Agreed it is too late for a nativity story, so let’s put this under sustainability? This original Omersa donkey was most likely sold out of either Liberty’s of London or New York’s Abercrombie & Fitch in the 1960s. The story of their designer Dimitri Omersa and how these leather animals came into being has always fascinated us and seems all the more relevant today as it was a fine example of a zero-waste philosophy.

Dimitri and his wife Inge arrived in England in 1955, fleeing Tito’s Yugoslavia (at a time when England still welcomed refugees, sadly unlike now). On arriving in England Dimitri entered the leather trade and while representing a small leather company in Hitchin, met a leather goods designer at Liberty’s of London known as ‘Old Bill’.

According to the Omersa website, it seems that the first pig came into being almost by accident when ‘Old Bill’, who worked for Liberty’s of London making hand luggage from pigskin, experimented with leather leftovers. He came up with the idea of a stuffed leather pig footstool which was sold through Liberty’s in 1927 and became an instant success.

‘Old Bill’ was due to retire and a deal was struck for Dimitri Omersa to take over the business and continue the supply of pigs to Liberty’s. Before long Omersa began work on other animals, first an elephant, followed by a donkey and rhinoceros, and sold exclusively in the UK through Liberty’s and in New York by Abercrombie & Fitch.

In the 1960s Dimitri took his menagerie of leather goods to the United States; in 1963 he won a Gold medal at the Californian State Fair for the donkey design shown here which has become a much sought after piece.

This little fella has been with us since we opened the Showroom some 15 years ago, for a one-eyed leather donkey he has seen a lot. Now he is looking for a new home, please note that an intricate NDA is in place so he can not tell you any stories about his time with us! Find him here»