Esquire heads to Florence, Italy where Montblanc launched the 1926 Heritage leather goods collection. Jens Henning Koch, Executive Vice President of Montblanc, speaks to us about the inception of the Montblanc leather goods range, what sets it apart from
Chiara Scagli, CEO of La Perla’s Asia Pacific division.
Esquire: Could you talk about the history of the Montblanc leather goods range? Why did the maison decide to expand into that area? Jens Henning Koch: Montblanc started with pens in 1906, and we created a completely new level of quality and sophistication for writing instruments. Then the topic became how to protect the writing instruments, and so we moved into creating pen pouches. Using that same approach to quality, it was a small step to crafting our own leather goods.
Over time, we realised our maison should have its own leather manufacturer. Rather than challenging others to live up to our demands, we started a leather factory in Germany, before moving it to Florence, Italy, which is the epicentre of quality leather products, and where the tradition of great workmanship has been passed down from generation to generation. That’s exactly what we want for the kind of collection that we’re launching today.
Esquire: Small leather goods is such a saturated market. How can something from Montblanc stand out? Jens Henning Koch: One of the core pillars of Montblanc is innovation and performance, and the latter is especially important to us. From robots tossing the bags and testing the handles, to mimicking wear-and-tear to see if the colour rubs off, we have one of the best research and development centres for testing quality.
Another core pillar is functionality. We rarely do things just for the style of it. Ideally, a new element should have a function when it is integrated into our products—whether it is protecting your credit card from being read or affixing a removable pouch to your bag.
Quality testing, functional design and skilled craftsmanship are the three elements that drive Montblanc and make our goods desirable. Esquire: Speaking of the 1926 Heritage Collection that Montblanc is launching today, is it a huge departure from the rest of the accessories range? Jens Henning Koch: It’s not a departure in that sense, but rather an addition of a new leather offering. Montblanc started as a specialist in writing instruments, but it is due to the relevance and the growth of our watch and leather goods divisions that we have developed into a maison that embodies the luxury lifestyle.
Over the last few years, we have improved our lifestyle offerings, because there has been a change in the way that people conduct business. The younger generation don’t see their professional and personal lives as separate entities; instead, they have merged into a 24/7 lifestyle. They head to work, are off to the gym during lunch, and meet a potential client at night. This means they desire versatility because they have a less formal approach to life.
With this new mindset as a key consideration, Montblanc wanted to capture the singularity of our younger customers with the Heritage Collection. The urban explorer, or the urban nomad if you will, requires versatility when travelling from city to city, and from one occasion to the next. Featuring vegetable-tanned leather, each piece is unique, because for the younger generation, it’s not about expressing a particular code, but rather themselves, and they select personal items that reflect their story and sense of individualism.
“Montblanc started as a specialist in writing instruments, but it is due to the relevance and the growth of our watch and leather goods divisions that we have developed into a maison that embodies the luxury lifestyle.” – Jens Henning Koch