On the Case: Ettinger

Leather goods expert Ettinger has been the luxury purveyor of the ever-popular attaché case for decades

Style 14 Dec 2019

Ettinger attaché cases are slim, lightweight and designed for the modern customer.
St James attaché case in Hazelnut.
Ettinger store in the 1970s

When Mad Men first hit our screens in 2007, the world of New York advertising agencies in the 1960s was presented as a very glamorous one indeed. Bouffant hairstyles, twin-sets and chain smoking meetings aside, one style staple that continues to endure is the attaché briefcase.

Originally used by diplomatic officers (or attachés, hence the name) to carry confidential documents, the traditional attaché case may have undergone some modifications to keep up with changing times and technology, but its basic box-shape and leather-clad design remains largely unchanged. And for luxury British leather goods manufacturer Ettinger, the attaché is emblematic of the company’s timeless style and roots in the golden age of travel.

Ettinger was founded in 1934 by German-born businessman Gerry Ettinger, a representative who supplied leather goods to high-end department stores. Ettinger came from a long line of military tailors, which instilled in him an understanding of quality craftsmanship. Keen to be his own boss, Ettinger set up a leather goods factory in London in 1934, staying at the head of the company before passing the reins to his son Robert in 1995 – with the business granted a Royal Warrant a year later.

Gerry Ettinger was a passionate traveller and a talented businessman who spoke five languages. He had an eye for great style and was always sharply dressed with impeccable taste. The company that bears his name continues to uphold his founding values of timeless, handcrafted quality more than eight decades on.

In the 1950s, as the company was really expanding, Gerry Ettinger designed a slim, lightweight attaché briefcase for himself. Today, the brand offers four attaché models, with the elegant St James based directly on his initial design. The original model takes pride of place in the company’s London showroom, and has developed a rich patina over the years. The modern St James attaché also showcases the company’s fine craftsmanship to full effect. Made from traditional English bridle leather with brass locks, suede lining, with various insidelid options, it combines a traditional aesthetic with modern multifunctionality.

The St James attaché and everything bearing the Ettinger logo is still made by hand in the company’s West Midlands factory by a team of craftspeople trained to the highest standards. In fact, it takes five years to train one person, meaning the factory combines more than 600 years of manufacturing experience. Traditional, handcrafted techniques such as leather cutting and hand stitching are preserved and put into daily use; taking time, skill and infinite patience.

Ettinger offers a variety of gifts for men and women inspired by a passion for travel and British craftsmanship. These range from the functional, such as wallets, notebooks and overnight bags, to the more whimsical, including double watch rolls, travel shoe horns and flasks. The St James attaché, however, remains one of the brand’s bestsellers; a symbol of professional elegance that never goes out of fashion.

From £2,790, ettinger.co.uk