Most of you will know that I love handbags. A beautiful handbag can completely transform an outfit and is definitely the item in my wardrobe where I like to invest. When Cru London got in touch with me, I was very excited to discover a brand that was more accessible than the luxury brands, but up there with the best of them in terms of style and quality. Cru very kindly asked me to choose a bag from their collection and it was not an easy choice. They are all absolutely beautiful, but I chose the Charlotte Mini Bucket Bag for it’s simplicity and elegance. More often than not, I opt for a little cross body bag, as it forces me to only carry the essentials, rather than a bigger bag which ends up holding everything but the kitchen sink and always results in sore shoulders by the end of the day.
I am always keen to know the story behind emerging brands, so I asked Petru, the founder of Cru London, a few questions:
What’s the story behind CRU London and when was it founded?
Cru was founded by myself and my partner, Tiago Felix. We both live in London and are very passionate about travelling and seeing the world and a couple of years ago we travelled to Portugal, Tiago’s home country, where we came across an artisan family out in the leather district of Santarem, just north of Lisbon. Our curiosity was triggered by the small family of artisans, still working according to the traditional leather-working processes, the husband hand cutting the leather hides for each bag and the wife constructing the bags one by one. This process was clearly very different to what was taking place behind the scenes with handbags sold in the UK market – most bags seen on the high street are clearly produced on a large scale, conveyor belt type process, not always with the best working conditions in place. We fell in love with the distinctive bags created by these artisans and decided to have one bespoke handbag made for myself. Long story short, this bag was so distinctive to anything we had ever seen in London – a classical design, authentic, natural-looking leather tanned at a local tannery a few kilometers from the workshop, unique irregularities within the bag simply adding to the personality of the bag – that we started working on setting up our own collection, working with talented London design and branding teams to realise our vision for the collection. Cru’s first collection of four designs was launched in February 2015, and currently we have fourteen designs, soon to be extended even further with the launch of exciting new backpacks and a lovely suede crossover. So we’ve come a long way!
Where does the name come from?
Cru means ‘raw’ in Portuguese, so Cru London’s name was inspired by the combined strengths of our London base and a vision realised by the partnership with the Portuguese artisans. The meaning really resonated with the ethos behind the brand, highlighting the collection’s use of natural, authentic leather, tanned and finished using earthy colours only – caramel and black – and the artisan traits of no stitch ever being identical. Putting it bluntly, the collection is raw and unrefined in relation to what’s commonly seen on London’s high streets.
What makes Cru different from other handbag brands?
Cru’s USP is certainly the combination of having a strong London-based brand, the combination of classical design with a modern twist with its bright red signature red zips, and last but certainly not least, the distinctive craftsmanship techniques used by its Portuguese artisans. Each bag takes 3-4 hours to make, so it’s a very unique and personalized approach. Few brands seen on England’s high streets can boast with all of these traits combined, and bearing all of this in mind, the bags offer really good value for money. It’s a bag that has been made to last a lifetime, therefore also another reason behind the choice of classical, cross-seasonal designs and colours.
Which style icon would you love to see wearing Cru?
If we can step back in time for this one, we would definitely have to say Jane Birkin. We just love the way she carried herself in her youth, oozing an effortless elegance. She had a cool, classical and understated style which really compliments Cru’s timeless and understated designs and qualities. We love how she never looked like she tried too hard. A true classical style guru in our opinion.
What has been the high point in your journey with Cru?
The high point with our journey has certainly been gaining our very first stockist last year in Notting Hill with Wolf & Badger. Since then we have also extended our reach to include a store in Islington, Whitstable, St. Albans and soon we’ll also be in Chiswick so it’s a very exciting time for us. We are also stocked online at a number of fascinating platforms including Tarlee.com which really places the emphasis on promoting niche labels with an interesting story behind them, also supporting ethical and sustainable design processes.
And here’s why I have fallen in love with this little bag…
It stands upright by itself, making it really easy to find things you need in a hurry. It’s really easy to close with the leather drawstring and I love the way they have used a combination of leather and suede in the design. But the best feature has to be their trademark red zip, which adds a touch of class. It’s a really stylish and timeless bag and compared to my other black handbags, holds just the right amount. (Probably a little more than my Chloe Marcie and Gucci Disco, for comparison’s sake!)
And here’s the best bit. Cru London have very kindly agreed to offer the readers of my blog 20% off this little bucket bag until the end of October, with the code ‘CLTS20BUCKETBAG’. This design will soon be launched in caramel leather too, so if you are keen on the caramel then get in touch with CRU and mention the blog, they will apply the 20% off to the caramel bucket bag when it’s available.