‘THE IMAGECONSCIOUS MAN HAS LONG HAD TO MAKE DO WITH A WELLCUT SUIT, GOOD WATCH AND PEN’

The National - News - Luxury - - HIGHLIGHTS - Selina Den­man, editor

When it comes to their ap­pear­ance, men have tra­di­tion­ally had lim­ited out­lets for per­sonal ex­pres­sion. While women have been able to ex­per­i­ment with mul­ti­fac­eted wardrobes, bags of ev­ery con­ceiv­able shape and size, shoes of prac­ti­cally any height and, per­haps most notably, beauty prod­ucts that trans­form the face, your im­age-con­scious man has long had to make do with a well-cut suit, a good watch, the odd pair of cuff­links and, per­haps, a strate­gi­cally placed pen.

When you are try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate who you are with the things you carry on your per­son, those are tiny can­vases to work with. But that’s not to say they can’t pack a punch. This month, we look at Mon­te­grappa’s lat­est writ­ing in­stru­ment, which is part ac­tion fig­ure, part ob­jet d’art, part pen. Mon­te­grappa’s CEO, Guiseppe Aquila, ex­plains how the com­pany is in­creas­ingly look­ing to cre­ate “com­pli­cated” pens – in a nod to the com­pli­ca­tions that make me­chan­i­cal watches so al­lur­ing. With the Sa­mu­rai, this translates as mov­able arms, an ac­com­pa­ny­ing sword that dou­bles as a pa­per cut­ter, and a his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate suit of ar­mour painstak­ingly ren­dered through the an­cient lost-wax tech­nique.

There are some who will won­der whether pens, com­pli­cated or not, have any place in our dig­i­tal age. Does any­one write any­thing any­more? Aquila an­swers with an un­equiv­o­cal yes – and has the num­bers to prove it. In the last year, the brand has seen a 60 per cent in­crease in the sale of foun­tain pens (which shows that not only are peo­ple buy­ing pens, they are also buy­ing them in their most tra­di­tional form).

Zaim Ka­mal, cre­ative di­rec­tor of Mont­blanc, con­curs. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view on page 28, he tells us that mil­len­ni­als and mem­bers of the much­sought-af­ter Gen Z are “re­dis­cov­er­ing the beauty of crafts­man­ship” and that lux­ury brands are in a unique po­si­tion to share sto­ries that these con­sumers might not oth­er­wise be fa­mil­iar with. He uses a sim­ple swirl on Mont­blanc’s spe­cial-edi­tion Miles Davis pen as a case in point. “Miles Davis has a very spe­cific way of blow­ing his horn, and he al­ways said he got this very spe­cial breath from a tor­nado that he was ex­posed to as a child in Kansas. Sud­denly, you are open­ing up a whole new world. This is the trans­mis­sion that we do,” Ka­mal ex­plains.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing to a younger, more dig­i­tally savvy au­di­ence is some­thing that fash­ion brand MCM is prov­ing adept at. For its lat­est cam­paign, it joined forces with Amer­i­can rap­per and pro­ducer Rich the Kid, and Span­ish in­flu­encer and DJ Sita Abel­lan, for a series of im­ages that are bristling with raw, youth­ful en­ergy. “It used to be the more ma­ture age group dom­i­nat­ing the lux­ury mar­ket,” says Kim Sung-joo, founder of the Sungjoo Group, which owns MCM, on page 17. “But now, it’s a younger group. The old-school lux­ury at­ti­tude, with a high nose and a high price, and treat­ing peo­ple as if they will fol­low blindly, is over. A new life­style is emerg­ing, which I think is no longer about big names, big ego­tis­ti­cal brands and big egos.”

In­stead, lux­ury is be­com­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of the unique, of crafts­man­ship and of in­no­va­tion. And also, as Ka­mal is so acutely aware, about all the sto­ries, both old and new, that can be shared.

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