Mayfair-based LONB (Love Or Nothing Baby) is a new luxury leather goods company with a difference. Launched this year by Reinhard Mieck and Melissa Morris, who met while working for a big, well-known luxury goods company, LONB is pioneering a genuinely radical new idea.
LONB products are based around a signature piece called ‘The Runaway’, a leather bag that houses pockets and compartments for all the essentials that you never want to leave home without. There is a Runaway for men and one for women, which are essentially the same, but with a few different features. Both models fold up to form a smaller bag, worn with a shoulder strap for women and as a hand-held portfolio for men.
However, though that’s certainly ingenious, it’s not the most inventive part. The real innovation is that there is a range of bigger bags, including backpacks, holdalls and totes, which are all designed for The Runaway to clip into. And, just like The Runaway, these bags are made in Italy from the finest materials, and are also intelligently designed, with, for example, wide-opening tops and handy external pockets for easy-access items.
Here, Reinhard Mieck explains how LONB came into being and what it is trying to achieve.
How did you come up with the idea of LONB?
Quite simply, we know travel. I was travelling around 200 days a year in my old job. We all know travel creates plenty of, ‘Oh, where’s my wallet/passport/keys?’ moments. We wanted to make travel simpler, but also create products that represent luxury at its very best. Products that transcend seasons and feel personal. Products that function seamlessly with everything we want to carry. Products made with refined craftsmanship. Products that are made to be loved for life.
As a company, we also believe that the contemporary meaning of travel encompasses more than ever before. It’s no longer just being away from home. It now extends to constant activity and change from morning to night: we wake up, go to work, have meetings, have lunch, go the gym and see friends. With the idea of travel becoming more complex, a bag that is worthy of the ‘luxury’ label must confront this new world and truly support the customer.
At the heart of what you do is an ingenious modular system. Can you explain how that works?
It’s a repurposing method that stems from our signature item, The Runaway. This is the heart of the system and carries all your essentials. It has separate compartments for your phone, wallet, passport, most important cards, keys, and more, and it clips into any of our bags in just a few seconds. The idea is that your essentials remain organised as you move between your day and overnight bag. For example, if you have a lunch meeting and just need your essentials for a few hours, The Runaway can be used as a shoulder bag or portfolio. In terms of the wider bags, effective design means everything remains easily accessible even as the form of the bag changes. It’s a modular concept, and our range of small leather goods and packing pouches play a role in this. You decide the nature of the bag you need for your journey, and create your own, personal assortment.
Tell us about the other products that follow on from The Runaway.
There are many of them. For example, we have a family of bags we call Le Voyage, which comes in three sizes, Le Petit Voyage, Le Voyage and Le Grand Voyage. All our bags open up very wide, so you can pack your laptop, documents, whatever you need, with ease. Another one of our bags, the Vagabond, weighs 1.3kg, so it’s very light for its size – I use it every day. The Vagabond’s design has been inspired by my collection of classic motorcycle jackets. It’s very elegant and very beautiful. All the pockets are integrated into the seams, and the handles attach to the top, not the front, which was just a different approach. And no matter which bag you use, The Runaway can clip in and remain the true functional constant.
Do you make other pieces too?
We also do small leather goods. We paid the same attention to developing those as we did to developing the bags. For most companies small leather goods are an afterthought but for us we apply the same philosophy. We didn’t want our wallet to ever get bulky, so the leather is very skived down, perfect for credit cards, notes and coins. We also do beautiful penholders in the simplest possible way, but in the way it should be done. There are also waterproof pouches that have a separate little zipped compartment with a nylon lining for things such as makeup brushes or toothbrushes. I actually use one for computer cables and one for toiletries.
LONB has placed an emphasis on the functionality of pieces. How has this affected the products?
Our bags are a perfect blend of functionality, a soulful aesthetic, and mastered craftsmanship. Our standard practice is to say each one can only be made with the best materials: 100% natural leather sourced from artisanal tanneries in Italy and France, solid brass hardware, and Raccagni zips, as they are the finest in the world; they flow fantastically and never break. Elements like this are very expensive because they’re the best of the best. That’s why we chose Alcantara rather than cotton for the lining of our products.
It’s essentially a microfibre, but a very special production technique means its colour is never lost. It was invented for racing cars in the 1960s, by the Italian company Alcantara. When drivers used to sit on leather seats in racing cars their bodies would move too much. Materials with more grip, such as suede, would lose colour, so they invented Alcantara. It’s incredibly soft but seriously tough; you can never destroy it and it will never bleed colour. The Alcantara lining in all our bags is made in our house colour Amarone, which we have taken from the colour of our favourite wine. Externally, for our system, you can pick any combination of colours you want – a Runaway in one shade and a group of bags in hues that either match or contrast with it. And the consistent use of Amarone for the linings always perfectly complements your choice on the inside.
Do you only use calfskin leather?
Our pieces also come in suede, ostrich and crocodile, and we also have a signature canvas exterior called From Dusk till Dawn. The pattern has a faded appearance in homage to the traveller who is on the go from morning to night. It’s very strong, totally waterproof and never rubs. We chose linen for the base in order to create that organic feeling. The diamond-shaped pattern has been hand-stippled by a Parisian artist. Each diamond has around 6,000 little dots, and given that the pattern has been hand-crafted, each diamond is slightly different from the others. It’s very artisanal, and it summarises our brand philosophy really well: integrated style, executed in a very sophisticated way – not in-your-face.
So as well as offering the practicality of The Runaway system, the bags are also simply designed to have appeal as beautiful accessories.
All the magic, in terms of functionality, happens on the inside. On the outside, our bags evoke 1960s-inspired, unbuttoned soul – they are timeless luxury leather goods for the connoisseur with inherent style and relaxed savoir faire. All our leathers are totally natural – we don’t treat or cover our leather in any way, so it will develop character as it gets softer and slouchier. Leather might get a mark here and there that you can rub out if you wish, but I always leave the marks on my bags because it reminds me, ‘Oh, this happened there’. The bag becomes yours, and wear makes it better by the day.
It sounds like you have an almost sensual relationship with the product?
We haven’t forgotten that so much of a luxury bag’s appeal is found in the physical experience. Our design process kept in mind the tactile experience we had to cultivate within our bags. Our world-class materials elevate this aspect to the place where luxury should really be. Even small things like the sound of the flip locks for The Runaway give you this reminder of solidity and craftsmanship, bringing the bag and the buyer closer together. You could say it’s bringing the more general themes of vintage class and contemporary variety together.
LONB is at 59 South Audley Street, London W1K 2QN; lonb.com