I have passed the Ghurka store on Madison Avenue in New York City countless times over the past 15 years. I always wondered what lay within what I considered a quintessentially men’s luxury leather goods shop. It’s only been over the past two years or so that I’ve become more acquainted with the brand and aware of the high quality of the leather used and the fact that the bags and accessories are all made by hand in America (locally in their Norwalk, CT workshop). The brand has evolved to represent the quality of American classicism every bit as much as brands like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein or Michael Kors. The travel bags are so classic in their design and they exude that preppy-rugged-masculine feel. Though the bags have a heritage rooted in men, the travel bags are also perfect for couples to share. High quality leather is always welcome in the jet set lifestyle.
If you have wondered, as I have, the story behind the name – it comes from Ghurka soldiers of the Himalayas who since the days of the British Raj have been known throughout the world for their bravery, loyalty, and cheerful indifference to all difficulty. The story begins at an antiquities auction in the early 1970s where the company’s founder Marley Hodgson, fueled by his love of history and leather craft, bid on campaign gear made for a Ghurka regimental officer stationed in India during the early 1900s. Inspired by the rugged elegance and workmanship of the 75-year-old leather, Marley made his first Ghurka bag, a leather knapsack, for his young son. It remained in the family and is still used daily by his granddaughter today. You’ve got to love a story like that. I enjoy knowing how these brands, housed among the Fifth Avenue retail giants, come to be — the people and personalities behind the labels.
Recently, this video came across my desk and I thought it would be fun to share on the blog. Ghurka founder Marley Hodgson shares the story of the creation of the original Ghurka bag, Express No. 2, in 1975. It’s quick and interesting! Take a look! It reinforces the idea that if you have the idea for a new product or clothing line — to go for it!
For those die hard Ghurka fans, who don’t want to wait years to break their new purchase in, you can visit the Vintage Ghurka archives for nicely aged older bags! There are also fabulous accessories such as watch boxes, umbrellas, belts, gloves, tie travel cases, eye glass cases, key rings, toiletries cases, flasks, notepads and believe it or not, leather footballs and baseballs. Give your man a little Ghurka love this Valentine’s Day! Enjoy! ~Melissa Hawks