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Handbags & Gladrags


Harking back to 1967, Handbags and Gladrags was the title of a song written by Mike d'Arbo of Manfred Mann. Since then it has been covered by numerous artists from Rod Stewart's iconic delivery, through Engelbert Humperdinck, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to the major hit for the Stereophonics in 2001. It is one of those songs which can be interpreted in many ways and spans several genres as few songs do. I guess what I'm saying is, quality spans the decades, and never really goes out of fashion. Good was good then and it still is now. The lyrics seem to be an admonition that the way to happiness is not through slavish following of fashion, but through the appreciation of the deeper things in life.


So while sorting through some of our stock the other day, I had the chance to handle and study some of our own range of Handbags and Gladrags: particularly our Barbour and Baron bags; top quality in both fabric and leather. These are the sort of items you purchase just once in a lifetime, and true quality is evident in every square inch, plus that indefinable style that marks out a seasoned British traveller. You could imagine David Livingstone carrying a bag like this as he trekked the dark continent of Africa in the mid 19th century, stuffed with primitive medicines, a notebook and a bible.


These are the sort of travel bags favoured by the ever popular Michael Palin in his several globe trotting TV series which we all remember so fondly. The Canvas Tarras Bag was constantly slung over his shoulder as he trekked from 'Around the World in 80 Days' in 1988, was still his faithful companion years later as he visited 'New Europe' in 2007. Recently Rageh Omaar took the TV cameras touring the middle east in his fascinating documentary and was frequently seen toting a similar travel bag. So many others from Kate Humble to Ray Mears can be seen with these handy shoulder bags on their TV sorties down the Spice Trail or deep in the wilderness. Ideal for all that travel paraphernalia such as cameras, iPads, maps and guidebooks, these bags signify quality to the seasoned traveller and practicality with tough durability.



Of course, the top of the range bags are the leather, and these expensive items just ooze quality and style, but the great thing about them is that, using them as they are designed to be used, just makes them better and better. The leather softens and conforms to how you use the bag, and the odd scuff and stain simply add character and a narrative to your journeys together. A bag like this would be an ideal present for a 18th or 21st birthday, and which would accompany the fortunate bearer, boy or girl, man or woman, throughout a lifetime's adventures.

Memories are priceless and travel companions like this will never be forgotten.