Interview with the Commercial Director of Chabrand.
Mauro Di Mauro recounts the beginnings of this brand which originally offered all kinds of professional bags. From the multi-pocketed doctor’s bag to the notary’s briefcase, to the lawyer’s satchel. The brand was originally founded circa 1950, on rue Saint Ferreol, in the heart of Marseille, before taking on the Chabrand name in 1982. At that time, the founding father Pierre Chabrand was creating high-quality, purely practical models, with prices starting at 6 500 francs. The wooden compartments built into some of these bags were what first earned the craftsman the foundations of his stellar reputation. Since then, the brand has gradually made a name for itself as a leader in the complex world of leather goods, over the course of its various owners and shop openings in France. From notoriety on a local level, it has become nationally recognised. Today, the brand gives its image a new lease of life, developing a line of bags which are ergonomic and modern, calibrated and different.
Continuing to lead Chabrand into the present. This plural line includes styles as varied as the people who might wear them. Backpacks, handbags, crossbody bags… The finishings are always neat and the designs clear – sharp precision results in versatile and functional products. Over the years, Chabrand has demonstrated a capacity for innovation and brand renewal which has become indispensable. By defying trends and short-lived fashions, the Phocaean label has been able to ensure that its logo continues to be stamped on these precious pieces of leather. These days, the challenge for the brand is to reincarnate current trends. For the past 10 years, this has been the leitmotiv of the brand’s new owner, who has set himself the mission of expanding its product offer and updating its models, whilst benefiting from the solid foundations of the label’s popularity. Reinterpreting trends could mean, for example, offering adjustable bags which boast several possible uses: a single object for a myriad of situations. Everyday life has become as versatile as the lines on our resume affirm, so these accessories too, must be able to adapt to any given situation.
Moving away from the shackles of tradition. The goal of the current season is to extend the brand to the whole hexagon, not remaining confined within the PACA region. The aim is to open up points of sale in the north-eastern third of France, and even more internationally. Who’s Next is therefore the perfect meeting place to build up contacts and gain potential buyers, in order to increase order numbers. This is in line with the challenges of the day, which involve constantly questioning oneself, pushing boundaries and competing with other brands. And positive results follow, as evidenced by the 92 new distributor accounts which have opened up in the past 3 years, based between Lyon, Strasbourg and Lille. “This means that a certain kind of well-established clientele is receptive to the new products we offer. Similarly, while most brands ask for a minimum number of guaranteed orders before embarking on a new collaboration, we only ask if they want to work with us! The idea is to do business without constraints, in order to prove the validity of our products – this is what allows us to establish relationships which are straightforward and human, at the same time as multiplying opportunities.”
Clear ideas and a well-defined project. As per the advice of Mauro di Mario, “You have to know how to link future projections to the basic concept, especially since success rarely comes suddenly!” He adds that, listening to customers remains the fundamental principle of a brand. And after this, it is a matter of giving weight to a popular opinion, shared by many. In addition, the once highly regarded craft of the leatherworker is gradually being lost as the materials used to make accessories now come from increasingly diverse sources. For example, synthetic materials have become increasingly prominent lately. However, paradoxically, leather goods not only attract today’s youth as customers, but we are also witnessing a reinvention of the leather goods trade in terms of design and production. “The idea is therefore to continue to develop, but not at a frantic pace, in order to expand our presence in the French territory.”
New meetings and development. Attending Who’s Next for the first time, in January 2020, Chabrand is taking advantage of this opportunity to make itself known outside its native and emblematic South. Marseillaise through and through, the brand proudly exhibits its new line of reversible bags, to a French and international clientele. At the same time, they focus on developing new contacts outside the network of traditional leatherworkers, in order to gradually integrate themselves into sectors within which they are not yet well known. There is no doubt that this commercial strategy is proving successful, and that this leather goods company, which grew up in the shadows of Marseille’s emblematic symbol, the Bonne Mère cathedral, will grow beyond its historical boundaries.