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Accessories veterans back UK manufacturing with handbag brand

An accessories brand, co-founded by a duo who earned their stripes at House of Fraser and Celine, is launching a Made in England range as it seeks international growth.

Eddie Knevett, former buying manager and head of buying for accessories at HoF, and Julie Dobson, previously country manager for luxury brand Celine, launched Village England for spring 14. For autumn 14, the pair have developed a 15-piece range manufactured in a factory in Hackney.

The line, made using English bridle leather, will account for nearly a third of Village England’s production, but Dobson plans to grow this to half its output over the next couple of seasons.

“It’s the top end of our price point, but it’s incredible how much people are willing to pay for quality product made in the UK,” she told Drapers. “More manufacturing should be brought back to Britain. So many brands trade off that English style, so it is only right that we take advantage of what’s on our doorstep.”

Wholesale prices for the Made in England collection range between £116 and £213, while prices for the main line start at £41 and go up to £141, both with a mark-up of 2.8.

The collection proved a hit with European buyers at tradeshow Who’s Next in Paris, with new accounts including 16-store chain Gilance in Belgium, Aramis in Barcelona and Legend in Monaco.

Village England is also currently stocked in five HoF stores, and online, with plans to roll out to further doors across the country.

Dobson said the business was looking for further stockists for autumn 14, both in the UK and overseas.

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