Otis Batterbee - high style in Hawarden
PUBLISHED: 11:59 24 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:11 20 February 2013
Carefully fashioned luxury goods from an unassuming corner of North Wales have caught the attention of a very discerning clientele Words by Janet Reeder Photographt by John Cocks
First there was Barbour and Burberry, now theres Otis Batterbee, Britains latest must-have heritage brand.
With its cult following of A-list celebs and Cheshires premiership footballers its truly an international phenomenon, so it may come as something of a surprise to learn that the origins of the label are much closer to home - at a family-run factory in Deeside.
This summer Otis Batterbee made its debut at Harvey Nichols in Manchester and will be stocked in Selfridges very soon. And well be hearing a lot more about the label, as it has also won a major sponsorship deal that means it will be brought under the wing of a group of entrepreneurs, including a former Smythson director who is pals with no less than the Prime Ministers wife, Samantha Cameron.
But Sam Cam connection aside, Otis Batterbees brand of travel accessories with a gentlemanly twist has already won the approval of stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin and Robert Downey Jnr who have been snapping up the companys tailored eye masks and wash bags as gifts for friends and family.
Of course, the Hawarden factory where a dedicated team of accomplished machinists sew the pieces is indeed a world away from Hollywood but it fits in with the companys philosophy of creating beautifully detailed British-made goods.
Otis Batterbee explains why he chose the Ashfield Farm factory, run by Bob Cockburn. It was actually recommended by the designer Sara Berman as they had been making clothes for her label as well as for her mother Helene Berman for around 20 years, explained Otis.
We started three years ago and the business has steadily grown so that now we are selling everywhere from Fortnum and Mason in London to the prestigious Neiman Marcus in the USA.
I am quite excited about going into Harvey Nichols as this will be the first time weve been stocked in the UK outside London and that means our loyal clients will now be able to buy them in-store.
Otis and business partner Ian Smith are also delighted to have been able to provide a boost for a local firm.
Both are great fans of Cheshire and really love the idea of supporting companies outside London.
Before, Bob was working very much seasonally, said Ian, a former Manchester PR boss.
Now its all year because were not a seasonal product. We get deliveries from Bob every week. He used to employ seasonal staff during peak times before the fashion season, but he now employs permanent staff.
Otis added: With fashion you get left with voids in between each season and we fill that void which is brilliant for factories like Bobs.
In a way the countryside has become a design influence for the brand and Otis reveals that he was keen to produce a range that would appeal both to the country set as well as urban sophisticates.
Expansion seems inevitable; however, they are in very good hands. The label has recently been taken up by The Walpole, a non-profitmaking organisation that furthers the interests of British luxury.
Otiss company has now been designated one of their brands of tomorrow and as a result will be mentored by the crme de la crme of entrepreneurs, including John Ayton, Walpole founder, jewellery designer Annoushka Ducas, Lucia Van Der Post, luxury commentator, Sarah Elton, former MD of Smythson, Mark Esiri, Michael Ward, MD of Harrods, and James Henderson, MD of Pelham Bell Pottinger.