Companions for a lifetime - our vision
In July 1999 a man came to see me. He was just passing through. Mid-fifties, adventurous type. He came to show me his bag. A leather Harold‘s bag in excellent condition, one of the first models that we produced in Colombia. This bag had accompanied him on his travels around the world for the last 15 years. The leather had a fantastic patina. It seemed as if, for this man, the bag told the stories of his travels.
We still have this model in our range in its original form. Since he wanted to keep the first bag as a memento, he bought the same bag a second time. It‘s not quite as unique as the first one, he said, but that will change when I go on my travels again. This encounter shaped by whole vision of Harold‘s: To create sustainable bags with a timeless design and exquisite craftsmanship.
– companions for a lifetime –
Craftsmanship in third Generation
How it all began…
In 1936 my grandfather, Nikolaus Schmelz, laid the foundation stone for Harold‘s in Obertshausen where he opened a workshop producing leather bags. For nearly 80 years we have continued to develop our production processes. My father Günter Schmelz has worked in the company since 1955. He systematically built up long-standing cooperation agreements with foreign partners, initially in Italy and later in Colombia and India. Carefully selected materials as well as skilled craftsmanship and know-how have always been the basis for our bags.
In 1999 I, Thilo Schmelz, joined the company. Being a qualified architect, I compare a bag with a house where people like living. Its form and function are well-planned, its design and life cycle long-lasting and it is made of authentic materials. This method of working shapes the qualitative and aesthetic image of the Harold‘s brand today: constructive, timeless design, first-class craftsmanship and natural leather.
Company founded by Nikolaus Schmelz
Entry of Günter Schmelz into family business
Cooperation with production partner in Florence-Scandicci under brand name Harold‘s
Establishing the cooperation with colombian family company and production of high-grade bags in colombian Vaqueta-leather
Foundation of family business in India
Entry of trained architect Thilo Schmelz into family business – 3. generation – and the beginning of focusing on sustainablity und development Harold‘s Concepts line
Resumption of production in Germany
A constructive process - design
During the design process, some questions are asked again and again: What are the demands of the material – what are the demands of functionality – what are the demands of craftsmanship – what does the bag want to look like – what will it look like after years of use? As a result of intensive discussion of these questions, we have succeeded in combining functionality with the special characteristics of natural leather and traditional techniques of leather processing.
This is the origin of the very special character that is the hallmark of Harold‘s bags: You can use them on any occasion – they become more beautiful with time – they tell stories – they adapt to the needs of their wearer – they are unobtrusive, and yet individual and the design is timeless.
Bags for a lifetime - sustainability
„Harold‘s accompanies you for a lifetime…“
We think a bag is sustainable if it has a long life and gives its owner years of pleasure. And how do we achieve this? By working hard on the durability of the materials, the quality of craftsmanship and the timelessness of our designs. We carefully harmonise these various elements in the production of our bags because each individual link is crucial to the quality of our products. The longer and more intensively our products are used, the better their environmental footprint – an effect that our customers really appreciate.
Leather tells stories - material
Harold‘s uses robust and expressive leather, processed according to their own methods. The leather retains its open pores and is gently finished. This means that the raw material can still be seen in our products and gives them a unique feel. One of our central requirements is that the leather develops its own individual beauty through use. The best way to ensure this is to use vegetable tanning processes. The leather comes from cattle that are reared and graze in the mountains at altitudes of 3000 metres or on vast, hot plains, and spend the whole year outdoors, usually far away from civilisation.
They graze on natural grasses so that their hide develops a balanced fibre structure. This is the guarantee for the long-lasting durability of our leathers.All the leather hides are leftovers – i.e. waste from food production. When it comes to cotton fabrics, we make sure we use yarn of certified organic quality. The fabric is woven in Germany using our own methods so that it is extremely tear-proof and abrasion-resistant.
Know-how, that we share - craftsmanship
Harold‘s looks back on almost 80 years of traditional production of top quality, durable bags. We achieve this by sharing know-how. The design and development of our products as well as the manufacture of a few select lines is done in our production plant in Obertshausen, a little town near Frankfurt in Germany. We share our experience with natural leathers with our long-standing and trusted partners in India and Colombia.
We regularly talk to our partners in their countries and analyse the special features of the local craftsmanship in order to guarantee that our design ideas are implemented as successfully as possible. We work together on the basis of respect and trust to achieve our vision:
To create sustainable bags with a timeless design and exquisite craftsmanship.
Harold‘s – companions for a lifetime –
A transparent process - production
To create sustainable bags with a timeless design and exquisite craftsmanship the level of craftsmanship must be on a constantly high level. Consistent and transparent production conditions are the basic prerequisites to guarantee this.
Intensive training and period of familiarisation, contracts laying down working hours, safe and hygienic conditions and evenly distributed order books ensure stable working conditions. This is the only way to preserve and develop our know-how in continual dialogue with our partners. Detailed portraits of our manufacturing facilities in India and Colombia are described here: