INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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A Conversation Between Luxe.CO and Valextra CEO: We Often Overlook the Fact That a Brand is a "Person"

June 15,2020

At the “Luxe.CO Global Forum on the Cloud 2020” on May 23, Alicia Yu, Founder & CEO of Luxe.CO and President of Orange Bay University, spoke to Sara Ferrero, CEO of luxury Italian handbag brand Valextra, about her recent experience in running the business in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

"We really didn’t feel like talking about products at this moment when everyone is closed. So we’re trying to think about what we really want to share. In the end, we decided to share a little bit from an optimistic point of view, and also convey a sense of unity." Sara said, "End products are important, but so are processes and methods, accountability and sustainability. Now is a great time to think about these issues."

During the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, Sara hosted #EXTRABRIGHT & #EXTRAMILANO, a digital project that connected with many of the world's top creative people on Instagram.

"Valextra tries to stay emotionally connected and enlighten each other through fragments of our friends' lives."

British furniture designer Tom Dixon, Italian furniture designer Martino Gamper, Italian designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, British designer Bethan Laura Wood, architect Luciano Giorgi, photographer Marco Pietracupa, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, Chinese designer MASHAMA, Italian film director Luca Guadagnino, J.J. Martin, founder of fashion brand La DoubleJ, and others were invited to chat with Sara online.

"Why do we have all these amazing guests? Because they are good friends of the brands’ creative community and share similar values... they won't join us if they don't resonate. It's not about money, we're not paying for it." Sarah adds, “We sometimes forget that the brands are “persons”. We are people, and consumers are people too. Brands have conversations with consumers, just like I'm having a conversation with you here today. We can't seduce everyone... So, there is a sense of creating a friendship with people that are similar to you. This is what we tried honestly to do. We share our values.”

Who is Valextra and what is Valextra about?

From the perspective of a company manager, Sara further shared her understanding of the brand and her ideas on how to convey brand spirit.

"Every brand has an emotional component. Anyone is attracted to a brand because there is something in the brand's values that resonates... but there must be a mix of reasons. The process of consumers' shopping behavior includes sensibility and rationality. When people buy an expensive item, they need to feel close to the brand, as it represents them or the way they want to look. In fact, a bag is a symbol that represents status, power, wealth, personality, and so on."

"Even if there is a lot of resonance in value, consumers will not pay without the right style. This brings us to another set of factors, which is what we often call price, quality, workmanship, and durability. The product should be beautiful, practical, and durable, because it should accompany customers for a long time. A lot of people say our bags are expensive, but from a purely financial point of view, they're a high-return fashion item... Because one can use a bag every day. It is not like clothes that need to be changed every day, and it is not limited by the change of my figure."

"We put all our heart, soul, and money into bags and leather goods. In terms of marketing, we cannot and do not want to compare with the big brands, because the budget is completely different. Our breakthrough point is to create an impressive product with high quality, fine craftsmanship, and unique appearance. We can't please everyone, so we focus on specific products. I think a lot of powerful women choose Valextra because the brand represents themselves, not because they want to show off."

"A lot of TV shows choose Valextra, maybe because we are a little bit different. Other people don't understand why we talk so much about design. It is about being part of a company made by people. We are a small team, and we feel this is how we want to present ourselves: to give our souls to the bags, to the products. And we try to be honest, this is the main point. And as celebrities, TV shows, and KOLs have a bigger fan base, it's undeniably helpful."

Valextra has entered the China market, with five stores currently in mainland China and two in Hong Kong, as well as e-commerce channels.

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