The Italian manufacturer of leather bags and accessories is looking to grow in Thailand
AS ONE of the major global leathergoods marketers, Italian brand Furla is turning heads with a terrific autumn-winter collection, and chief executive Alberto Comerlengo was more than happy to tell The Nation all about it in a recent email interview.
The company’s name derives from that of its founder, Aldo Furlanetto, who got the ball rolling in Bologna in 1927. The “ball” began with and has maintained ever since superb craftsmanship and beautiful, innovative design.
Talk to experts about Furla and they’ll invariably mention these traits, the high quality, the colourful creativity and the contemporary Italian sensibility.
We asked Comerlengo about the firm’s positioning in Southeast Asia and future plans.
“The Asia-Pacific market is growing and healthy,” he said. “In the first half of 2017, we registered impressive growth of 63 per cent in the region.
“In Thailand in August we kicked off a new partnership with the Pacifica Group, which has an extensive retail network and an effective marketing strategy. We aim to make the brand stronger and grow in the competitive accessories sector in Thailand.”
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS THAT MAKE FURLA STAND OUT FROM OTHER ITALIAN BRANDS?
Furla is Italian in history and in spirit. It’s the only brand in the fast-growing premium segment that gives customers an authentic Italian experience. There is alchemy to it – the special links in design, quality leather, supply chain and quality control.
WHAT’S YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGY IN ASIA?
We have 253 stores in the Asia-Pacific region and now we have an expanded distribution strategy in place that’s set to continue throughout this year.
In Europe the brand has a strong retail footprint, so there we tend to increase awareness. But the Asian market has huge potential and here the objective is to establish experience and credibility.
TELL US ABOUT FUTURE DIRECTIONS.
To me personally, Furla stands for quality, creativity, joyfulness and the Italian lifestyle. In the future we plan to focus on a dynamic storytelling approach, which implies a shift in content-development strategy, to be more digital-driven in order to obtain substantial influence in the digital and e-commerce areas. Millennials are an important consumer segment for Furla, and they’re highly digital-savvy.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RISING TREND IN SUSTAINABLE BRANDS? HOW CAN A HIGH-END FASHION BRAND CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY?
Sustainability is the future that brands can no longer ignore. Furla is working on that step by step.
In 2008, Fondazione Furla was founded to promote the longstanding cultural relationship between Furla and contemporary art. Its reputation for supporting young Italian artists while developing, exploring and exchanging new creative channels and innovative projects is praised across the board.
Last year Furla also implemented a welfare plan to take care of our employees.
WHAT PERCENTAGE GROWTH DO YOU EXPECT IN SALES IN 2018?
It’s too early to say. With out success in first half of 2017, our intent is to continue growing organically through both diversified product categories and in our geographical footprint. That’s been a driving force behind the company’s success. We recently opened boutiques in London and Amsterdam and more will open by the end of 2017 in Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo and Prague.
THE NEW COLLECTION SPANS FIVE SERIES.
The Furla Like bag is meant to evoke the New York skyscrapers of the 1930s. Springing from the Jazz Age and the transformation of the modern workplace, and with both a shoulder strap and a handle, it features two practical zippered compartments and an angular, geometric appeal that feels creative and feminine.
The bucket-shaped Furla Caos suggests the soul of the ’70s divided between disco and folk music. The capacious, easy-going bag is available in two versions, one evocative of nightclubs in London and Berlin, all black in quilted “Popstar” calfskin, and the other also black but rigged for the shoulder and covered in Oasis leather fringe.
The Furla Hashtag shoulder-strap bag has rounded lines but unexpectedly square sides on the flap. Its strength is in its contrasting styles and high-impact details. The main pouch has three-dimensional black-on-black decorations, the strap is large and sturdy, and there is a golden buckle on the white flap. Its modest dimensions make it a great accessory for everyday use.
The Furla Blogger has the simple, youthful shape of the carryall bowling bags of the ’50s, with double handles and a strap. The bag evokes the preppy style of those years in its colour palette, too. It’s available in Oasis leather in black, red or dark green, with the lateral and upper bands around the zipper in white for contrast.
The Furla Scoop borrows two of the most typical elements of bags in the ’40s – accordion sides on the main compartment and a rectangular flap – and modernises them in python-printed calfskin leather.
In the version with a black base, the Scoop has an entirely reptilian flap, while in a second version with the base in black and the flap in cream, the python print appears as a decorative insert that frames the golden metal buckle.