Work In Fashion Presents: Héritier Frères
By Yasmin Jones-Henry
Héritier Frères: A brief history
I met with the founder Sophie Goldsztejn at Pure London in Kensington earlier this month. Walking past her stand, I found myself walking back. The briefcases, the weekend bags and the i-phone cases that also doubled as a wallet – large enough to carry bank cards and business cards… are all made with the finest Italian leather, soft to the touch. The colours: black, coffee, navy and forest green – were evidently selected with the formal working wardrobe in mind.
Reader, I thought of you.
When you work in the city – whether you are a man or woman, it is hard to find luggage/accessories/bags that allow you to blend in with your surroundings. From the commute, to the boardroom, to formal work events or after work drinks, it can be problematic trying to negotiate your gym life and work life with formal and informal settings. But fear not, I have found a brand that solves this conundrum.
As I sat down with Sophie, I began to ask her questions, I wanted to know the story behind the brand. Judging by the name – it was evidently targeting a male audience, but the designs are precisely the style that I would wear, so the Héritier Frères collection could be marketed as unisex. The tubular leather weekend bag, part of the Athlete collection, would go perfectly with any uniform the London city folk usually wear. You know the suit wearing, gym addict – that likes to head over for a quick workout during lunch, before cycling home… Yes – those people.
But as I held the Treccia briefcase (I was drawn to the blue streamline bag with the single strap) Sophie informed me that those were designed with the female office worker in mind. “Look” she said, as she ordered me to pay attention. As she unzipped the bag an elongated strap emerged transforming the briefcase into an elegant cross body or shoulder bag, suitable for after work drinks or work functions.
The thing that I loved about this collection was the fact that each item is so well thought out. So often the things that we purchase that are deemed ‘fashionable’ are normally overpriced and impractical in certain social situations. It’s why as a woman who has had all of her jobs in the city – I frequently found myself commuting with two bags and two pairs of shoes on a daily basis. Hands up who else wore trainers into work and changed into heels once in the office because there is no way your feet or the soles of your expensive shoes would survive the walk to and from the station on London’s streets? So to see a designer thinking of people like me, who can appreciate elegant things, but insist on durability and multipurpose usage… well, it makes me smile.
You all know that I believe that fashion is a form of self advertisement – an asset, a secret weapon in the corporate world that if used wisely, a person’s sense of style can help to reinforce and communicate their personal brand values. But I also believe that in order for fashion to work – it must be functional. Anything else is idle vanity.
The myth that functionality and the aesthetic are diametrically opposed – is precisely that: a myth. Looking at the ancient Greek and Roman architecture, the balance between harmony and practicality was a recurring motif. There is something extremely satisfying about creating something that works well, but also looks good. This new collection from Héritier Frères – reminded me of the simplicity of purpose and purity of form from that Classical period. That is the very essence of European design.
Designed in Paris and made in Italy, these bags are an example of why the Italians and the French are still the biggest stakeholders in luxury manufacturing. No frills, no fanfare. Understated confidence is the motif that runs throughout. As far as making an investment goes, you can make your purchase safe in the knowledge that in a decade – these pieces will still be on trend.
A Gap In the Market
The tide is changing. Increasingly the patience for fast fashion and cheaply produced items that have a short shelf life, is on the verge of expiration amongst consumers. A growing conscience and an awareness that each purchase must be worthwhile – has led to a shift of emphasis in the UK luxury market. If it’s not ethically sourced and produced with sustainability in mind and if it’s not produced to a high standard – people will just walk away taking their credit cards with them. Already high street firms are scrambling to re-strategize as they realise they have reached the end of the Fast Fashion rainbow.
So now, there is even more room for new and smaller brands like Héritier Frères to enter the market and receive the accolade it deserves. Aside from my own personal bias in favour of all things functional, the new collection is genuinely beautiful. As far as luggage goes, with her new brand, Sophie is setting a new standard. Héritier Frères will find kinship among the fashionista’s and style conscious who insist on quality in all areas – at all times. Whether you are boarding a plane for the weekend or hauling yourself to the gym after work, Héritier Frères will emerge as a go to lifestyle brand.
It is early days, the company is only 6 months old – but the narrative has already been set. With appearances at Pitti Uomo in Florence and having been exclusively picked up by luxury retailers such as Harrods, I can’t wait to hear what 2018 has in store for Sophie and her new creations. Listening to Sophie express her own interest in wanting to create a collection and a brand that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing demonstrated that there is a collective out there of people who just get it…
Who wouldn’t want a life that is filled with beauty and purpose?
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