H.J. Cave was founded by Harriet Jane Cave in 1839. Back then, women owned enterprises were quite rare. But Harriet’s company grew from impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail. Harriet would be the first woman to create her own luxury house, and the first to tailor designer leather products for women. As a trunk-maker steeped in royal heritage, H.J. Cave remains in a class of its own.
Through the past, present, and future
Harriet Jane Cave
In 1851, Harriet Jane Cave began making hand bags for women out of leather. This would mark the first designer leather handbag ever. A few years later, Cave would market the first leather handbags in Harpers Bazaar Magazine in 1868. This marks the first time "handbags" would be advertised.
Along with this remarkable achievement, H.J. Cave also received patents for the first ever expanding luggage, first railway basket, and first trunk for women. All of which would mark the first time utilitarianism, leather, and luxury would be combined, specifically for women.
H.J. Cave went on to receive Royal Warrants from both Her Majesty Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria. Special cases and collaborations with the crown made way for special products that gave elites the lightest taste of royal life. These included the Princess Imperial Trunk, an expanding leather trunk for women.
In 1868 H.J. Cave won the highest honors in the World Exhibition for the manufacture of Solid Leather Trunks and “articles de voyage.” Honorable mentions in 1862 and 1874. In 1878 Paris, Cave once again took home Gold, but also silver and bronze in several categories.
It was estimated as much as 3% of the world population attended these World Fairs.
“It is a wonder that so much genuine good taste in design and beauty of workmanship and finish can be embodied in articles so distinctly utilitarian.”
As the status of women evolved, Harriet noticed that women would carry their starched ballgowns and intricate in one luggage, but returned with two luggages as the used dresses expanded. H.J. Cave would introduce the first expanding luggage ever to solve this, and this soon became a favorite among both men and women British Elite. Cave also invented the lightweight Railway Basket for long journeys (essentially canvas trunks), and the extremely lightweight and strong Osilite trunks. H.J. Cave believed that trunks made of canvas should be referred to as “Baskets” as they were very lightweight like a basket. And oftentimes had flat tops in order to be stackable. H.J. Cave has crafted several prime ministers, royalty, celebrities, poets, and elites all around the world.
An Inspiration to Louis Vuitton and Gucci
In 1868, at the first World Fair Louis Vuitton attended, H.J. Cave went on to win Gold, while Vuitton would win a bronze. This again was the case in 1878 when H.J. Cave would beat out Louis Vuitton, Goyard, Moynat, and Asprey yet again to dominate the World's Fair winning Gold in several categories. Many critics at the time lauded the fact that H.J. Cave's trunks were solid leather, yet incredibly light. Whereas French brands like Louis Vuitton and Goyard opted for canvas, which some perceived as a cheaper and less durable alternative. H.J. Cave's storied approach to innovations in articles undoubtedly has had a lasting impact on several luxury brands as several leather handbags, wicker trunks (railway baskets), and small leather portmanteaus began showing up in LV & other brands collections in the early 1900's. Decades after H.J. Cave showcased their products to the world in front of the most prestigious brands.
Gucci is also said to have taken inspiration from H.J. Cave. Before Guccio Gucci would go on to found his house, he was an immigrant in London. He was said to have been inspired by the high-end British trunks while a bell boy at the Savoy in London. At the time, H.J. Cave was considered the most exclusive trunk-maker in London as they were the official supplier to the Royal Family and owned the world's largest trunk making premises just a stones throw away. Gucci's earliest trunks incorporate a large amount of leather, used brass locks & nails, and have similar handle structures to H.J. Cave's earlier designs.
Makers H.J. Cave
Produces Bespoke for Discerning Clientele
Today H.J. Cave is known for an impeccable focus on handmade craftsmanship. In strong keeping with the founding values of our brand, our leather goods exhibit a high caliber of precision. Each handbag is currently crafted to the highest specification, and only to the standards bespoke requires. High demand excites us, but quality remains an unyielding element of our integrity. From our family to yours, we wish nothing but perfection. As such, you must be invited to purchase with us.