Travel In Style

Travel In Style

From nifty wash bags to opulent eye masks, when it comes to luxury travel accessories for men, Otis Batterbee has it covered. Here, we speak to the man himself about his accidental rise to accessory superstardom

What inspired you to create luxury travel accessories?

I was looking for a wash bag and I just couldn’t find anything that was stylish and well made for under £100. In 2008 I designed a range of wash bags and showed them to the department store Liberty who bought them all on the spot. I’d accidently ended up with an accessories label. I then added to the collection with a range of eye masks, travel pillows and other gifts.

How did you go about entering the luxury market?

I studied Fashion at Central St Martins School of Art and Design and even though I trained in womenswear I was always more interested in the accessories. Following graduation I worked for a number of fashion houses and then launched Otis Batterbee.

What were the biggest challenges in the beginning?

The biggest challenge was that the business had to be profitable from the beginning. I wasn’t an ex banker and unlike most people who launch brands I didn’t have backers so I arrived at all of this quite naively. After my Liberty appointment I became a travelling sales man for the next 12 months approaching storesl like Fortnum & Mason and Harrods. I was very lucky – everyone wanted to stock the brand.

How has the brand developed/changed since it launched?

We have become more refined over the years yet a lot of the products we sell today are products we first launched with. We have gained more stockists internationally and introduced a new range of leather goods too.

Where are your products manufactured and how?

The majority of our products are made in our workshop in the heart of the English countryside but we have started producing a few accessories in Italy too.

Who is Otis Batterbee’s target consumer?

The famous people who buy our products are Bryan Ferry, Robert Downy Junior, Florence Welch and Rita Ora. All our customers are important and we are lucky to have a broad appeal.

What makes you so successful?

I have learnt so much over the past seven years and haven’t stopped. I’m lucky to have a great business partner and we are both involved in every element. Most people will assume that I wouldn’t have a grip on the financial side of the business but I’ve had to have that from the word go.

Where do you find inspiration for your collections?

Savile Row and the British countryside are big influences on my designs. More recently I have been inspired by the Isokon, a modernist building in North West London. I took a picture of a floor tile in the building and turned this into a print which has been used across our new range of travel bags and wash bags. The handles have been influenced by the balconies of the building too.

What are your biggest selling pieces?

Wash bags and eye masks are currently our biggest selling products. It never fails to amaze me how many people need an eye mask.

Where are you stocked?

It was very exciting having Liberty as our first stockist. I actually got my samples produced by a lady in Hampstead, after my meeting with Liberty I set about finding a workshop to produce the items. Luckily my Great Grand Parents used to manufacture for Liberty and Harrods in the 60’s through to the 90’s so I had a few contacts up my sleeve. Now we are stocked in Liberty, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Bergdorf Goodman NY, Printemps Paris and Ships in Japan to name a few.

Which of your products do you never travel without?

An eye mask. It’s essential when you need to glamorise that cheap seat.

What’s next for the brand?

We launch our travel bags and wash bags exclusively in Harrods luggage department this June. We are also currently producing our first range for women and that will be in stores this June too.