We first came across Whitehill Mercantile through the magic of social media on the hunt for Glasgow-based brands. Before long, during a Christmas market at The Tramway in Glasgow’s Southside (when the Concept Store was still a pipe dream!) we met the man at the helm of the Whitehill Mercantile brand, Glasgow-born John Lundy. We loved his selection of bags and leatherwork and Whitehill as a brand shared our values where materials, quality and craftsmanship were concerned.
Fast forward to today and we are delighted to say we are a stockist. Our Concept Store looks all the better with these expertly crafted bags dotted about in their various distinctive colours and patterns, and we're pleased to say they've been a hit with locals and international visitors alike!
When curating brands for our Concept Store it was a key mission for us to support local brands as part of the process. Not only do we know how hard it is to go it alone, but we appreciate exactly what goes in to running your own brand and all the extra blood sweat and tears involved – often after you’ve worked your actual full time job!
Born on Whitehill Street in the East Side of the city, John says the brand name was a nod to his past which we think is a nice touch. Over the years he has spent time as far afield as New Zealand as well as almost a decade and a half in London, before finding his way back to Glasgow to settle down with his family.
‘I was involved in the fashion industry where I had various roles in QC, garment technology and pattern cutting before settling into Production and Product Development for various brands including Paul Smith, Kathryn Hamnett, Jigsaw and Mastrum as well as various freelance projects for new and start-up brands.’
It seems then a logical step would be to start your own thing with all that experience in the industry up your sleeve! The early days involved juggling a three-year old and battling the odd spider in his garden shed!
‘I've always wanted to do my own thing and at various points I have had small T-Shirt labels and stuff, I never really had the patience for clothes but while living in London I started to make a couple of bags for myself (I love a bag) and found that I was loving it and had loads of ideas of what I would want in a bag.’
When John says he loves a bag, he really means it. We are constantly seeing the development and innovation behind the brand, even down to individual panels and inch perfect measurements to swapping out materials. You can tell it’s an ever evolving process and its refreshing to have this sort-of candid insight into the thought and design process. It’s something that seems far removed from seeing a product on a shelve or in a shiny product image online – someone designed, redesigned, scrapped, re-built, remeasured, tested and agonised over it!
An average week John says is busy. Not half because running about after your seven year old daughter will keep you busy but amongst the pile of half finished samples, orders and supplies he explains generally there are moments where he likes the look of a sample but then the more he looks the more he wants to change. The curse of the creative mind!
'Very often the second sample is changing as I'm sewing or I'll decide to add bits...'
Each of his lines we carry in store have sold well but out in front by far is the Fountainwell Tote, and more specifically the Danish Camo version (pictured below with fellow local brand Dangerfield Mills), an easy carry which has gone down well due to the unisex appeal. Along with the Worker Bag they are the most frequently in rotation in the Whitehill workshop!
Amongst the most memorable milestones for Whitehill Mercantile was their Denim Tote being included in the Hiut Denim "Do one thing well" Guide 2019.
'...purely because it was quite early into the start of things for us and it came out of the blue. To be recognised by them and have one of our products put up with people like Margaret Howell was really exciting!'
Next on the horizon is apparel. The Mull Trouser can be viewed on the Whitehill Webstore now along with new Core and Script Pocket Tees. John says his vision for the future is to be able to make the brand more accessible to wholesale while building out his apparel lines, if his bags are anything to go by they’re going to be a real treat!
When asked for his thoughts on our humble brand...
'It's great to see an independent brand thriving in Glasgow, for a long time it felt like the Independent shop times of Glasgow was gone forever but it's coming back and it's great to see. The product is great and is offering something a bit different. It genuinely feels like it's an established name that has been around for years which I think says it all.'
A big thanks to John for taking the time to chat to us and for supplying us with his awesome range of bags and accessories. We're excited for what the future holds for Whitehill Mercantile. Drop in and see our ever changing range at our Concept Store in Glasgow and see what all the fuss is about!