From Father to Son: A Very British Brand

By Jane Werrell

LONDON—Robert Ettinger is keeping the traditions of his family business alive.

His father, Gerry Ettinger, was one of the last men to wear a bowler hat and in 1934 founded the luxury leather goods brand G Ettinger.

Named one of the 50 most influential people in British luxury, Ettinger senior’s hat fits him perfectly. He won’t wear it in public in England, but he will on his travels.

“I sometimes wear a bowler hat when I’m in Japan or Korea, I wear it as I’m walking down the street, and people just love it,” said the now-CEO of Ettinger London.

Ettinger’s products reflect the subtleties of a culture that’s very British. A flash of color is a typical feature of the luxury leather brand. “We’re not boring, but we’re a little bit eccentric somewhere,” he said. “The British, they’ve never blown their own trumpet. Probably not enough nowadays. But that’s British and that’s the way we are.”

One wallet is made up of 80 to 90 pieces. The cutting is done by metal cutters, and the sewing by machine, but everything else in between is made by hand. The younger generation, he says, wants products that aren’t made by huge international brands, but that are made beautifully and take time to make.

A notebook, illustrated by Rory Dobner to commemorate the company’s 85th year, features an owl with a bowler hat—always with an umbrella. Even if you don’t wear a bowler hat, it’s wise to carry around an umbrella—at least here, in England.