As you may remember, I am a longtime fan of the Cambridge Satchel Company, and the proud owner of two colourful Batchels. I bought the first one when the company was just moving out of a family home and into a factory.
A few years on I am rapidly falling out of love with this previously unique business. I can understand that it must be a battle to stay ahead of the multitude of imitators it spawned, and that any business needs to dream up new and exciting ways to develop trade in order to survive. But alientating customers is not the way to go. In recent months the company teamed up with Vivienne Westwood to make a range of £195 satchels. Although slightly shocking, this was vaguely acceptable; Westwood is a huge name in fashion, and it is quite an exciting collaboration.
Then they launched a range of clutches (£165) and shoulder bags (£245). The comments on their Facebook page range from stunned to dismayed to downright vitriolic. Unsurprisingly, there was not one positive response to this pricing, though most people agreed the new range looks great. I personally love the purple and blue shoulder bags, and would have definitely bought them at a reasonable price. But why are they so costly when they are so much smaller and use way less leather than the satchels? The company posted a defensive comment saying that the bags are crafted with a clasp, but their customers' feedback seemed to fall on deaf ears. This is clearly a move away from being a reasonably priced family-originated company towards being an over-priced fashion label. It's just so disappointing.
I went to their Covent Garden store at the weekend, which used to be so busy. No less than five assistants all asked me one by one if they could help me, as they did with the two other customers in the shop. It was getting awkward. I admired the new range, sighed, and off I went. Goodbye, Cambridge Satchel. You used to be so innovative.