In the past few weeks I have spent quite a lot of time with the lovely staff at Jean Rousseau in the Piccadilly Arcade. One of France’s hidden secrets in the leather trade, Jean Rousseau make lovely watch straps, belts and other leather goods with an emphasis on bespoke.


A readymade watch strap is £60 for calf, £155 for alligator. But for £75 or £180, you can pick out your own skin, as well as exactly which pattern of scales you want to run across the strap. Everything is broken down by small increments of price – hand stitching for £35, for example.


I like this philosophy, and it sticks out particularly in the leather industry. Most small leather goods are an add-on to a larger brand, and what you pay for is that brand. Few people think it’s worth spending the time to create bespoke versions of such (relatively) cheap products and have the individual service to match.




I should also mention that there is a good selection of skins on site, while a huge variety can be ordered in by virtue of Rousseau owning its own tannery near Besançon. And all the work can be done by one of the two craftspeople on site – much of it in front of you on the ground floor.

This, for me, is how a leather-goods shop should be.



Full report on having a watch strap made on The Rake


Photography: Luke Carby