Bondi-native, Ben Thompson has made finding the perfect tote bag that much easier! Ben is the man behind the luxurious Australian accessories label, Charlie Middleton. The instant appeal of Charlie Middleton  is the fact that Ben handcrafts almost all products at his studio in Bondi. Immediately, you know that every piece is made with love and care!

Ben is a talented Australian designer who has established himself in the industry with Charlie Middleton. The bespoke leather pieces are made with great skill and high quality materials, which not only highlight their exclusivity, but also ensure  they will last for years to come. A fantastic investment, Charlie Middleton bags are not only practical, but also timeless. 

Not only is each piece crafted by Ben's talented hand, he even lets you design your own bag! This includes selecting zippers, studs and handles of your own taste, and creating your dream tote. 

I had the opportunity in creating my very own tote, and of course it had to be all black with gold hardware! 

Nevertheless, I sat down with Ben and asked a few questions.

Where do you draw your inspiration from in creating these timeless pieces?
I am mostly inspired by vintage design. I can't help but appreciate the great workmanship and detailing from the past. Back then, things were built to last, a concept that is very much at the heart of the Charlie Middleton ethos. 

Which products do you find have been the most loved amongst your customers?
The most popular item sold at Charlie Middleton is the Bespoke Tote Bag, where customers are able to select their choice of leather, handles and hardware. With all the options available, the black leather with black handles combination proves to be a definite winner. 

You give customers the opportunity to tailor their own personalised tote bag. This must get challenging when you have so many differing designs! Was it difficult to handcraft each design to the exact specifications?
I had been making leather accessories for a few years before I started to make this simple tote bag, so it started out slowly, like most new ideas. The first ones were much more complicated, so over a period of months I redesigned the design down to what you see today. As I progressed I realised that by simplifying the design, I could make them to order in a range of different colours. My love of leather has definitely gotten a little out of control, as we now offer the bag in 35 different leathers! So it can be challenging to keep all those leathers in stock in the studio. However, knowing the excitement that my customer's experience when selecting their own bag makes the challenge well worth it. 

In three words, how would you describe Charlie Middleton?
Contemporary, yet timeless. 

Photography by Lisa Van / Interviewer Lily Van / Co-Writer Mariam Lutfi