Introducing Fernweh UK – where craftsmanship, adventure, and Scotland’s rugged landscapes converge. Join us in this blog post to discover the essence of this small yet extraordinary fashion accessories brand, helmed by founder Laura Sherriffs. Explore the brand’s origin story, sustainable ethos, and the creative process that breathes life into each handcrafted piece. Experience the fusion of artistry and nature in every design.

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Meet the Maker:

Interview with Laura Sherriffs.

Introducing Fernweh UK – where craftsmanship, adventure, and Scotland’s rugged landscapes converge. Join us in this blog post to discover the essence of this small yet extraordinary fashion accessories brand, helmed by founder Laura Sherriffs. Explore the brand’s origin story, sustainable ethos, and the creative process that breathes life into each handcrafted piece. Experience the fusion of artistry and nature in every design.

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Tell us a little bit about your work…


Fernweh UK is a small, slow fashion accessories brand, creating handcrafted luxury waxed canvas and leather bags and accessories, inspired by a passion for adventure and the rugged landscapes of Scotland. Each bag is handcrafted by myself (founder Laura Sherriffs) and my small team in the Fernweh studio in Aberdeen, with a focus on creating the best products possible, whilst minimising waste, repurposing offcuts, and operating with a sustainable ethos at the heart of the brand.

How did it all start?


Fernweh began in 2014, after I graduated the previous year with a degree in Fashion Design from Grays School of Art. After graduating, I was unsure where my path lay, and in the meantime fell in love with rock climbing while working in Aberdeen. A keen hiker already, I loved everything about climbing, and eventually began to miss the creativity that came with my university course. 

I’ve always loved making and creating with my hands and decided I would make myself a chalk bag to take climbing with me. Chalk bags are small bags that attach to a climbing harness, allowing you to carry chalk up the wall with you. Chalk stops your hands slipping and provides more grip. Many chalk bags at the time were just made from cheap polyester.

I’d been fascinated by waxed cotton for a while at this point; it’s a durable cloth with strong links to Scottish heritage, and during my studies, I interned in London, and used to trawl through the rails of vintage Barbour jackets on the weekends. It’s also used in a lot of traditional outdoor gear, and in looking for a reason to use it, I decided this was what I wanted my chalk bag to be made from.

I made my first waxed cotton chalk bag, then had some requests from friends at the climbing wall. I found joy in the art of making the bags, and decided to set up a small online shop, and things grew arms and legs from there, quickly moving to make tote bags, hats and other waxed cotton accessories.


The story behind the name


Fernweh is actually one of those beautiful German words that have no direct English translation, but loosely translates to a feeling of farsickness, a general yearning for far-off places, and a craving for travel. A yearning to explore off the beaten path, into the unknown. When I started Fernweh, I stumbled across this word and it totally encapsulated how I was feeling at the time, looking to explore and travel. It also felt fitting for a brand that made accessories inspired by the outdoors.

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What inspires you?


My work is inspired by the wild, rugged landscapes of Scotland, particularly the Cairngorms and the North East coastline, as I feel it’s such an incredible part of Scotland. Our colour palettes reflect the rich shades found in nature throughout the seasons. Strong yet subtle hues of greens from the hills and forests, blues and greys reflecting the rocky cliffs or the shimmering of a loch to more warmer rusty tones to reflect the bracken turning in the autumn. Colour is a significant part of our work, and I use it to tell the story of the Scottish landscape, meaning someone can take a piece of this beautiful scenery with them wherever they go.

I’m also really inspired by traditional mountaineering equipment, those old leather boots that would last a thousand miles, vintage, well-worn waxed backpacks; these items have so much character and stories in them, which is something I strive for in my own work.

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What is your creation process?  


A lot of the time, it happens quite organically. Sometimes I’ll have an idea of a stitch technique I’d like to try, and then ideas form from it, or I’ll see some colours together on a hike that I think work really well together. Sometimes a product appears just because it’s something I want to make! I like my products to be multipurpose and functional alongside telling this story, so I ensure there’s a bit of utility in there too. Once I have an initial idea, we pattern cut a sample mock-up to get an idea of the 3D object, and then tweak any changes that are needed, decide on hardware and finishing. After that, it goes into being produced in our signature waxed cotton, and after a bit of product testing, it gets added to our range.


What Makes you, your brand, or products unique?


I would say that what sets Fernweh apart is our commitment to creating the best bags possible for our customers, and focusing on using the best materials that we can. As a maker, I’m always learning, refining my own skills, which then refines each product, the materials we use, etc. I think every year our bags get even better, adding details to make sure our bags can last a lifetime. Making each bag in-house means we can control the quality, ensure there is no waste created – and what waste we do create we use up. Creating all our work in-house also keeps developing craft and manufacturing skills in the area as Fernweh grows.

What is your next project?


I’m delighted to have worked with some phenomenal businesses over the last few years on collaborative ranges, including the Glenfiddich Distillery, the Scottish Textiles Showcase in Edinburgh, Iona Wool, and the Fife Arms. I really love working collaboratively, and it’s been so incredible working with these huge brands and creating products for them. Also, having a piece featured in the Christmas Country Living Gift Guide last year was incredibly special too.

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What is your best-selling product/line?


My “Finnoch” field bag is probably my biggest selling line – and one of my favourites to make! A crossbody bag with a deceptive amount of room – and pockets! – and a slim adjustable leather strap, it’s the perfect bag for taking day to day, or even for taking a pair of binoculars and a small sketchbook on a hike.

What do you love about the Country Living Christmas Fairs?


I’ve never visited yet! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about the Christmas Fairs though, and it’s been on my bucket list for so long, so I’m incredibly excited to take part in Glasgow this year.

More information on Fernweh can be found here.


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Important Announcement

We are delighted to announce that the management of the Country Living Christmas Fair is transitioning back to Hearst UK, owners of the Country Living Brand. For 2024, Country Living are partnering with iconic sister brand, Good Housekeeping, to bring a fabulous new and enriched festive experience to the London Christmas Fair. Good Housekeeping is the UK’s biggest lifestyle magazine brand for women and in 2022 launched its own, annual Christmas weekend festival, Good Housekeeping Live.

Good Housekeeping Live with the Country Living Christmas Market will take place at the Business Design Centre from 13th – 16th November 2024.

The Glasgow and Harrogate Country Living Fairs will be paused for 2024.

For more information on Country Living Events for 2024, please contact Ellie Craig, Artisan Growth Manager at [email protected]