Lowell Harder ( Founder of Radley ) a trained Australian architect, and mother to 3 young boys decided she needed a different direction in her life. At 33, Lowell no longer felt inspired by bricks and mortar, so she turned her hand to a different sort of design. This decision was influenced by unexpected visit from her cousin and some leather bags.
Her bohemian cousin had just returned from a trip to India with some vegetable tan leather bags and Lowell was immediately impressed by the unique designs.
Intrigued, Lowell contacted the manufacturer in India and arranged to have her own bags made and imported to London. Lowell arranged to import both “ethnic” Indian bags and bags that she designed for the Indian manufacturer to produce.
Lowell started trading on a Camden market stall under the name “Hidesign” in the 1980’s.
Standing just two days per week in London Camden Market was time enough for news of the bags to spread. They became very popular among shoppers and Lowell was approached by large retail chain John Lewis, regarding them stocking her bags. An offer from the retail giant for Lowell Harder to manufacture and supply John Lewis with her own bags was made.
Lowell realised even though this was a fantastic offer, the size of the orders from John Lewis meant she would need more financial backing.
Thankfully, Tula, the famous handbag producer, who Lowell had approached regarding this, agreed to help. In 1991 Lowells’s Market stall company became part of Tula. This gave Lowell the resources to expand her handbag line to include new designs that were both colourful and “fun”. Lowell’s designs and inspirations now had the backing to evolve even further. Unfortunately, retailers were not so happy with the vibrant designs. They requested a “tone down” of the designs.
This was an immediate success. Radley was founded in 1998.
Bags from 1998: ( see more of this range here )
Instead of giving into these requests to tone things down, Lowell had the idea of adding a West Highland terrier motif to the outside of the bags. This idea was inspired when Lowell was walking near her London home and saw a dog walker in a black coat and red hat and a black dog with a bright red collar. Lowell wanted to give her customers a brand with humour and eccentricity.
The scottie dog was then included on every bag design from late 2000 early 2001.
The Radley Brand grew and the History of Radley really started to show this was a popular brand in the making. As the years passed celebrities became fans of Radley. Over 20 Radley Stores have been opened so far. Radley also have their international website serving the UK, US and 45 other countries.
In 2010, they announced a partnership with Harris Tweed, to incorporate the Scottish textiles into the handbag designs, and in 2011 Olympus Optical announced a range of Radley inspired and branded eyewear.
Over the years Radley have expanded their range to include purses, shoes, scarves, hats, sunglasses, luggage and most recently launched the Radley Time and Radley Man collection.
Radley also release their Collector’s signature bags, also known as Picture bags. These started in 2002 and are normally released twice a year. A Spring/Summer and an Autumn/Winter release.
Also Radley also bring out on occasion limited edition bags, making the whole Radley Brand even more collectible and desirable.