Billy Tannery: The First New UK Tannery For Nearly A Century

Billy Tannery (a sustainable retail start-up that was launched in 2016) is a new British leather business that’s going against the grain. Find out how below.

After discovering that thousands of goatskins were going to waste from the food industry, Billy Tannery’s two Co-Founders (Jack Millington and Rory Harker) set out to find a renewable solution.

Now, their small-batch tannery based in the Midlands turns sustainable, premium goat leather into beautiful handcrafted bags and accessories for men and women, including their best selling men’s weekender Gote bag, and the Newsboy Cap (in collaboration with Laird Hatters).

With backgrounds in marketing and design, the pair had no prior experience in the leather industry, but after discovering the terrible waste of goat hides in the UK, they decided that they had to act upon it. It was while helping his father (a goat farmer in Leicestershire), that Jack discovered that there were no tanneries producing goat leather in the UK, and the idea developed from there. 

In 2016, Jack and Rory launched the business from a new “micro-tannery” built on the farm, where they now specialise in producing small batches of goat leather in a similar way to a microbrewery with beer. Their versatile and sustainable goat leather (produced using traditional bark tanning techniques) formed the foundation of Billy Tannery’s range of leather bags and accessories, which is made in small UK workshops. 

Jack said: “Rory and I saw a massive problem, and we decided that with our experience in branding and marketing, we could turn this waste into worth. We’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made in the past four years, and there’s a really exciting future ahead for Billy Tannery.”

As well as diverting hides from landfill, Billy Tannery also uses an innovative vegetable tanning process that recycles 90% of the water, and turns waste into compost. Their range of products includes bags, wallets, and aprons, and regular collaborations in footwear, headwear, and further afield. The brand offers a lifetime repair guarantee on all of their products.

Billy Tannery sources its goatskins from Cabrito Goat Meat (Founded by James Whetlor in 2012). Cabrito won an Observer Food Monthly Award (2014) for “Best Ethical Producer,” Good Housekeeping’s “Champion Meat Producer (2016),” and the Young British Foodies Meat Award (2016), as well as being a finalist in the Radio 4 Food Programme Food and Farming Awards (2017).

Earlier this year in 2021, Billy Tannery secured its first overseas stockist: their full range is now stocked in the Vulcanize London store in Tokyo, Japan. Vulcanize London is a specialist in British luxury goods, particularly in the leather goods space, and stocks brands such as Smythson and Globetrotter.

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