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The Leather Shops of Brick Lane

October 13, 2012
by the gentle author

Everything at Oceanic Leather is made in Brick Lane

Not so long ago, almost all the shops north of the railway bridge in Brick Lane sold leather jackets and bags manufactured locally, but now there are only a handful of these businesses left. So Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie and I went along to find out what is going on in the world of East End leather, and we encountered an entire spectrum of human emotion.

The manufacture of leather garments is an age-old industry on this side of London, existing as part of the clothing and textile trade that was a major source of employment here for centuries. A hundred years ago, the industry was predominantly Jewish but when Asian people arrived in significant numbers in the last century they worked as machinists in a trade that they eventually took over and now, a generation later, they find themselves presiding over its slow demise.

At Truth Trading, 151 Brick Lane, I encountered the father and son in a family business that began in 1978, sitting facing each other across a desk in an empty shop. “It’s dead! I make but I can’t sell,” declared Abdul Bari, leaping up almost apoplectic with frustration at the seventeen pounds they had taken that day, while his son sat watching with visible concern for his father’s distress. A skilled man who trained as a cutter and knew everything there is to know about the making of leather garments, Abdul Bari worked in the trade locally since 1968. Then he started making clothes at home before opening a shop in Commercial St, graduating through premises in Wentworth St and Bell Lane, then purchasing the Brick Lane premises in 1986. “We have a factory in Pakistan with one hundred sewing machines but it is closed down because there are no orders,” he lamented, leaving me searching for words that might console him.

Across the road in the compact corner shop packed with glistening leather, Open Space, 200 Brick Lane, Mohammed Kamran was resolutely cheerful, explaining that his uncle Mohammed Yusuf Nagory started the business, making leather jeans and selling them at Kensington Market in the seventies. Moving to Brick Lane in the eighties, he started a factory with twenty-five people in Cheshire St which his nephew joined at fifteen years old. Today, as a smaller business they are sustained by loyal customers and have recently made costumes for Harry Potter and the West End theatre. Astonishingly, you can buy a handmade leather jacket there for as little as thirty-five pounds.

Mr Mahmood at the Brick Lane Boutique, 137 Brick Lane, who began working as a machinist twenty-six years ago and started his own business twenty years ago, explained the root of the problem to me. “When I started here, I used to sell everything I made, but now the Chinese use artificial leather and in the chain stores people can buy one of these jackets for £15. So why are they going to come here and spend £100 for real leather?” he asked, his eyes glistening with emotion as he gestured around his shop which was more-than-half given over to t-shirts, with leather jackets consigned to a corner. Fortunately our conversation was interrupted by a customer who did want to spend £100 for a real leather jacket and so I left Mr Mahmood to it, thankful that his salesmanship had been given an opportunity to shine.

Bashir & Sons (London) Ltd at Bashir House is a towering landmark at 180 Brick Lane, where you can walk in to admire a vast stock of leather jackets in every permutation of design upon rails in a labyrinthine ground floor showroom. I was welcomed by the ebullient Mr Ahmed, one of the brothers in this family business which started forty-six years ago in Commercial St and moved to the current premises thirty-five years ago. “I started when I was sixteen,” he admitted to me in a nostalgic tone, “In those days, the customers just came and bought the stuff but now we have to sell it.” With outlets in Birmingham and elsewhere, this is an elaborate operation, manufacturing in Asia and distributing throughout Europe. “We’re not the biggest but the best,” Mr Ahmed assured me, demonstrating professional charm while boasting Dustin Hoffman and Lennox Lewis among his customers, “And we sell the largest selection of fancy sun glasses in London.”

Further down, at 168 Brick Lane, another Ahmed,  proprietor of Oceanic Leather was the most frank of the leather sellers, in spite of his self-effacing demeanour. “A lot of people left or went bankrupt. We had a regular business and then one day it dried up.” he revealed with a melancholy frown, “I’ve suffered pain, but I rode out the worst part of it.” In his store, everything has been made in the workshop above, though there is nothing to indicate this to customers, just piles of pieces of high quality leather stacked up in the crowded space attesting to the distinction of the garments on display.

My final call was Rana Leather, 160 Brick Lane, where I discovered the proprietor Mr Rana and his beefy assistant trying to squash an impossibly large number of leather jackets into a tiny cardboard box. The beefy assistant held the box shut while Mr Rana wrapped it in tape and they succeeded in packing a curious irregularly-shaped parcel. Afterwards, Mr Rana wiped perspiration from his brow while explaining that he was one of three brothers who ran the business which started on Fashion St in 1975. This busy shop was filled with boxes of clothes in transit, as much a warehouse for the wholesale trade as a retail outlet, and it indicated that a certain volume of business was being done on the premises.

All but one of the leather shops I visited owned their buildings, which proved to be the key factor in their survival when others that paid the escalating rents had gone. I was fascinated to find that most were run by skilled men, experienced leatherworkers who offer the facility to have clothes and bags made to order. It was even more remarkable to learn that for a modest price you can buy a good quality jacket which has been made by hand in a workshop on Brick Lane. There may be only a few left, but my discovery was that these leather shops still have plenty going for them – if people only knew.

Abdul Bari, Truth Trading, founded his business by making clothes at home in 1978.

The grandchildren of M.Schulman, the kosher poulterer, gave this photo to Truth Trading, now operating from the same premises.

Mohammed Kamran’s uncle founded the business, Open Space, by selling leather jeans in Kensington Market in the seventies.

Mr Mahmood, Brick Lane Boutique, started as a machinist twenty-six years ago.

Mr Ahmed at Bashir Leather – “We are not the biggest but the best”

Ahmed, proprietor of Oceanic Leather.

Mr Rana of Rana Leather

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

You may also like to read about

The Barbers of Spitalfields

The Cobblers of Spitalfields

The Chicken Shops of Spitalfields

The Curry Chefs of Brick Lane

The Corner Shops of Spitalfields

32 Responses leave one →
  1. gary permalink
    November 29, 2012

    i want a shortish leather coat, not a matrix one, where man

  2. Tahillah Joseph permalink
    June 4, 2013

    Hiya, I would like some real leather trousers. What is the cost? Do I need to order beforehand or do you have them ready made.

  3. james jones permalink
    September 3, 2013

    I have had a leather safari jacket for 40 odd years.Size 42 chest.Made by “Suede and Leathercraft Ltd”.It is now worn and hard.Would appreciate any ideas for a replacement.


  4. November 27, 2013

    Hi just come down and see what we can offer, or call us on 0207-7299859 and ask for Barry. We can make anything to order, size and colour.

    Hope this helps



  5. February 16, 2014

    Dear sir,

    This is great pleasure for us to introduce ourselves to you as a leading and well known manufacturer,exporter,importer and supplier of leather and textile garments in which include leather jackets,pants,suits and all kind of gloves on behalf of our company named as PAKZAIB INTERNATIONAL situated in Sialkot the business city of Pakistan.For more details please visit our web:WWW.PAKZAIB.COM .

    We assure that our services and offers will really facinate you a lot .




    Marketing Department.

  6. July 7, 2014

    Malik Ahmed Mateen leather Garment’s Factory

    Exporter & Manufactures

    Hello Sir/madam

    How are you,
    Hope you will be Fine,

    We are one of the Leading Manufacturer Company of leather Garments, Export best quality of Leather Motor-bike Jacket,
    Motor-bike suits, Motorbike trouser, Leather pants, Leather jackets, Gloves, Motor-bike Shoes
    Cycling gloves, leather vests, leather wallets, leather boxing gloves,
    Leather Belts and All other products of Leather and so on.
    We would be great full to you for response us.
    Our company has been working since last 16 years ago, We are expert in this field And give’s a very cheapest rate that our customer easy to afforded it and much benefit for them,
    We use Top material Genuine quality,
    Our product’s have 1 year Time guaranty. Let’s try us for short trail order.

    Here the following details of my company.



    Web link:
    Mob: +923236122756, +923156122756

    Phone: +92-52-3560103


  7. Mr Don Anura Jayamanne permalink
    May 13, 2015

    Dear, Mr Malik ahmed,
    we are interstate have discussion with you Leather goods about and the Hair leather Material import contact Our company,

    Mr Don Anura Jayamanne
    Telephone 63-46-4190133
    mobile 63-919-3818577

  8. andy permalink
    October 16, 2015

    I need a supply of leather belts wide enough for big buckles etc depending on quality a regular order is guaranteed.

  9. Iqbal ahmad permalink
    October 24, 2015

    Hey Andy I would like to offer you the best quality as per your requirements.
    We are not big but I can assure you can find us best.
    07525821637 London.

  10. randall Chambers permalink
    November 21, 2015


  11. Muhammad Irfan permalink
    February 10, 2016

    “Quality Is Our Commitment”

    Hello Every One
    Hope you all enjoy good health
    I am Muhammad Irfan from London, a representative of leather jackets manufacturer in South Asia, we have been doing really well in Asian region now we have decided to expand our business and recently started to explore this side of Europe for our leather market. We make jackets from all kind of leathers including buffalo, cow, goat and sheep skin depending on our customer’s demand & quality of leather they want.
    We produce best quality leather jackets with cost effective prices. We can provide you jackets of any design you like and quality you love, I am sure that you will give us chance to prove our words.
    Hope to listen from you soon.
    My contact details are given below.

    Muhmmad Irfan

  12. Muhammad Arslan permalink
    August 4, 2016

    Dear Sir,

    We are manufacturers of leather garments and We mainly supply all kind of leather ladie long coats, Raw leather, MoterBike suites, Jackets, all kind any Gloves, Pents, Leather handbags Motor Bike, Cross Country Gloves, Dressing, Cycling, Golf, Batting, Mechanic, Horse, Riding Gloves, Garding Gloves, any other.Etc, , with best manufacturing, 100% best quality with Competative Prices. …..and anything you ordered we can made .

    Best regards,

    Muhammad Arslan
    Office:- Nai Abadi Talwaran Mughlan Jammu Road, Near New Cannt Public School Sialkot Pakistan.
    Ph.No: 0343-1114828, 0334-8087116

  13. November 7, 2016

    Dear Sir,

    We would like to introduce ourselves as one of the leading Manufacturers and Exporters of the Winter Gloves, Working Gloves ,Welding Gloves,Leather Belts, Summer Gloves ,Cycle Gloves ,Motorbike Gloves, Fancy Gloves. Leather Jackets,

    We are well established for the above mentioned products. Kindly visit our company website and let us know interested products. So, we will quote you most comprehensive prices for mutual business benefits among both of our organization. We are waiting your prompt reply.

    kind regards.

    Membership No. A-34584.

    Export Manager,




  14. January 1, 2017


    I hope, you’re doing good business and in perfect health.
    SHATZ TRADERS are pleased to introduce our self that we are Professional Manufacture & Exporters of all kinds of Leather Wear, Specially Leather Jackets, Leather Coats, Leather Gloves, Motor Bike Jackets & Motor Bike Gloves – Since 1992.
    In order to make production for international brands, we have a well equipped and organized unit in Sialkot enabling us to manufacture in excess of 50,000 to 100,000 products per month. We have a strict quality control in place with the services of very experienced staff of the gloves industry and a chain system in our garments production line up. We are selling our product mainly towards Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Mildest. We believe in providing fair and honest services to our valued clients.
    Our production for the famous high street brand names for world, testifies the quality of our products workmanship. We would like to be your one stop source for all of your needs.
    Member Of Associations;
    1- Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry Sialkot.
    2- Pakistan Gloves Manufacturers & Export Association Sialkot.
    3- ISO Certified
    4- CE Mark Certified

    I hope, you guys I like to work us. For more details contact me.

    Warm Regards,
    Talha Tahir
    Phone: 0092 (52) 4361048
    Mobile: 0092-333-1449363
    Skype: shatz.traders
    Office location: 13/213, Arazi Yaqoob, Sialkot-51310, Punjab, Pakistan

  15. April 21, 2017

    We are the tanners manufacture and exporters leather and leathers garments our firm name is White rose leather and leather garments and we produce in leather sheep goat cow leather for

  16. September 13, 2017

    Dear sir,

    Hope you are fine and doing well in respect of business.

    This is Ghulam Mustafa from Speed Meet International Sialkot-Pakistan.

    Actually we are Manufacturer for Leather Motorbike Garments , Leather Suits , Leather Fashion

    Jacket , Leather Jackets , Leather Pants , Gloves , Boots , Bags , Rain Suits , Textile Leather Jacket ,

    Chaps, and Other Accessories.

    We believe that our garments could fit well within your market

    and will make strengthen to your valued customers

    and so we would like to present our products to you and your appropriate team.

    You can check our products from the link:

    I , and my staff, look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Ghulam Mustafa
    Email :
    Contact : 03436336008
    : 52-3255856
    Adderss: Haji Pura Road Fateh Garh , Mohalla Maharaj Pura ,

  17. October 5, 2017

    Dear sir,
    This is great pleasure for us to introduce ourselves to you as a leading and well known manufacturer,exporter,importer and supplier of leather and textile garments in which include leather jackets

  18. Elaine Bone permalink
    November 5, 2017

    I would like a pair of black soft leather jeans made in a size 6 along with a short black plain leather skirt size 6 please. Can anyone who can do please contact me.

  19. December 22, 2017

    We hope you are fine and doing well.
    We are professional manufacturer leather goods and textile garments. We have All products Available
    We offer Good quality All products at very wholesale prices,
    I wish to work with you for a long time.
    I will send you free sample you checked the my quality you don’t have any complain
    Available every color and Sizes
    Global International

  20. February 21, 2018

    Respected Sirs,

    Wish you a good day,

    I’m just coming through your website I am very impressed by your products; I admire all your leather jackets & vest coats clothing, That’s why my extreme desire is to become a part of your business as a supplier. I’m sure we are able to fulfill all your demands.

    FOX LEATHERS is pioneer in the manufacturing of leather jackets & vest coats clothing since1999, Including Leather pants wear and leather gloves.

    Our sales team requests you to allow us to send you samples to provide the opportunity to test our workforce. At the same time, this will let you see for yourself the quality of materials and finishes.

    In achieving this goal collectively we are fervently waiting for your optimistic remarks.

    I look forward to hearing from you,


    Address: P/O Fateh Garh, Mohallah Boggrah, Daska Road,
    51310 Sialkot – Pakistan.
    Cell: +92-335-729-3334

  21. December 18, 2018

    Dear Sir,

    We take this opportunity to introduce our self as a leading manufacturer/Exporter of all kinds of leather jackets, gloves, accessories etc. We are exporting our products in various countries of the world. Please feel free visit our website let’s know your requirements.visit my facebook.

    Due to our fine quality and highly competitive price, we have a good reputation in the world market.

    Our management has decided to expand the business in your country and looking forward trust-worthy buyers. We hope you would show your kind interest in our products and like to check our samples.

    We are very confident by looking our samples you can easily assess the quality of our products and workmen-ship.

    Thanks for your kind co-operation in advance.

    Best regards,
    Shams Ali

  22. January 27, 2019

    Open Space 200 Brick Lane

    The only Real Leather shop which still does Manufacture All leather goods in Brick Lane.

  23. Vince permalink
    October 5, 2019

    I want a dark brown suede waist length jacket with point collars. I don’t want zip closure I want buttons. I like slash/side pockets and a gusetted back/bi swing/action back.
    I Doubt you have anything that fits this description. But I will come have look.

  24. October 3, 2020

    I have a half leather half mink brown coat which I wish to part exchange for a calf length leather coat of yours. my coat was priced at £330 has only been worn twice so no wear the coat is as new, it came from a retailer in germany. please send details of starting price of calf length leather coats to
    tel 07875505348
    thankyou jean rowlands

  25. kanak inc permalink
    October 7, 2020

    all we are exporter of leather garment for men and women if some one require best proto sample we can serve with quality .one touch .lamb .nappa with best desine . you can send mail and contact us .

    sushil sharma


  26. Chris permalink
    February 26, 2022

    I’d like to buy my partner a really short (10-12″) leather mini (size 10) for a night out she’s planning for next week; where would be the best place to have this made?

  27. May 29, 2022

    Lovely Blog… Quite interesting and informative blog…Thanks for sharing it…

  28. NAIM KHAN permalink
    June 21, 2022

    + 92 321 2122667
    kaynkayz84@gmail .com

  29. January 3, 2023

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along totally agree with what you have said! Nice blog.

  30. Tauheed Tauqir Alam permalink
    January 17, 2024


    Hope you are fine.

    This is Tauheed from Sultan Tanneries & Leather Products Pvt Ltd. I am
    attaching PDF Catalogs of our Products for your reference.

    Our company is situated in Kanpur, India. We manufacture Finished
    Leather and Leather Goods such as Leather Bags, Belts, Wallets, Card
    Holders, Passport Holders, File Folders and Safety shoe uppers.

    Our team is made up of individuals with a wealth of expertise and
    solid technical skills. They are competent to deliver leather items
    and are aware of the client’s needs. We offer goods in both
    conventional and cutting edge designs. They come in a range of
    varieties, are long lasting, and have a contemporary style.

    Kindly let us know if you want to develop a Business relationship with
    us. We will assure you with best quality products at best prices.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Tauheed Tauqir Alam
    Sultan Tanneries & Leather Products Pvt Ltd

  31. January 31, 2024

    Dear Sir,
    Our Company name is Fames Export form Pakistan (Sialkot) and we are working in the leather apparel industry producing leather ladies bags, gents leather wallet, Leather Fashionable jackets, West coast leather motor bike leather suits, motor bike leather jackets, & Leather Coat & other all leather apparel, Motor bike pants, leather belts and Accessories. We have seen your sourcing products and we wanted to tell you that we are in the leather apparel market for last 19 years producing the products what you’re looking for. It would be great if you visit our virtual show room to see if we both are on the same page. We will make your order with high quality and low price. . Your order will be according to your demand. Try us by placing an order once. Please contact us on our email address or WhatsApp number to contact us. Visit our website to see more of our products. We hope for a positive response from you soon.Thank you.
    We are looking for a chance to supply you satisfied & reliable products.
    Thanks & Regards:
    All our Management
    Fames Export
    Address: Pakistan (Sialkot)
    WhatsApp: +923254010289
    Mobile number:+923254010289
    E-Mail Address:
    Web Site:
    Visit us for Future Business Commitments

  32. July 4, 2024

    Dear Sir (s),

    We are the garments manufacturer and exporter which can produce different styles of garments.

    We can customize for your brand, your logo, OEM service.

    We can make for men’s, women’s and Kids. We accept small minimum order quantity with adorable price, and we

    have clients from listed companies. So the quality is guaranteed.

    We wish to help you develop the local market with our good cooperation and competitive prices.

    For your required products kindly visit our website and alibaba mini site;

    Welcome to contact us anytime.

    With best regards,

    Description: For Signature

    Description: Sedex Information Exchange Limited Logo Vector – (.SVG + …

    Fitness gears / Sports wear / Gym wears / Casual wears

    Mr. Saleem Shahzad

    +92300 6120165 +92 52 4586049 / 4603987
    Near Rahmania Masjid, Mohallah Islamabad, Sialkot 51310 – Pakistan.

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