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July 13, 2016

Made in Adelaide: Jade and Beckett leathergoods

From the initial inspiration to the meaning behind the name, Jade and Beckett is all about family.

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  • Story: Sharmonie Cockayne

Emma McKinlay didn’t plan to be a bags and accessories designer – she fell into it.


The Jade and Beckett online store went live just this week, and the current collection of neckwear is featured in local designer Stephanie Chehade’s 2016 campaign. In October, Emma will also be taking the brand to the Adelaide Fashion Festival markets.

Her appreciation for good leather came from an old, intricately detailed leather bag she inherited from her grandmother.

That affection for the product transformed to fascination with the craft when she found herself standing in front of a craftsman making a pair of fine leather loafers in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

“I kind of just really fell in love with the process of leather and leatherwork, and I came back and though ‘Yeah, I’ll make bags.’ And now we’re here,” says Emma.

‘Here’ is her home studio, where she hand-makes her range of black and tan handbags, belts and neckwear. Each item is made with vegetable-tanned leather locally sourced from D.S. Horne and Adelaide Leather and Saddlery.

“Each piece is individually cut out and then it’s lined with leather as well. It’s all hand punched and hand laced. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle – they all fit together, and you stitch them all together,” says Emma, who is self-taught.

The first bag that Emma made was a tall tote, which she she still uses day-to-day.

“I just chuck every thing in there, all my kids’ stuff. It’s still fashionable, you can put everything in it, close it up and off you go,” she says.

It’s fitting that Emma, who is a mother of two, uses the bag for the school run, as her brand is named after her children’s middle names.

“It kind of drives me to push myself further. Then, hopefully, if anything comes of this in the future and it takes off, it’s for them to do with what they will.”

It’s that family attitude that makes Jade and Beckett so unique in a market full of sales-driven minds. Emma’s product stands out because she’s ok with going slow.

“I’m not really thinking like ‘Yep, this is what I want to do.’ It’s kind of just flowing. Wherever it will take me it will take me… I think the possibilities are endless.”

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