MILAN — Valextra’s chief executive officer Xavier Rougeaux is aiming to expand the visibility of the brand in the men’s wear segment.
To this end, Rougeaux staged a presentation at the Milan flagship during Men’s Fashion Week, and highlighted the changes he felt were necessary. He is no stranger to the storied and luxury Italian leather goods brand, since he rejoined it in January after holding the role of marketing and commercial director from 2015 to 2016.
Rougeaux succeeded Sara Ferrero, who helmed Valextra for six years, and leverages his experience in the luxury sector as he was most recently the CEO of Smythson in London, which he joined in 2018, and he previously held senior positions at brands including Loro Piana and Sergio Rossi.
His arrival does not herald a revolution at Valextra, as he plans to continue to emphasize its prized craftsmanship and “engineering beauty,” he said, as well as the timelessness of its products. However, he is making changes that he believes will help modernize the brand. For example, the successful Avietta travel bag with its double compartments and external pockets is rendered in a softer printed calf that makes it more contemporary and flexible when on the go.
“The themes of mobility on the body and versatility are important,” the executive underscored. Pouches with adjustable straps are an example.
His goal is also to “expand the customer journey with a new architecture of different prices,” so that new customers can “approach, familiarize with and appreciate the brand,” starting for example from the new B-Tracollina Slim, a structural pouch bag, proportioned to carry an iPhone or Android device, as well as cards and keys and retailing at around 995 euros.
“Aesthetic elements are key, but so is functionality,” he said.
Highlights included the return of the classic Havana shade with contrasting stitching and the signature Costa lacquered piping in green — a tribute to the founder Giovanni Fontana; an update on the iconic Tric Trac wrist bag through an adjustable strap so it can be worn across the body — as well as by its wrist strap, and crossbody compartment bags.
The new weekend and travel Canvas bag is marked by Valextra’s signature rounded pocket which has a foiled code number unique to the bag and the artisan who made it. The architectural curved pocket is inspired by the windows of the first Valextra boutique in Milan. The canvas can be recycled, Rougeaux said.
The new V-line Bumbag, crafted from Valextra’s signature Millepunte calf skin, has been designed to be worn either across the body or carried as a clutch with the strap removed. Comprising two compartments, one opens out to reveal card slots, a pen loop and pockets, while the other provides space for passports and tech, making it ideal for traveling.
The new Pocket handbag was inspired by the asymmetric lines of Valextra’s SLG collections and comprises three pockets — two snap-closing flap compartments and one central zipped space. The strap mechanism rotates 180 degrees to swing in sync with the body. Without the strap, it’s a capacious day-to-night clutch.
“Everything is artisanal but authentic and this is what the luxury customer wants,” Rougeaux mused.
As reported, Ralph Toledano joined Valextra’s board of directors in January. Toledano has headed brands including Karl Lagerfeld, Guy Laroche, Chloé and Puig’s fashion unit. He is the chairman of Victoria Beckham and the president of the Fédération Française de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. Toledano is also a partner in Neo Investment Partners, which bought a majority stake in Valextra in 2013. The London-based investment firm has stakes in fashion and lifestyle brands including Victoria Beckham Ltd., Miller Harris and Alain Mikli.