A Ramble Around West London with Handbag Designer Sophie Hulme

A Ramble Around West London with Handbag Designer Sophie Hulme

As designer Sophie Hulme closes her eponymous
accessories label for health reasons, she gives us an insider guide
to West
(and a discount code to use against her

British Fashion Award winner Sophie Hulme launched her eponymous
accessories label in 2008. Eleven years on, she made the difficult
decision to close her brand due to two rare medical conditions. The
designer suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects
connective tissue, and is also battling Kleine Levin Syndrome, a
neurological sleep disorder.

Ahead of the brand’s closure, Sophie has decided to dedicate her
two final collections – her last autumn/winter collection, as well
as a limited-edition collection – to a greater good. For each
handbag sold, the brand will donate 10 per cent of the price to
help others with the same conditions as Sophie.

With quite the selection of handbags to choose from – you can
expect Sophie Hulme’s trademark pared-back, fine-leather bags
finished with polished hardware to be part of the fold – deciding
on just one bag is a near impossibility; which is a great thing for
the charities involved.

After popping into the brand’s West London HQ on Chiltern Street
(to scout out some of our favourite designs – Hulme’s structured
bucket bag has our attention – and you can avail of our
SUITCASE10 code to further benefit the charities
that Sophie supports), we went for a quick run around of Sophie’s
favourite spots in W1 and farther afield.

In conversation with Sophie Hulme

How would you describe the Sophie Hulme brand?

My designs are intended for life, creating good quality,
beautiful pieces for the independent woman who isn’t lured in by
logos and branding. We create timeless, considered products that
are priced with integrity.

While the designs are practical (with a less-is-more approach),
there’s often a fun, playful element to them. I feel that fashion
can often take itself too seriously. I approach the creative
process with the stance of a product designer, putting the need for
simplicity, usability and desirability at the forefront of every

What does your brand represent?

My designs embody a quiet confidence, restraint and substance.
They are for the open-minded individual, who lives in accordance
with her (or his) own rules.

Tell us about your charitable initiatives…

We are supporting both the Kleine Levin Syndrome Support and The
Ehlers Danlos Society, which raise awareness of the conditions that
I am suffering from. We are donating 10 per cent of net sales
across both charities. Use code SUITCASE10 when you purchase a bag
from Sophie Hulme, and Sophie Hulme will donate an extra 10 per
cent to charity.

Some of your best sellers (and personal favourites) are…

The Bolt, The Swing, The Cocktail Stirrer and lately our newest
shape in the Albion family, our iconic design, the Nano Albion

Where are you stocked?

We are stocked by MatchesFashion, Fortnum & Mason in the UK and SSENSE in North America as well as Galeries Lafayette in Beijing and Shanghai to name a
few. We pursue a mostly direct-to-consumer strategy and our
customers can also find us at our flagship store in Chiltern Street
in London
and on our website.

Sophie Hulme’s Insider Guide to West London

Where are we most likely to find a Sophie Hulme customer in
West London…

At Blain Southern, a gallery on Hanover Square,
which always has interesting shows. Daunt
on Marylebone High Street, for those seeking some
travel-writing inspiration – it has a great old-school interior,
too. Come evening, Ronnie Scott‘s for some amazing live

Where’s the best place in West London to wake up?

Claridge’s Hotel – my sister got
married there so it is very special to my family; it’s lovely.

What’s W1’s dress code?

It’s a whole mix, from classic, timeless dressing to fashion
forward styles.

Some must-visit shops in West London include…

Grays Antique Centre is my favourite place to look for
vintage jewellery. It is home to one of the world’s largest and
most diverse collections of fine antiques, jewellery and vintage
fashion. Around the corner on Marylebone High Street, drop into
MatchesFashion which has a great selection of brands. And, of
course, our own store at 38 Chiltern Street.

Do your surroundings impact your design?

I love objects and I’ve always been a collector of anything I
find interesting – such as vintage writing cases, Action Man
uniforms, antique charms and silver pencils. I collect a bit of art
too. I also often take inspiration from architecture. I love to
find inspiration in the ordinary and mundane, things that are
normally overlooked and make them special – things like chip forks
and cocktail stirrers. I go on lots of research trips to vintage
shops, flea markets and galleries.

One misconception about West London is…

That it’s boring. West London is constantly changing, and new
ideas and concepts are being implemented here all the time,
especially with the recent renaissance of

Underrated spots worth exploring…

Shreeji newsagent opposite the Chiltern
Firehouse; it’s a real institution with an incredible selection of
well-curated magazines.

Great coffee shops for afternoon catch ups…

The Monocle Café makes fantastic teas and pastries,
and The Wallace Collection is always worth a visit.
Its permanent collection is free to visit and it has a lovely café,
which also serves as a serene lunch spot.

Where should we go for a blow-out dinner?

The Wolseley is a great place for a special treat. I
love everything on the menu and the atmosphere of this

Where should we head post-party?

I don’t go out much now that I have a one-year-old son, but I
would say that the Chiltern Firehouse has a great
atmosphere at night in its bar. It has a great mix of people and it
can get very lively.

For a hit of culture head to…

The newly expanded Royal Academy of Arts usually
has great exhibitions. I also like to go to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park.

Your favourite places beyond London…

Sunbury & Sandown Antiques Market at Kempton Park
Racecourse. I just adore rummaging for inspiration here.

In Dartmouth, I love taking a boat up the river to Dittisham and
having lunch at the Anchorstone Café – it serves
unbelievable seafood. Note: it’s also great fun to go there for New
Year because the entire town dresses up in fancy dress and goes on
a long pub crawl.

Discover More
West London