Italian accessories brands have a long-term love affair with logos and hardware – and then there’s Valextra. The luxury leather creations by this 80-year-old label are instead marked by their apparently simple shapes and perfect precision construction. “The methods at our factory in Milan have hardly changed since the company was founded,” says CEO Sara Ferrero, adding that each item is handmade by a craftsman whose identifying number is embossed inside the bag.
But while Valextra is the epitome of pared-back chic, often in the house palette of almost-white “pergamena”, the brand also has a more colourful side – something that comes out in its custom creations. On request, its existing styles can be recreated in non-standard colourways or exotic skins (adding around 30 per cent to the off-the-shelf price), while entirely bespoke versions are made first in trial form “to prove that the design works properly”, says Ferrero. “Sometimes people want so many pockets that the bag would be too heavy to be practical, but function is as important to us as form.”
The bespoke pieces (price on request) are the ultimate in slow fashion, taking many months to produce, but for those after a faster fix, Ferrero has now introduced a limited edition customisation service that will offer one style each season in a wide range of colour combinations and design options. “We offer enough variations that people can create a unique bag,” says Ferrero, whose current choice is the structured, top-handle Iside style (from £2,280, produced in three to six months). The new iterations range from a bold, two-colour stripe that zigzags over the bag and a three-way colourblock effect to an extra strap (£365) in two-colour woven leather that allows the bag to be worn cross-body or even as a rucksack – and adds a sporty, contemporary contrast to quite a formal piece.
Next up for reimagination is the Passepartout bag, whose detachable front pocket-cum-clutch will come in numerous materials and textures – from fur and shearling to boldly handwoven “art rug” textiles.