Monday, 15 March 2010

Website Review - Aspinal of London - Luxury Leather Goods
I first met Iain Burton, Chairman of Aspinal of London, several years ago and what struck me, apart from the great products (it was quite a small range back then), the insistance on high quality and his extremely friendly and obviously capable workforce at all levels, was his sheer determination and drive to make Aspinal a household name for luxury.

And, why am I not surprised, he has succeeded in spades in what, in my opinion, is no easy feat in any market, let alone the one we're in at the moment, when other major luxury brands appear to be hitting the buffers.

Working with luxury brands is always interesting because there's the eternal battle going on where fashion and edginess tries to combat commerciality.

You only have to look at the catwalk shows of the major stars to wonder, in many cases, what they're on, which is ususally linked to the amount of column inches they can inspire from the assembled press, inevitably, in itself, linked to how newsworthy the collection is, which has very little to do with direct commerciality.

That may sound jaundiced, but having once been a judge on a panel at one of the major Fashion
Colleges, looking for a 'new star', and representing an entirely commercial fashion mail order catalogue alongside the Telegraph's then Fashion Editor, and having made the mistake of voting for something commercial (which lost my company it's page in the newspaper), I think you can say that I've learnt the hard way. Edginess and avant garde is interesting to the press, commercial is not, hence the eternal battle.

Unwearability = column inches = brand in the press = perfume and handbag sales. And so it goes on. Ok that's taking it a bit far - the distillation of what appears on the catwalks is generally eminently wearable and covetable, and you can include skincare, cosmetics, shoes and jewellery in with the perfume and handbags.
Anyway, back to Aspinal - not content with an excellent collection of very high quality leather accessories and gifts for everyone, Aspinal branched out into the far riskier area of handbags and modern luggage, and has done that brilliantly too. The prices are cleverly well below what your average Fendi, Balenciaga and Miu Miu would be (as they should be, as those brands carry so much long established prestige) but there are many designs any arm-candy conscious girl would be happy to tote, and the column inches in the glossies are there, ready to prove it.