Mass customisation is on the rise. But it’s nothing new. For a couple of hundred years bespoke tailors and shoe makers have been plying their wares in the so called “Carriage Trade”.
Today’s fashion consumers are looking for greater degrees of personalisation than merely the ability to add a monogram of their initials. Nike, Adidas and RayBan are proving in the mass market that the ability to mix your own combination of colours and options is highly appealing to a broad swathe of their customers.
In the luxury market there are still only a handful of brands beginning to innovate. Late last year Salvatore Ferragamo the legendary Italian shoe maker introduced a MTO (made to order) programme for their classic men’s Driver loafers. The initiative has been highly successful and Ferragamo are considering extending the concept to other parts of their product line up.
In the small leather goods and accessories field Bianca Mosca which specialises in bespoke alligator wallets, card holders, Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases offers a full custom service on its website. Customers can choose leather colours, stitching types as well as having their initials embossed on their product. The finished product is made in their workshop in France and delivered around the world inside 28 days.
“The key thing is service and listening closely to your customers to ensure that you’re delivering what they want-not what you think they want,” said Tim de Rosen from Bianca Mosca.
Well I know what I want and given the choice I’d love to have a stab at designing my own shoes or wallet.
When you want to travel light or avoid an ugly bulge in your jacket or hip pocket the card holder is the ideal way to transport your credit cards and cash for a night out or a business dinner.
Card holders normally store either four or six cards and have a center pocket that is stitched closed or in some cases left open on one side. The best one’s in my view are the simplest designs that rely upon top grade materials and craftsmanship to justify their place in your wardrobe.
Here is my selection:
Louis Vuitton-Their simple yet chic card holder in Epi leather slips easily into a pocket. It holds credit cards, transport cards or business cards in its three slots.
Tom Ford-Alligator skin credit card holder with internal lining in calf leather. Easy on the eye square shape, elegant and fashionable.
Bottega Veneta-Made from beautiful, hand-crafted intrecciato leather, this compact case is perfect for carrying cards or bills. With slender and elegant lines, the design comes with 1 main compartment and 6 credit card slots.
Bianca Mosca– Classic slim cardholder perfect for storing credit and business cards. 3 credit card slots on each side and a middle slip pocket for receipts and tickets. Shown here in Havana Brown matte alligator with a Dark Brown goatskin interior and Sky Blue contrast stitching. Handmade in France. Fully customisable online
Valextra-Grained calfskin leather credit card holder detailed with six card slots and Valextra’s ‘costa’ laquered piping.
A new study conducted by Bianca Mosca, known for its ultra luxury bags and accessories made from Louisiana alligator, reveals that so called “Man Bags” including totes, duffels, clutches, backpacks, messenger and bowling bags now represent one in five of all sales in the global $35 billion luxury handbag market.
Despite the reported slowdown in China and recent setbacks in the global luxury market the 2016 outlook for luxury men’s bags has never been brighter.
According to Bianca Mosca’s estimate the aggregate value of men’s bag sales by value has more than doubled in the last decade with men now spending over $7 billion a year on luxury bags.
Yet whilst volumes have been growing at 5% per annum the amount spent per unit has been climbing by 10% a year leading to the conclusion that men are spending substantially more on each bag they are purchasing.
The study goes on to forecast that global expenditure on men’s luxury bags will rise to $10 billion by 2020 with just under 9 million units sold.
A Bianca Mosca spokesperson said:
“A major part of the rise can be explained by the growth in the numbers of metrosexual men who are becoming more comfortable carrying handbags that are quite unlike the briefcases of yesteryear and are willing to spend serious sums of money to acquire a fashionable accessory”
A further factor impacting the prices of luxury bags is the pressure on raw material costs particularly for the type of premium exotic leathers used by Bianca Mosca. The price of first grade unblemished Louisiana alligator skins has increased by 12% a year for the past three years and is forecast to continue growing as demand for exotic materials continues to outstrip demand at the top end of the luxury market.
Bianca Mosca which this year is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding in 1946, will be launching a new range of men’s handbags, briefcases, weekend bags and clutches in Spring ‘16.
There’s something about the debut of a New Year that calls out for refreshing one’s wardrobe and accessories.
When it comes to wallets and cardholders there is a bewildering array of possibilities from the everyday leather and canvas up to exotic skins such as alligator and python.
Moti Ankari my colleague at Bloomberg Pursuits has come up with a great selection including iPhone Cases cases that double as wallets.
You can read his post here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-01-06/best-wallets-for-men-bi-folds-to-money-clips-to-iphone-hybrids
This is a question I’m often asked and it’s always difficult to give a simple answer. As usual I turn to the expert in these matters, namely Tim de Rosen from Bianca Mosca that makes probably the best alligator bags and accessories in the market.
The first criterion is selecting appropriate skins from the tannery. This has become extremely challenging of late as the demand for prime grade unblemished skins has soared on demand from the major fashion houses who are increasing the proportion of exotic skins used in their high fashion collections.
In order to counter this problem groups such as LVMH and Hermes have bought their own tanneries in order to “lock in” the best availability of skins.
As a result the prices of larger and perfect skins (i.e. more than 30cm in width) is increasing by 10% a year, piling the pressure on retail prices. Of course it’s possible to buy products made from the skins rejected by the major players but they will never be as appealing or tactile as those made from prime skins.
Dyeing and Processing
This is the most critical aspect of turning the tanned “crust” into a useable skin for making finished items.
“Skins are solid dyed, before a pigment-based surface treatment is applied to highlight the beauty of the material. Working on skins involves an alchemy that evolves constantly thanks to the innovations introduced by the Manufacture. This total control of production makes it possible to meet requests for customised items” says de Rosen of Bianca Mosca.
Quality control systems involve numerous laboratory tests on products to check their resistance to rubbing, UV rays, pulling and twisting, as well as their hypoallergenic qualities. All of this adds to the expense of producing the best products.
Making products from alligator is a time consuming and labor intensive activity. It takes many years of specialised training to attain the required levels of proficiency to make even a seemingly simple article such as a credit card holder.
Constructing alligator leather products is a very different endeavour than making products from cow leather and special tools and routines need to be employed in order to work the skins effectively and to ensure a fine result.
Bag making is altogether a higher art form and requires not just experience but also sensitivity for form and function as each piece is made over many hours entirely by hand from a paper pattern.
In France and Italy where the best workshops are located salaries and social costs are very high adding a large part to the costs of making these high quality products.
Durability and Longevity
There is no material that compares to Louisiana alligator leather. It has strength, durability and resistance to moisture, heat and light whilst also managing to be extraordinary supple and soft to the touch.
Over time alligator matures as it’s used and acquires a unique patina.
With proper care it should last a lifetime helping to underpin the relatively high price paid at the outset.
With Santa spinning his wheels for his 2015 World Tour our attention turns to what might turn up at the foot of the bed come Xmas Day.
Here are a few modest trinkets that would be most welcome in my stocking this year.
1.Michel Cluizel Dark Chocolate 85%. My favorite chocolate from the famed Parisien chocolatier.
2. Jacques Selosse “Substance” Champagne. A very unusual and rare Solera-style wine. 97 points WA.
3. Bianca Mosca wallet in alligator with a goatskin lining. Delectable and butter smooth handmade perfection.
4. Elie Bleu fountain pen orange sycamore. Part of the fruit wood collection.
5. Connor NYC stationery. Superlative hand-engraved stationery.
6. Brora Trilby. In wool and leather. Also in navy.
7. Thorsun Fan swim trunks. Perfect for New Year in St. Barts
8. Rose Bespoke Tie. Screen-printed motifs, crests and inscriptions of your choice.
9. Bresciani cotton socks. Sublime comfort and Italian style.
10. Derek Rose silk pajamas. Seductive and elegant.