There's no place like the Great British high street – from its iconic independents, to seasonal Pop-Ups and those expansive, world-class department stores – but we have reimagined our usual Store Stories feature as eStore Stories as we make the full-time switch to online browsing and no where to go. For the forseeable future, we'll be highlighting our favourite e-tailers to scope out the must-have pieces and online exclusives that get us inspired. This week, we spoke to Isabel Ettedgui, the owner of Connolly, about their brand-spanking new online shop.

Founded in 1878, Connolly began life as a while-you-wait shoe repair shop. It then moved into saddlery, before becoming the foremost purveyor of automotive seating hides for the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce. Also - little known fact - it's green Connolly leather that covers the seats in the Houses of Parliament.

Enter Isabel Ettedgui. Relaunched in 2016,  under her expert guidance Connolly’s legacy was built into the beautiful flagship store on Clifford Street. “Connolly," she shares, "is about the past and the future… It’s about understatement, and doing age-old things like tanning or tailoring, in a new way, with new designs, new shapes, new cuts; taking the traditional and making it modern… not doing new things in an old way.”

Navy Classic Rollneck

“When I opened at 4 Clifford Street in 2017,” she continues, “it was because I believed we could be relevant to the next generation... it is about touching their dreams with an authentic story. It is also about the hand, the feel of the artisan in all we make and sell.” Connolly is about whispering, not shouting. It's a brand that oozes confidence throughout its collections: their expertly tailored suiting, cosy cashmere knits and crafted leather bags have a cool assurance. “I hope its perceived as good value for money because a piece of Connolly is created to be with you for a very long time and where you spend your money matters… [it is] quiet luxury.”

“The most exciting part for me,” Ettedgui enthuses, “[is] working with the knowledge that this brand, established in 1878, is still relevant, still producing fine automotive leather and also moving forward with fashion.  [Setting up the e-retail space was] a huge challenge… I had to be dragged kicking into it, as my knowledge and instinct is physical retail!”  It was her friends, Tom and Ruth Chapman (the co-founders of who told her "it was arrogant not to have a shop where customers from all over the world could visit.  And I hope we have achieved this. The first weekend we went live, we had a customer in the USA, in Mexico and in Germany. We had closed the shop on the Friday (in line with government guidelines) and so we still felt connected to our customers… Tom and Ruth were proved right.”

'Leather Smoke' Candle

The online store is sleek, minimalist and showcases front and centre both its heritage (opening up with a Rolls Royce, natch) and iconic collection. “I love all the pieces,” Ettedgui states. “I think [Connolly] is all about the sporting classics… that rather elegant European style and memory from the fifties and sixties that I love - and so many iconic images the motoring giants the playboys the Riviera - it reflects that moment of rakish elegance. I’m lucky to have some very creative sporty young men and women on my design team and I watch what they like and wear from the samples, so we can translate things like the Loden knits, into a more relaxed street wear style.”

Connolly’s garments are presented as a unisex collection, "the idea of a shared wardrobe for tailoring and knit is at the core of our fashion collections… [there is a] subtle negotiation [in] persuading my generation to embrace it but when they do, they get it completely. My daughter’s generation would expect nothing less from us now.”

The new Deck Bag, “a development from the classic Sea Bag,” is a particular favourite. “It’s designed to carry your life in. It’s not a handbag for a man or a woman -  it’s a subtle, beautiful piece that is so understated, so complex to make, uses up a lot of top quality leather and made by incredible artisans in Spain. When I carry it it feels to me all about Connolly.”

Green Deck Bag

It also, says Ettedgui, “gives me such pleasure working with our designer Lorraine Acornley in Scotland and Italy.” And of the Connolly cashmere and merino knitwear “my favourite is probably the simplest merino fine gauge turtleneck we are doing this winter… it’s kind of perfect.”

Another “personal favourite is the candle created for us by Lyn Harris [called] 'Leather Smoke'. It smells of Connolly and memories past, it is evocative not overwhelming - how I hope Connolly is as a brand.”

“I wish,” continues Ettedgui, “I sold more essential goods to feed or nourish everyone in this crisis. I hope we come through it and that Connolly is strong enough to provide business support for our suppliers and artisans… and a little joy for our customers.”

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