The luxury handbag business (like many businesses) is changing. Venerable brands are looking for ways to modernize the attractiveness of their products. Meanwhile, new players are entering the game taking advantage of the changes in the way leather products are manufactured and distributed.
Additionally, e-commerce continues to conquer the retail landscape and marketing has changed with the explosive growth of social media. On the women’s side of this market, there are telltale signs that handbags are no longer the go-to accessory, especially among younger buyers.
This has not stopped newcomers from entering the market, nor has it diminished the dynamism of more established companies. Below are five handbag and luggage companies that are working hard to get their share of this evolving market.
Montblanc Esprit Urbain collection
The German luxury brand with a leather goods factory just outside Florence, Italy, is almost as well known for its men’s leather products as it is for its writing instruments. Its new collection of leather goods (22 pieces in total) presents an urban sophistication with clean designs and “smart” storage solutions.
The look is certainly contemporary with clean lines and simple shapes. The most dynamic change in the appearance of the larger bags is the inclusion of two logos. The six-sided Montblanc star and the minimalist Urban Spirit metallic border. On the small Urban Spirit leather accessories, the edge completely replaces the Montblanc star logo. In the world of Montblanc, this is a great evolution since its flagship logo has appeared on all its products since 1913.
Black Italian leather, which is made from an innovative new leather exclusive to the Montblanc leather goods representative, recently explained the look to me. It has a matte finish which is soft to the touch with a slightly waxy feel.
But it’s more than the look that makes this collection a little different from traditional Montblanc offerings. The company claims that these bags and accessories offer better functionality and versatility as well as advanced safety enhancements. It includes the “Montblanc Shield”, a special lining added in the interior zippered pocket of the leather bags to increase protection against unauthorized reading, copying and tampering of personal data contained in the chips embedded in credit cards and passports.
The collection will be available on September 1.
This Swiss handbag company opened its virtual doors in May and could serve as a window into how handbags are produced and sold in the future. The company is founded by Karen-Maria Olivo, a luxury industry veteran who I know as a public relations representative for luxury jewelry companies.
These are women’s handbags (although a men’s product is coming) that are sold online exclusively through the company’s website. Customers can choose the color pattern of the bags based on a predetermined palette which will change at least twice a year. Olivo says this ensures the colors are as unique as possible.
Another key factor is that each bag is handcrafted to order in the company’s workshop in Casablanca, Morocco. It doesn’t take more than six weeks for a customer to receive her bag, says Olivo.
The company takes full advantage of the efficiency of international supply and manufacturing chains to produce the bags using sustainable practices throughout the process, right down to the packaging in which the products are shipped, Olivo explains. She is determined to make the process as open to the public as possible. Let’s face it, traditional leather tanning is a harmful process for the environment.
The leather used for the bags and accessories is “Bull Pony premium grade” leather from the French Basque Country. The leathers are mineral tanned and vegetable retanning. The colors are drum-dyed from a tannery whose processes are sustainable. Olivo will not reveal the plant for competition reasons.
The inner lining is made in Italy from a structured cotton fabric with a waterproof acrylic resin finish. The golden metallic thread is produced in Germany. The metal fittings come from Switzerland.
In another bit of personalization, customers can select their own four-digit lucky number. It appears with the LUC8K logo and the person’s main airport four-digit baggage barcode padded inside each bag with gold metallic thread.
The prices for bags and accessories range from approximately $ 425 to $ 2,100.
The brand even has a mascot, Sophie, a 15ft tall giraffe who travels the world with her LUC8K bags showing off her style, having fun and pontificating about durability and other issues.
This Italian leather house outside Florence (likely next door to the Montblanc leather factory) produces a full line of business and travel items that combine Italian flair with technological sensibility. These are handcrafted leather products specially designed to safely transport technological devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, SIM cards and USB sticks.
The company was founded in 1987 by Marco Palmieri, then a 22-year-old engineering student, who saw an opportunity in technology-oriented leather goods. The company has grown into a network of 100 stores and is listed on the Italian Stock Exchange. It just opened its first branded store in the United States at 509 Madison Avenue.
All the materials for the bags are sourced from Italy, with the skins mainly sourced from the tannery district in Tuscany.
In September 2011, the company launched Sartoria, which allows customers to customize products to order through the company’s website. Customers can choose from the available leathers and alternative colors, metallic finishes, colors for the internal lining and even thread for the seams. The product is sent directly to the customer’s home with a certificate bearing the name of the craftsman who made it.
François-Joseph Graf is a Parisian architect, interior designer and decorator specializing in large-scale classic French themes for private residences, hotels, restaurants, art galleries and antique shops. He even created event spaces for a French luxury brand,
He also creates fabrics, furniture and personal fashion accessories for his affluent clientele. Many items are sold exclusively in his showroom at 3 avenue Montaigne, one of the city’s most famous luxury shopping streets. The interior of the showroom with dark woods and brown patterned rugs contrasts with the brightly colored red and purple walls.
While the showroom offers other products, it focuses on Graf’s collection of leather and embroidered handbags and pouches, based on contemporary designs and international themes (especially Asian and African). He creates the designs, selects leather and other materials, and commissions the artisans.
The results are artistic, colorful, daring and fun; but still refined and luxurious. Different types of leathers (including calfskin, goatskin, and crocodile) are used in combination with other materials (including silk, eggshell, and crystal), giving each bag or pouch its own unique personality. . He likes to layer either by embroidery or by layering the leather itself.
Cavelier de La Salle
An all-American luxury bag for men is named after French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who traveled from the Great Lakes region along the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, naming the Basin of Louisiana after its king, Louis XIV.
The new brand of luggage is based in New Orleans and New York. It specializes in alligator leather bags for men. All pieces are handmade by a single craftsman working under the supervision of fourth generation craftsmen, says Wendell Figueroa Ruiz, a former jewelry and watchmaking public relations representative who recently invested in the company. (there are two other partners). The brand maintains close relationships with local hunters and tanneries, which he says ensures the high quality of the materials.
The company produces custom parts and ready-to-buy items through its website. The business is so new that the website has yet to go live.