When you think of Cambridge, you think of cycling, that’s why our logo features a hand drawn bicycle. We couldn’t dream up a more fitting collaboration than with Brompton Bicycle, the manufacturer of the iconic folding bike. To celebrate this exciting launch, we interviewed Ross Hawkins, Global Brand Manager at Brompton Bicycle and our own Scott Simpson, Head of Product at The Cambridge Satchel Company. We wanted to find out what makes the two great British brands such a perfect fit for each other and understand the process behind the production of the collection.
We’re passionate about British manufacturing here at CSC. How important is it for us to work with brands who share this vision?
Scott: We are really proud of the fact that all of our bags are hand made at our factory in the heart of England. British Craftsmanship is something that our Founder and CEO, Julie Deane, champions and we are always keen to work with brands with similar values to ours. This is why Brompton who manufacture their amazing bikes in the UK was the perfect match!
How did the idea for the CSCxBrompton collaboration come about?
Scott: Julie met Brompton’s CEO, Will Butler-Adams on an export trip to China with British PM David Cameron. Both Julie and Will share so many of the same passions for design and manufacturing and thought that a collaboration between our two brands would be perfect. Julie has always been a big fan of the Brompton bike and Will thought our bag was perfect for the Brompton!
Tell us a bit about how Brompton manufacture their products?
Ross: Every Brompton is handmade in our factory in Greenford, North West London. We start by brazing (similar process to welding) a steel tube to make the frames, and machining the all important hinges, these parts are then powder coated and assembled with all the components, there are approx. 1200 parts on a bike, on our production line.
Both CSC and Brompton first began trying to find a solution to a problem, tell us a bit about the history of the brand…
Ross: The Brompton bike was invented by Andrew Ritchie in 1975. Andrew lived in a flat in Kensington and simply wanted a more efficient way of getting around the city, and a bike that could be taken on other forms of transport and then easily stored at home or work really seemed to make sense. He couldn't find anything that fitted his needs and so designed and made one. After a lot of hard work and numerous set backs, full time production started in 1988 out of a small railway arch and from there grew to be the company it is today; privately owned, entrepreneurial and with a mission to change how people move around cities. Brompton bikes are ridden in cities around the world; from London to Barcelona to Seoul, Chengdu and beyond.
In fact, both brands share quite a number of similarities – tell us about a few of them!
Ross: Both products started out as ideas on a kitchen table, and the companies grew from a determination to make something that was practical and fun. And along with both companies proving that manufacturing in Great Britain is alive and viable, we're having some fun along the way too!
Tell us a bit about the products you’ve designed as part of the collaboration? Why did you choose those colours?
Scott: We have created a special edition CSCxBrompton bike using our signature Oxblood colour with an Ivory accent. The bike includes a beautiful tan leather saddle and handle bar grips and is proudly co-branded. Our special edition bike has a very classic and traditional look but with a sense of fun. We have created a special edition 15 inch Batchel (the Batchel was originally designed as a hybrid of the briefcase and satchel, combining an adjustable leather shoulder strap with a functional top handle) with a customised back panel with frame to fit Brompton’s bespoke front carrier frame. We are offering this style in three colours that compliment some of Brompton’s key colours: Oxblood, Lagoon Blue and Turkish Green.
What’s been the process for both brands working together?
Ross: We started out thinking about what size Cambridge Satchel bag would be right for someone just nipping about the city by bike, then from there worked out how we could make a bike that also told a story about the collaboration. The Oxblood colour of the main frame and bag gives a classic British feel, nicely offset by the Ivory extremities and brown leather saddle.
We’ve admired Brompton from afar for a while… what is it about CSC that attracted you to work with us?
Ross: I'd first become aware of CSC from the old Google ads that featured Julie, and then always thought highly of them as they were all about manufacturing in the UK, but hadn't really looked too closely at the product range. Our first meeting was at their Covent Garden store and I was instantly excited about the colour possibilities and the real enthusiasm to work out a design that really worked with the bike.
How have the Brompton bike and the classic satchel evolved over the years?
Ross: Our team of designers are always looking at ways to improve the ride quality, reduce weight and manufacture efficiently. In the last few years we've really focused on the touch points, improving the brakes, gear triggers, grips and saddle which has really improved the ride experience. We also moved to a new factory last year, and that has given us an opportunity to make some behind the scenes improvements to be more efficient and give a better service to our customers, as well as giving us the space to design the future improvements to the bike. Scott: The Cambridge Satchel is an iconic classic. You can't beat a classic! Stylish, timeless and versatile - they are the perfect hybrid of smart and casual, making them the perfect fit for every occasion, from school and university to weekends and adventures. The possibilities are endless. Made here in the UK, all of our bags is made from 100% leather and feature our iconic bicycle logo blind embossed on the reverse for a signature finish. The satchel has evolved to include magnetic buckle closures for ease. We also offer personalisation on all of our bags. All of our products are created with the design and functionality at heart.
What about the collaboration are you most excited about?
Ross: It will be great to see the bike being cycled about town, but more than anything else I hope it may inspire some entrepreneurs and designers wondering about manufacturing in the UK to take the plunge and go for it! Scott: There is perfect synergy between both Brompton and CSC. We are both passionate about design and functionality as well as British manufacturing. We have created a beautiful special edition bike using our signature colours but we are so excited that our Batchel can now be purchased to compliment any Brompton bike. The bags are made from 100% leather at our factory in Leicester and include a co-branded logo. Our top handle makes the bag easy to manoeuvre and the three colours we are offering are a statement for any Brompton bike!