top of page

The Duchess of Edinburgh in Canvey Island

The Duchess of Edinburgh attends the grand opening of the new Charfleet Book Bindery in Canvey Island on 27th June


HRH Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh attends the grand opening of the new Charfleet Book Bindery in Canvey Island. Photos Dave Benett

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh attends the grand opening of the new Charfleet Book Bindery on June 27, 2023 in Canvey Island, England. (Photo by Dave Benett/ for Charfleet Book Bindery) Dave Benett ©

Former Browns CEO Simon Burstein‘s latest project combines exquisite artisanal bookbinding with

the fashion entrepreneur’s vision for contemporary menswear.

From South Molton Street to Canvey Island, Essex

After a hugely successful career building Browns (1970-1982 and 2008-2015 - his parents’ iconic

South Molton Street stores) into a globally recognised fashion emporium, and in between heading

Sonia Rykiel in Paris (1985-2007), the next chapter of Simon Burstein’s business story sees the

entrepreneur amalgamate his passion for menswear, books and stationery, as he announces the

relaunch of Charfleet Bookbindery on Canvey Island in the Thames Estuary, as well as the

contemporary menswear and heritage brand, Leathersmith of London, which has been making

diaries and journals since 1839.

“When I sold Browns in 2015 to Farfetch, I had no idea I would end up owning a bindery business, but a series of serendipitous events combined with an unrealised love of artisanal bookmaking has led to where we are today, opening a brand-new state-of-the-art bindery facility on Canvey Island, saving a number of uniquely skilled roles, and relaunching a 184-year-old British Brand.”

Bound by a love of craft

T.J & J Smith was founded in 1839 (now under the name of Charfleet Bookbindery) and specialises in

the production of stunning bespoke diaries, journals, notebooks, and leatherbound goods.

In the 1950s, Edward Dudley Smith, who was the grandnephew of TJ & J Smith, travelled all over the

United States to promote the Leathersmith of London brand and was so successful that he

established offices in New York. He wore a bowler hat, carried an umbrella and looked like a

traditional Englishman.

The business was sold to H.Neale in 1987 who had built a bindery on Canvey Island after the Second

World War. When the business went into administration in 2015, Burstein stepped in to acquire it,

retaining the skilled artisan workforce (most of whom have two decades of experience) and moving

them into new state-of-the-art premises on Canvey Island, to be officially opened by HRH The

Duchess of Edinburgh on 27 th June 2023.

A heritage brand reborn

Burstein first discovered the heritage stationer Leathersmith of London not long after having his

passion for stationery was sparked by opening the first ever Filofax franchise shop during his tenure

there in Paris. Then, as now, it specialises in beautiful, handcrafted diaries, journals and desk

accessories. However, Burstein has ambitions to evolve Leathersmith of London into a lifestyle

brand, firstly with a range of stylish and practical bags and small leather goods to be shown at Pitti

Uomo in this June’23, and then featuring a relaxed and modern menswear collection informed by his

many decades of experience working with some of the most talented designers in the world.

“Despite being a heritage brand and existing for the best part of two centuries, when I discovered

Leathersmith of London, it was largely unknown. It has given me the opportunity to do what I love

the most, which is building brands, and so what is going to be really exciting is taking a business with

such a long and storied history, and evolving it into a modern lifestyle proposition, all the while

retaining its leather goods heritage.”

Back to Simon’s (The) Place London - retail concept

Central to Burstein’s vision for the Charfleet Bookbindery and Leathersmith of London are his retail

stores, The Place London (a menswear and womenswear store a couple of doors down from each

other) in Connaught Village and replicated in Paris in the heart of St Germain.

The Place sees Burstein back in familiar territory, going back to his roots building a novel retail

experience that showcases for women emerging fashion talent of any age and nationality, and for

men, an incubator of artisanal craftsmanship under the Leathersmith of London brand.


Explore Moralmoda Art Culture Lifestyle Travel Business Interviews Events ​ Get in touch About us Contacts Subscribe

bottom of page