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About Us

Our Story

In the early 1970's, founder Marley Hodgson found himself at an estate sale in the UK where he encountered a rare collection of campaign gear once belonging to a British Ghurka commander stationed in India at the turn of the century. There were boots, belts, backpacks, all almost 100 years old, yet the leather remained supple, sturdy and full of character. Captivated by the collection, he returned to the US and made his first Ghurka bag, a leather knapsack. In 1975, with the world's finest leathers, the upmost attention to detail and respect for the craft, Marley designed his first Ghurka collection at a factory in Norwalk, Connecticut. For over 40 years, proud generations of artisans have upheld the craftsmanship, quality and purpose of Ghurka. The same factory is still handmaking the Original Collection today.

The History of the Gurkha Soldiers

Their indomitable spirit is legendary. During World War II they snuck through enemy lines at night, only to cut the shoelaces of sleeping enemy troops with their trademark kukri knives for sport. Whispers of Gurkha tactics struck fear into the heart of Axis soldiers. During the last days of the Falkland War rumors of a Gurkha-led invasion sent Argentine defenders into panic.

Our Commitment

The Ghurka collection is handmade by real people - artisans who have spent their lives learning the art of making beautiful and practical things out of fine leather. Many of these artisans have been crafting Ghurka bags throughout our 40 year history and reside in Norwalk, CT, northern Italy, the foothills of southern Spain, and beyond. Our commitment is that each item bearing the Ghurka name has been made with the utmost attention to detail and respect for our craft.

The Making of a Ghurka Bag

Since our founding, Ghurka has set out to manufacture the highest quality handcrafted leather goods available. This has always begun with using only the finest hides in the world. While there are endless varieties of leather available, only a handful pass the rigorous selection process required to bear the Ghurka medallion. Likewise, our signature solid brass hardware and trademark stitching process ensure that our bags deliver an unparalleled owner experience and lifetime of use.

  • 1

    Selecting the Hides

    learn more

  • 2

    Tanning and Coloring

    learn more

  • 3

    The Art of Stitching

    learn more

  • 4

    Ghurka Hardware

    learn more

    Selecting the Hides

    Ghurka leather is never pretreated to remove any flaws, so we must begin by using the most naturally flawless hides available. While we utilize a variety of leather types based on which is best suited to a particular product, the majority of our goods are made from French calfskin. Calfskin has a finer grain and softer feel than traditional cowhide as the younger age of the animal brings less exposure to the harsh elements, the main cause of imperfection. French calfskin in particular is considered the finest in the world due to the fact that farms in France do not use barbed wire, one of the leading causes of mars and scratches. As no two skins are completely alike, each and every handcrafted leather Ghurka product will have an individual character that adds to its unique patina as it ages.

    Tanning and Coloring

    All Ghurka leather is vegetable-tanned, a centuries-old process which uses only naturally occurring tannins to treat the hides. Because only natural elements are used, it is not only the most environmentally responsible process for tanning, it is also the most gentle on the hides, allowing the skin to retain its tight fiber structure resulting in better wear over time. Vegetable tanning is a costly, labor-intensive process. Our pebbled hides are slow tanned, soaking in large drums with their tanning solution for no less than 30 days, which is the only method that is able to deliver the durability, feel, and eventual patina for which Ghurka products are so well known.

    The Art of Stitching

    We use an extra-thick spun nylon that should never snap or fray, and all of our craftsmen ensure that each and every piece is stitched to our exacting standards. A careful review of any two parts of a Ghurka leather luggage piece will reveal exactly the same number of stitches per inch, a requirement for anything that leaves our workshop. The placement of these stitches is equally exact, precisely laid out to the millimeter to ensure that every bit of leather is assembled to last a lifetime.

    Ghurka Hardware

    Brass is the only metal we've found that offers the strength, durability, and reliability that have become our hallmark. Every single piece of our hardware - from zippers, buckles, and hooks to the smallest of snaps and rivets are made solely from this rugged and beautiful material. A great deal of time and expense has been invested in perfecting our brass zippers. Every single tooth is individually machined and polished to ensure flawless operation after years of continuous use. And since all of our leather briefcase and leather travel bag hardware is solid brass and never plated, it too will develop a unique character and patina as it ages alongside our famous leather.

  • 1

    Selecting the Hides

    learn more

  • Selecting the Hides

    Ghurka leather is never pretreated to remove any flaws, so we must begin by using the most naturally flawless hides available. While we utilize a variety of leather types based on which is best suited to a particular product, the majority of our goods are made from French calfskin. Calfskin has a finer grain and softer feel than traditional cowhide as the younger age of the animal brings less exposure to the harsh elements, the main cause of imperfection. French calfskin in particular is considered the finest in the world due to the fact that farms in France do not use barbed wire, one of the leading causes of mars and scratches. As no two skins are completely alike, each and every handcrafted leather Ghurka product will have an individual character that adds to its unique patina as it ages.

  • 2

    Tanning and Coloring

    learn more

  • Tanning and Coloring

    All Ghurka leather is vegetable-tanned, a centuries-old process which uses only naturally occurring tannins to treat the hides. Because only natural elements are used, it is not only the most environmentally responsible process for tanning, it is also the most gentle on the hides, allowing the skin to retain its tight fiber structure resulting in better wear over time. Vegetable tanning is a costly, labor-intensive process. Our pebbled hides are slow tanned, soaking in large drums with their tanning solution for no less than 30 days, which is the only method that is able to deliver the durability, feel, and eventual patina for which Ghurka products are so well known.

  • 3

    The Art of Stitching

    learn more

  • The Art of Stitching

    We use an extra-thick spun nylon that should never snap or fray, and all of our craftsmen ensure that each and every piece is stitched to our exacting standards. A careful review of any two parts of a Ghurka leather luggage piece will reveal exactly the same number of stitches per inch, a requirement for anything that leaves our workshop. The placement of these stitches is equally exact, precisely laid out to the millimeter to ensure that every bit of leather is assembled to last a lifetime.

  • 4

    Ghurka Hardware

    learn more

  • Ghurka Hardware

    Brass is the only metal we've found that offers the strength, durability, and reliability that have become our hallmark. Every single piece of our hardware - from zippers, buckles, and hooks to the smallest of snaps and rivets are made solely from this rugged and beautiful material. A great deal of time and expense has been invested in perfecting our brass zippers. Every single tooth is individually machined and polished to ensure flawless operation after years of continuous use. And since all of our leather briefcase and leather travel bag hardware is solid brass and never plated, it too will develop a unique character and patina as it ages alongside our famous leather.