Fashion: Natalie Bolton, creative director of Radley

Natalie Bolton in her studio.
Natalie Bolton in her studio.
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Design flair and attention to detail have made the Scottie dog a global brand

How old are you? Where are you based?
I’m in my late forties and I’m based in Islington, London.

Esher Street Medium Flapover Backpack.

Esher Street Medium Flapover Backpack.

What do you do in a typical day? 
I don’t seem to have a typical day. It depends where we are in the season, it could be anything from discussing range plans to working on colours, key shapes, designing or amending. I still like to draw and get stuck in.

What is your training/background? 
I have worked in handbag design my whole career and have a degree in footwear and accessories.

How did you come to work for Radley? 
I was approached many years ago, when it was still finding its way and needed a new designer. I have now been at Radley on and off for 15 years, working my way up from senior designer to creative director.

What’s different about your products? 
Personality! We make sure we look at everything from the smallest design details to the quality of leather. Our final sign-off is always our iconic Scottie dog logo, which we love and has been a part of our brand from the beginning. Starting from just a small sketch by one of our in-house designers, our customers fell for him instantly and he’s been with us ever since.

Pudding Lane Large Ziptop Acrossbody.

Pudding Lane Large Ziptop Acrossbody.

What challenges have you faced? 
It’s my job to steer the direction of the brand. We have a very loyal customer base but we’re always looking to move forward while keeping the essence of the brand. We strive to do things that bring new customers in alongside our core customer.

What was the biggest surprise along the way? 
Just how much the brand is loved. We have always known we’ve got loyal customers but we recently opened in the US and they love us there too.

What is the fun part of your job? 
Travelling. It’s always been a passion of mine and to have a job that allows me to do it is amazing. I love travelling with the team, seeing them inspired – that’s when a collection really starts to come together.

What are the trends for next year in bags? 
We are seeing a big move to more casual styles, lovely oversized hobo handbags are a personal stand-out for me – in our own collection we have colour blocked this design with a mixture of interesting textures.

Burnham Beeches Large Flapover Shoulder Bag.

Burnham Beeches Large Flapover Shoulder Bag.

What is your most popular product? 
The Liverpool Street collection is a great seller for us, it was a new collection last year that combined our traditional functionality with a modern edge.

Who are your customers? 
Women who love functionality without having to compromise on style.

Which items do you have at home from your range? 
I have many items from our range. At the moment I love the Burnham Beeches collection. I’m lucky I have a loft which holds my own personal archive of products, so I can find old styles that fit my needs. As our collection features both leather and non-leather, I can easily find something for every occasion.

What are your goals? 
To make Radley a successful international brand with personality.

What’s your style philosophy? 
Relevant, wearable styles that fulfil your lifestyle needs.

Where are your products made? 
In India and China by wonderful factories that are very much part of the Radley family.

Who has influenced your style? 
I love art and how that influences life, I’m a bit of a magpie and get a little obsessive about things – I did this with the Bloomsbury Group. I loved their bohemian, intertwined lives and beautiful passion for art. At the moment I’m also taking a lot of inspiration from the textile designer William Morris.

Who are your favourite designers? 
I love Marni and Dries Van Noten – both for their modern and vibrant interpretation of shape, pattern and colour.

What is your inspiration? 
Life, along with everything and everyone in it. You can get so much inspiration from looking around you.

Whose style/designs do you like most? 
I love fashion and looking at everything from artisan craft to modern tailoring techniques. It’s amazing to me how much things can be changed by the adjustment of a seam. Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent always inspire me. Leave me in a fashion museum all afternoon and I would be in heaven.

www.radley.co.uk