A bag is forever: luxury discovers the value of durability

Bottega Veneta focuses on ‘products that are used for longer, to reduce the number of replacements and lower our environmental impact. And it is not the only brand to ‘make sense of time’ and strategically bet on the value of durability. A value that finds in leather its most excellent means of expression


‘A lover is for little, and a diamond is forever’, wrote Marcello Marchesi in 1971 in ‘Il Malloppo’. The second part of the sentence then became the lucky slogan that accompanied the advertising campaign of De Beers, a leading high jewellery company, for decades. But some of today’s extra-luxury brands could easily apply the same slogan to a handbag, a pair of shoes, or an armchair. All the more so today, with consumers increasingly sensitive to the issue of sustainability. Here, then, one of the criteria for measuring the value of a product is (increasingly and also) how it expresses the value of durability. And what can guarantee this if not, in the first instance, leather?

The value of durability

The concept is also clear to the European Commission, which is proposing to amend the Consumer Rights Directive to oblige companies to provide information on the durability and repairability of products. Consumers also agree, at least those in the US. In a recent survey commissioned by FDRA (Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America), durability was found to be the most important characteristic expected of a ‘sustainable’ shoe.

A bag is forever

Luxury brands agree, repeating how the durability of an accessory and its repairability is a guarantee of a high-quality product. For example, one of these is Bottega Veneta. The Kering Group label has fully embraced this concept and turned it into a precise business line. Code name of the initiative: Bottega Series. Translation: reissue timeless leather models from its past collections.

Bottega Series

Bottega Series bags are sold at full price to reflect their lasting value. “We want our products to be used for longer, to reduce the number of replacements and decrease our environmental impact,” says Maison’s CEO, Leo Rongone, at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen (source Vogue Business). Bottega Veneta is also re-evaluating its design process, focusing on durability, craftsmanship, and creativity, in line with the thinking of its creative director, Matthieu Blazy. “Mine are not revolutionary garments. They are pragmatic and sensible: to be used a lot.” (source: La Repubblica). Objective: to focus on high-quality products to be sold with a lifetime guarantee.

The time it takes

Bottega Veneta focuses on creating objects that last forever. This presupposes timeless design and timeless production to create an object of unassailable quality, delaying obsolescence as much as possible. This is what most distinguishes the production of luxury goods from those destined for the mass market. Axel Dumas, CEO of Hermès, knows something about this. “It takes 15 hours to make a Hermès bag,’ he says. ‘Even if there is a lot of demand, I’m not going to start making it in 15 hours to increase production. In fact, to engage in a production booster, the Parisian fashion house is not speeding up the timetable of making his bags: it inaugurates workshops in a flurry where he produces them, taking as much time as it takes.

A good-for-everyone equation

The equation ‘durability = sustainability‘ is not only spoken by big luxury brands for whom it might be all too easy but also by emerging designers. Anousjka Röben and Naomi Hille, founders of Skua Studio, a Dutch brand of ‘sustainable footwear’, chose leather, a by-product of the food industry, ‘because it guarantees a guarantee of durability‘. Alessandra Balbi, who has a degree in architecture and one in economics, says that “producing quality, timeless footwear that lasts is already a good start for sustainability”.

Not just bags, always leather

Mascheroni‘s philosophy has always remained true to two points: quality and time. It takes two months to produce the Prior desk. That is why annual production is 10 pieces per year‘. Words from Silvio Mascheroni, communications manager and art director of the company chosen by LVMH’s Bernard Arnault to furnish his office. ‘When a customer who bought a leather sofa 20 years ago asks us to reupholster the cushions because he doesn’t want to change it, this is the true meaning of sustainability,‘ he concludes. More straightforward than that… (mv)

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