Designer, retailer, brand owner and businessman, Graeme Ellisdon was born on 7th July 1955 in Hertfordshire. Leaving school to try his hand at a series of jobs, he then decided to travel the world. On returning to England and no formal design training, Graeme founded OSPREY LONDON in 1980 with just £500, creating a collection of beautiful handmade leather belts.
Snapped up almost immediately by some of the UK's leading retailers, his best-selling belts were soon joined by leather bags and accessories for women and for men, offering a modern, spirited take on a quintessentially English heritage look.
"I have always loved working with leather because it's a natural material with real integrity that improves with age," he explains. "When I'm making a bag or a belt or a wallet, it reminds me of my father who was a carpenter. As natural materials, leather and wood require work and craftsmanship to transform them from something raw into something beautiful that lives on. There's something about the ancient simplicity of that which I really relate to."
Rather than sketching designs on paper, Graeme has always preferred to respond to the leather and engineer it into a working 3D sample. It's this built-engineered approach that ensures OSPREY LONDON bags, belts and accessories are so successful in real-life use. Every strap, pocket and fastening has been considered and put through its paces so it not only looks gorgeous but it works beautifully!
In 2006, Graeme launched his first diffusion collection for women - O.S.P OSPREY. With a sportier and more contemporary vibe than OSPREY LONDON, it offers a smart and affordable mix of sleek business bags and relaxed,sporty handbags in the most beautiful leathers. In 2013, O.S.P OSPREY for men was launched, featuring a range of messenger and leather cross-body bags .
Since 2001, Graeme and wife Alex have run OSPREY Graeme Ellisdon Ltd from a former Victorian hat factory in Luton, which now forms the company's stylish head office and showrooms, not far from the home they share in the Hertfordshire countryside with their three children and their dogs.
In recent years, Graeme's approach to construction, natural materials and craftsmanship has seen him travel the globe to work with like-minded manufacturers, extending the brand seamlessly from leather bags and accessories into other materials such as silk and cotton and other product categories, with a men's shirt collection launched in 2011 as the first step into clothing.
As passionate about the development of the business as he is about the product itself, Graeme is a true business pioneer, spearheading the company's move into internet retailing in 2005 and extending the company's retail presence, with the development of the OSPREY HOME lifestyle concept store. In 2009, Graeme launched the first of what is now ten award-winning OSPREY LONDON outlet stores, offering great product at the right price, with first class service in premium-looking stores.
Having celebrated the company's 30th anniversary in 2010, Graeme returned the brand to the capital with a new London flagship store in 2014, at 27 Regent Street, St James's. In a landmark listed building on the corner of Jermyn Street, the two storey flagship is home to the brand's leather collections for her and for him as well as jewellery, homewares, taxidermy and an intimate Saddlery Cafe serving a fine selection of teas, coffee, Belgian chocolate, savouries and cakes - all of which are wheat and gluten-free and 100% delicious.
2015 saw further expansion of the OSPREY LONDON collection, with new lines for men and for women; new home fragrance and even OSPREY LONDON tea. In the autumn, Graeme and Alex opened a new OSPREY LONDON store at Battler's Green in Radlett, Hertfordshire.
Having opened the brand's latest OSPREY LONDON store in Ashford in spring 2016 and with plans underway for further expansion, these are exciting times for Graeme and OSPREY LONDON.