Ametti, an ambitious Italian-made brand of handbags, accessories and luggage, combines the fast-fashion learnings of its cofounders, Massimo Dutti alumnae Tessa Horovitz and Jessie Minikes, with a luxury mind-set, elevated materials and thoughtful design.
With its distinctive visual vocabulary and utilitarian qualities, Ametti’s handbags are designed to become heirlooms, while technology-enabled luggage has been engineered to corner the market on feminine traveling cases, which the cofounders believe doesn’t exist.
Ametti is expected to do $1.5 million in its first year, Horovitz said, adding, “It has a lovely lifeline ahead of it.” Powering the growth will be the principles of Inditex, Massimo Dutti’s parent, including “strategy, replenishment, distribution, constant distribution and a total offer.”
Horovitz and Minikes aren’t proposing a return to the days when air travel was chic and those who traveled on planes dressed stylishly. The whole exercise of flying has devolved from polished looks and matching Louis Vuitton luggage, to sweatpants, hoodies and sneakers and backpacks. Ametti’s cofounders believe there’s something to be said for polished and matchy-matchy.
As Massimo Dutti’s creative director for casual, Minikes traveled constantly and was struck by the disconnect between designer handbags and masculine luggage. “We were slapped with gender roles in the Fifties,” she said, “for example, that traveling was for men. There’s been modern advancements in travel, but nobody has spoken to the idea that there’s a style component to travel. No one has taken the time to orchestrate the fashion behind the travel experience.”
Ametti, which has a retro appeal that’s unapologetically ladylike, will launch with 12 handbag styles and two colorways, priced from $245 to $1,695. Handbags have interchangeable parts transforming into clutches and evening bags. The Granita strap, a galvanized finished metal chain with a printed leather shoulder pad, is an add-on for $245.
With only 50 pieces of each style in the inaugural Bellini collection, Ametti’s web site is pre-selling with waiting lists. Luce, which is inspired by elegant Fifties top-handle handbags, has a tight-grained Italian leather shell printed with the brand’s Mosaico pattern and a flap closure with signature Chiusura metal lock for $1,695. Handbags are lined with aqua leather or fabric, and have a side pocket, back outer pocket for credit cards and lipstick pocket.
“The prices points are affordable luxury,” Horovitz said. “We wanted to make sure the bags have the details and creativity associated with luxury price points. We stand behind the quality and are creating an experience for consumers. At $265, there’s an opportunity to purchase some items from the collection and grow. Luxury, right now, is a very common noun. We want to be as fair as possible. That’s one of the reasons we decided to launch exclusively with the web site.”
“We want to provide a luggage travel brand that could be considered a Rimowa or Tumi, but from a feminine point of view, which doesn’t exist,” Minikes said. “We want to make sure we’re offering a bag a girl can relate to on her shoulder, and a bag she can relate to when she’s traveling. The idea is that we want to make sure we have a full offer in our lifestyle brand.”
“No one needs to forget about their femininity, just because someone else forgot about it,” Horovitz added.
Luggage is embedded with a scale, which together with Ametti’s app shows the weight when the piece is lifted up by its handles. A tracking device similar to the iPhone’s Find Your Phone technology, when used in conjunction with the app, can trace a piece of luggage that should have arrived in Tacoma, but took a wrong turn and wound up in Tokyo.
“The luggage will really complete the look,” Minikes said. “It coordinates with the handbags, both inside and out. The luggage was thought to enter the collection and work together and you can use it as a whole, including the small vanity case and everything you need for organizing inside the luggage.”
“We’ve talked about it a lot brick-and-mortar distribution,” Minikes said. “We know it’s important. We want to start creating the experiences. We’re looking at pop-up shops in an airport, where you discover the product and ship from the airport or branding with a hotel chain. It’s very important consumers feel the whole experience behind the brand and it’s very tricky to leave that up to someone else.”
“We really want to be the woman’s travel companion,” said Horovitz. “We want to take it to another level.”