LONDON — Italian accessories label Il Bisonte has released its first capsule collection since appointing Emma Hill as its consultant creative director.
Hill, who has always considered the label as the pinnacle of leather craftsmanship, wanted to start by taking a look at the brand’s history and introduce subtle changes in the form of splashes of color, striped patterns and hardware.
“I’m not the kind of designer that goes in and completely changes something, it’s about evolution not revolution,” Hill said. “I wanted to make this a collection that fit in with what the brand already offers, rather than something that’s completely not Il Bisonte.”
The result was a collection of classic styles, ranging from large totes, satchels and cross-body bags, which were updated with stripes and gold padlocks. The stripes, which often came in bold metallic shades, reference an original striped canvas style from the Seventies, when the brand was founded, while the hardware was embossed with the brand’s logo, as per tradition.
The entire capsule collection was created using the brand’s signature vacchetta leather, which Hill identifies as its USP.
The designer said she plans to continue creating small capsules for the label, delving deeper into the brand’s history each time and thinking on how to update its signatures. Working with the brand’s craftsmen in Tuscany on new products or techniques that will “celebrate the heritage of Florence,” is also amongst Hill’s goals in her new role.
Her own accessories label Hill and Friends, continues to occupy the majority of her time, but she said it does not overlap aesthetically with her work for Il Bisonte. “There are Il Bisonte brand values that really appeal to me, like being a family-oriented business with an honest provenance and offering attainable luxury. But the end result is very different to Hill and Friends, which is more women-focused for a start and in a slightly different place in the market,” Hill said. “So it’s kind of perfect because we share values, but we don’t necessarily share the same customers; I don’t have to get involved with weird internal battles where I’m wondering ‘Who shall I do this for?'”
As part of its revamp, the brand has also appointed Sofia Ciucchi as its chief executive officer. Ciucchi, who previously held a series of executives roles at Ferragamo, is taking a traditionally Italian approach when it comes to defining the brand’s positioning. “The positioning I would like to have for this brand is affordable luxury but a luxury that isn’t mass. It’s really about understanding beautifully made product that can last for an entire life,” Ciucchi said.
As the brand is aligning itself on a broader lifestyle scale, the addition of furniture and bespoke services is also on the map, taking advantage of the company’s craftsmen, known for their ability to “produce anything in leather”.
She is also aiming to build brand awareness, with a message that combines the idea of heritage with the new dose of creativity that Hill is brining to the table, and expand distribution beyond Japan, which accounts for 80 to 90 percent of Il Bisonte’s business.
Store openings in Europe and the U.S. are slated for later this year, as well as a project which will reinvigorate the brand’s Florence flagship.
When it comes to wholesale, Ciucchi said the brand is working with Barney’s for its U.S. launch but is generally wary of partnering with big department stores.
“Department stores are quite challenging particularly when you are a small brand. I believe more in specialist stores or in selective multibrand stores which can work well together with directly operated stores,” Ciucchi added.
Prices for the capsule by Hill range from 295 pounds, or $367, to 515 pounds, or $640, and the full range will be sold at Il Bisonte stores and website.