Interview by Lucas Pantoja
What happens when the highest luxury of fine leather goods connects with the minimalist design perspective of an architect?
Well, you could imagine the aesthetics would be sleek, sophisticated, and in some ways mathematical — like the products of Milanese luxury brand Valextra.
Founded in 1937 by Giovanni Fontana, Valextra is a true fashion insider brand. With quality materials of the highest caliber and a minimalist approach to design — the brand is an elegant example of less is more.
Unlike other luxury bag companies, Valextra goods don’t feature an obvious logo on the outside, but for those in the know the products are easily recognizable by their particular design features and superb quality.
In other words: the brand doesn’t need to rely on obvious logos to be recognizable, the products can be recognized by their build alone.
Currently the brand is run by CEO Sara Ferrero. Sara began her career with Valextra back in 2015, but has spent time previously working with other luxury fashion companies as director of general accessories for Furla and as CEO of London based brand Joseph.
We at TFP were able to get an interview in with Sara just after finishing up Milan Fashion Week:
Lucas: What separates the Valextra brand from other luxury bag houses?
SF: What makes Valextra unique is its approach to creativity. Valextra is a luxury brand specializing in handcrafted leather good products inspired by the world of design and architecture.
Our approach to creativity and production resembles that of a modernist building: essential, minimal and graphic. Valextra’s understated attitude focuses on pure lines highlighted by the Costa construction rigorously lacquered in black to emphasis its geometry.
No logo can be found on the external product but its unique number and Valextra logo is embossed inside where the richness of details and materials are always at the service of functionality. Innovation linked to craftsmanship has always been at the center of our production process, using the latest techniques and most precious materials.
Lucas: The brand frequently collaborates with renowned artists and creatives. What is your process in finding collaborators and what sort of qualities do you look for when deciding who to work with?
SF: Valextra collaborates with a close international community of architects and designers creating unique stores around the world and one-of-a-kind townhouses. Places where to encounter the brand and experience its values more than a shopping mecca. The collaboration may extend to a product, such as the SS18 Toothpaste collection developed in collaboration with British designer Laura Bethan Wood.
Many collections have been heavily influenced by designers of the past such as the SS17 Superbag collection, inspired by the Superbox of Ettore Sottsass or by the collaborations with some of the architects we have done for stores such as the Fuzzy collection presented in AW18, the derivation of the Snarkitecture’s Monocrome installation in the Milano flagship store, or our latest AW18 Enchanted Forest Collection inspired by Kengo Kuma currently installed in Milan.
The choice of the designers happens very organically, from a reciprocal love of each other’s work and the sharing of the same values. It also requires a good dose of personal chemistry.
Lucas: In your opinion, what is the key ingredient to quality design?
SF: Beauty and functionality mixed with a good dose of original creative thinking. Proportions, purity of lines and great mix of materials.
Lucas: Are there any particular markets which the brand is aiming to expand in?
SF: Valextra aims to reach the international customer, cultured and well-traveled, lover of beautiful things. This customer is today an international citizen despite their country of origin. Often he/she lives in different parts of the world and travels in all the biggest cities. Beyond Italians, Japanese have been the first to embrace Valextra’s philosophy, followed by Korean and now we are enjoying a great response from Chinese customers.
In the last year, Middle Easterners are also getting closer to the brand and we are planning to open a store in Dubai soon. We can’t forget the USA, where Valextra has been since the early 2000’s and is present today in NY, Miami, and in the best specialty stores across the country.