How two fashion industry veterans are redefining luxury for a new generation – CNBC

The interlocking "L" and "V" printed on the leather-based of Louis Vuitton bags are immediately recognizable each to those that can afford to spend hundreds of on a purse and to those that want they may. For a lot of, that recognition is the explanation a Louis Vuitton purse — or a Fendi or a Gucci or a Henri Bendel — is fascinating. For years, it has been an assertion of standing, achievement and wealth.

With their bespoke purse begin-up 1 Atelier, two fashion industry veterans, Stephanie Sarka and Frank Zambrelli, are betting that the definition of luxury is evolving, particularly for the youthful generation.

"Whenever you stroll into a room and 7 ladies are sporting your $three,000 purse, what's uncommon about that? What's luxurious about one thing that everybody has? It is not luxurious anymore," says co-founder and artistic director Zambrelli.

"[The bag] could be fantastically made and costly, but it surely's now not luxurious. You've got ruined it. And I feel we have ruined it, as an industry."

Zambrelli has purpose to know: He has spent his whole profession in luxury equipment. His first job out of the Fashion Institute of Expertise was with Chanel beneath Karl Lagerfeld. He went on to work at Cole Haan beneath John Varvatos after which he launched Coach's footwear line.

It was at Coach that he met Sarka, a co-founder and the CEO of Atelier.

Sarka began her skilled life at Goldman Sachs and obtained her MBA at Harvard. She labored at Coach for seven years and launched GoTo, an early Web begin-up which grew to $ billion in income in 4 years and went public in 1999. Since then, she has been an advisor and investor in numerous start-ups.

She's additionally turn out to be the sort of buyer focused by Atelier.

"At a level in your life, you get assured sufficient that you really want your objects to be a private assertion, not the assertion of another person's view of a life-style. Clearly, to start with, your first job or your first main paycheck, you are leaping onto borrowed curiosity. You need to be like these individuals within the Gucci advert," says Sarka.

"It simply provides you a feeling of being another person's billboard, and that is an uncomfortable feeling."

To attraction to this new, assured buyer, Sarka and Zambrelli raised $.5 million in seed funding and launched Atelier in October 2016. They've drawn on Sarka's technological background and Zambrelli's industry experience.

Clients design their very own purses from a number of cuts and supplies and the baggage, which price wherever from $295 to $eight,500 a piece, are handmade in Atelier's one-room manufacturing unit, studio, showroom and workplace in midtown Manhattan.

A bag takes a grasp craftsman between six and 12 hours of labor to make. Alongside the way in which, Atelier sends the shopper private messages with updates and pictures of the bag in course of.

21 days after inserting an order, the shopper receives her bag.

Purse makers like Mon Purse and Laudi Vidni additionally provide design-your-personal purse companies however Zambrelli maintains that his many years of expertise in luxury equipment and his direct, private relationships with premium leather-based tanneries, primarily in Italy, give his merchandise an edge.

Since October, Atelier has bought hundreds of luggage, and greater than a quarter of consumers got here again to purchase a second bag, the corporate experiences. Though the founders declined to share particular income numbers, they are saying that they have been rising steadily and their purpose is to proceed to develop.

In addition they say that they need to be capable to scale their enterprise in a lot the identical means as luxury automobiles.

"Rising one-offs is basically what the automotive industry does, so we have already got a precedent for us. Vehicles that go down the road of a manufacturing unit are not all black or not all white or not all pink. Each single automotive has an order. Someone has picked out all of these supplies and actually this works the identical means," says Zambrelli. "A number of individuals working throughout silhouette, or materials or sequence of components that naturally go collectively in a manufacturing sense.

"So there may be actually an infinite risk by way of scaling."

Whilst Atelier scales, although, there are loads of designs for prospects to find. The fashionistas are impressed with the creativity of their prospects.

Sarka and Zambrelli say they've figured there are a "quadrillion" completely different purses prospects may design on the platform, mathematically talking. "It means you'll by no means stroll into a room and see your bag," says Zambrelli. "Which is the entire level."

How two fashion industry veterans are redefining luxury for a new generation - CNBC