Mark Cross is a renowned luxury brand that designs and manufactures distinctive leather handbags that routinely sell out season after season. The company is more than a century old and its history has all the trappings of a movie-like saga: a story that starts with riches, transitions to rags, and ends with a glorious resurrection. Throughout its history, Mark Cross has been a favorite of celebrity clients- including pop stars and even princesses. Today, Mark Cross is steadily becoming the go-to brand for in-the-know street-style icons such as Harley Viera-Newton, Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung and Suki Waterhouse to name a few. Find out more about the company's history and why it stands out among other leather handbag brands below:
A Look at Mark Cross's Rich History
Mark Cross was established in Boston in 1845 by Henry Cross. The company initially started as a saddlery center which was named it after Henry's son, Mark. Henry was an Irish immigrant, and he did not expect his company to grow so dramatically over such a short period of time. Cross founded his company with a simple mission: he wanted to create the finest leather goods for horses and their buggy riders. However, it didn't take long for the company to start manufacturing cigar cases, harnesses, and ultimately handbags. Due to the company's initial focus on equestrian leather goods Mark Cross' success in the fashion world in particular came as a huge surprise.
When Patrick Murphy acquired the company, the fashion house became known simply as Mark Cross. The acquisition took place after the namesake’s death. Patrick went on to open new shops in London and New York. This expansion opened access to luxuries that were still unknown to the American market, e.g. crystals, china ware, and other delights from abroad.
Gerald Murphy, who was Patrick’s son, moved to Paris, France with his wife (Sara). The couple then decided to set up house in Villa America. It was there that they entertained many celebrated characters of the Lost Generation: the Fitzgeralds, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway.
Although Mark Cross's resources were depleted in the Great Depression of 1929, they did not let their resolve waver a single bit. When the Murphys returned to America, they extended the brand to include handbags, cigar holders, and wallets. These products were also made with the finest Italian leather.
After taking over the Mark Cross brand, Gerald proceeded to expand the company's offerings to include jeweled evening bags, cigarette cases, and luggage. He also collaborated with Seamen Schepps on certain projects. A Mark Cross overnight bag was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary film "Rear Window." It was the case that Grace Kelly used to pack her clothing.
Next, their frequent collaborations with jeweler Seaman Schepps helped to solidify their position in the fashion world. Thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's iconic film, one of Mark Cross's travelling case design helped the brand remain relevant for the next three decades. It also helped sparked the rage for the brand’s best-selling range: Grace.
The company was eventually sold to another party. But Gerald stayed on as president until his official retirement in 1955. Mark Cross continued to flourish under the new ownership. In 1961, it changed hands again. However, it closed its doors in the 1990s.
Mark Cross was resurrected in 2011. Today, it produces pieces in the same factories in Italy, along with its celebrated originals. The aesthetic of their latest collections was inspired by the vintage archives, the brand’s rich heritage, and their dedication to fine craftsmanship. The company utilized its expertise to translate older designs into a modern vision. With that in mind, Mark Cross is one of those brands that is devoid of excess logos and hardware.
The Grace Range
Mark Cross is now synonymous with the Grace range. The brand's Spring 2017 lookbook featured a Grace Mini Box that showcased the colors: butterscotch, raspberry pink, lilac, and various shades of yellow. Other products included a Grace Small Box and a Grace Large Box. The latter even featured 18K gold-plated brass. Mark Cross made it a point to craft these boxes from exquisite crocodile, lamb, and calf leather. It is of note that these pieces were made in the same Italian factory that the founders favored all those decades ago.