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