Artisan Henry Beguelin
I’m a firm believer in spending more money on accessories that are beautifully made, especially in this day and age where everything is created by a machine. While brands such as Tod’s, Hermes and Chanel continue celebrate the beauty of craftsmanship, I am always on the lookout for something different that you can’t find everywhere.
It’s for this reason that I was drawn to Henry Cuir, which I first discovered on a shopping trip to Barneys in Los Angeles many years ago. I was immediately inspired by this accessories brand’s simple shapes, distressed leathers, rugged stitching and earthy colours. Fast forward to today, and Henry Cuir has arrived in Hong Kong much to the delight of hoardes of fans who lined up outside the new store last week to catch a glimpse of the man behind it.
Rolls of waxed linen used to stitch the accessories together
Henry Cuir was founded by artisan Henry Beguelin in 1998 (not to be confused with another accessories brand called Henry Beguelin, although they bear the same name).
I say artisan because Henry is not a designer. He didn’t go to school to learn the craft and instead was guided by a saddler based in his hometown in Switzerland who taught him everything he knew.
Tools at the factory
Beguelin doesn’t sketch, nor does he produce thousands of pieces of each design. Instead he sits at his workbench, cutting and stitching pieces of leather together until they form something he feels proud to bear his name.
Henry at work
Made by hand from start to finish in his factory in Vigevano Italy, some of the bags take anywhere from five hours to three days to complete and are entirely unique. All of the vegetable dyed leathers he uses are sourced in Bologna, Italy, while accent details such as beads and glass are come from all over world. Every piece is stitched together using thick linen thread and is finished with a playful icon be it a cat, dog or man on a bicycle (this has become the brand’s signature). Since Beguelin only uses natural materials, his products have an earthy, boho look that women all over the world including Katie Holmes and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, have come to admire.
A selection of Henry Cuir products
Today the Henry Cuir empire also includes jewellery, leather jackets, furniture and shoes, the latter of which are designed by his wife Fumiko. Admittedly his bags don’t have the polished look of a Bottega or Chanel, but that is precisely what I find so appealing. They need to be seen in person and touched by hand to appreciate their beauty. But take it from me – once you have one, you will keep it forever.
A selection of accessories from the new store (pictured above)
Henry Cuir is at 33 St. Francis Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong, tel:+852 2528 1488. www.henrycuir.it