I write this in a very happy mood. I have found a hero for the week, perhaps longer. I have regularly argued on these pages, in the print magazine and elsewhere, that what the leather industry has built its reputation on, and can thrive on in the future, is lasting high quality; and that neither a rush to fast fashion nor solely chasing luxury is the correct route for most tanners. Well, I found Anders Ojgaard, a Dane living in Valencia, via the weekend newspapers.
He turned up in the midst of an article about investing for the long term in expensive handbags, and by investing it meant not using them but hiding them away in the hope the value would rise. Ojgaard essentially told such investors to go back to gold. “We believe that investing in luxury brand bags will yield negative returns going forward”. He says that there is a move to “honest luxury” and the article defines this as “an emphasis on quality rather than a preoccupation with branding”.
Luxury does exist, and is unimportant, but for me it properly exists as representing something rare, exquisite, especially when involving great expense and not just a heavily promoted brand name. By definition, the volumes will be limited and the tanning industry needs to find other, larger segments, to succeed. This is where well-made quality comes in and, again, I find myself admiring Ojgaard. He runs a market place and online magazine called Waremakers. Examining the product choices being made by his team will take some time but his approach is well worth stating, He describes what they are looking for on the front page of his website:
Local: Producers that make their things locally, and not on the other side of the planet, make much better products.
Handmade: Human hands produce the finest quality and give soul to the items we use in our lives.
Understated: Beauty is created when form follows function – refinement lies in simplicity.
Quality: The virtues of skillfully crafted objects affect their users – using quality makes us feel of quality.
Anders Ojgaard is quoted in the article that “conspicuous consumption is becoming less and less appealing”. This is something we are seeing throughout the world. Spending a little more to buy articles that offer good, long-lasting quality appears to be a solid trend, and one that will serve the leather industry well.
23rd November 2016
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1. Handbags hold a rare attraction for investors, Hugo Greenhalgh, Financial Times FTMoney p13 19Nov2016