pearce and Co, then uses the chosen swatches to cut each zip-pull himself.

The Final Touches

All Doe leather goods are protected in a calico dust bag and come with a unique, handmade leather balsam to keep your bridle leather purchase in top condition. The finishing flourish is a handmade leather luggage tag and a handwritten letter, making your purchase exclusive, considered and tailored to you each time.

Aftercare

Our leather goods are made to last: regularly rubbing the balsam into your purchase and storing it in the calico bag will see it through years of love. You can also maximise the leather's life by avoiding direct sunlight and leaving near radiators.

A white 'bloom' of the natural wax can easily be buffed away with a soft cloth. For other wear marks, simply wipe clean when necessary, taking care to avoid the use of detergents. Should there be need to, we are happy to offer a free repair service within the first five years following your purchase.