60 years of sheepskin and leather craftsmanship

2 March 2009

Owen Barry, based in Street, a traditional centre of UK sheepskin and leather processing, work with leading designers and retailers to create beautiful garments, accessories and lifestyle products.

Manufacturing is based over two premises in Street - the original workshop and a purpose built unit where the team of 30 skilled employees are involved in the pattern development, cutting and grading processes. The range includes sheepskin gloves, garments, belts, bags, earmuffs and beanbags.

Skins and leathers used to create the garments and accessories are sourced at the best tanneries in Europe including Genis Antel and Inpelsa in Spain, Inducol in Portugal and locally, L H Nichols. Garments are hand cut and it can take anything from 6-16 skins to make a garment.

Owen Barry produce items for big brands such as Mulberry and Burberry and can incorporate client's signature fabrics and logos into the design.

Sheepskin products obviously lend themselves well to cold climates as markets are warmth and fashion driven. Although Japan and North America are the biggest markets, and a total of 70% of production is for export, the company are seeing a resurgence of demand for this type of product in the UK. Cindi Barnstable, managing director, believes that this is driven by convenience, quality and environmental concerns.

Two key trends in the UK market are traceability and the notion of things being organic. Owen Barry have been working with organic hides and skins for many years, and work closely with Daylesford Organics, Sharpham Park Organics and Brown Cow Organics.

In terms of traceability the company are planning to reintroduce a product reference tag which shows the names of the members of staff who cut, prepared, made and finished each item together with a date of manufacture and authentication stamp.

Owen Barry are also proud of the ‘made in UK' level of service and quality they offer, and the confidence in the workmanship enables them to give a lifetime guarantee on their products. Cindi Barnstable told Leather International that UK shops are finding that customers are acting independently of the recession much talked about in the media and are finding that they need more product to fill their shelves as sales are healthier than expected.

The company develop a colour swatch twice a year. This enables retailers to know that the full colour range is in stock so can order a bag in a particular colour for a customer.

The store is piled high with skins and leathers in a myriad of colours and finishes which enables Owen Barry to provide rapid turn around of goods from order.

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