Montblanc has quietly become an industry leader in watches as well as leather goods and travel accessories.
But how does one go from writing instruments to diversifying their portfolio? That requires an analysis of the brand’s ethos. After all, Montblanc’s push for innovation in creating a fountain pen that does not leak, stems from a desire to make it ever more portable.
That ethos of mobility has been translated into the budding range of luggage and fine leather goods. Take for example the #MY4810 trolley, which takes the best of Japanese innovation, German engineering and Italian craftsmanship and amalgamates them all together into a fine travel companion. But innovations like that cannot be built in an echo chamber; it requires one to explore the world and source the best it has to offer.
The brand, which is named after the highest peak in Europe, has its sights set on world domination. We speak to the man in charge of leading its leather division, Jean-Charles Hita, on what separates the brand from the rest of the pack. He waxes lyrical on his journey, what drives the innovation behind the brand, listening to the needs of consumers and what makes a leather product great.
ESQ: What were you doing before Montblanc?
JEAN-CHARLES HITA: I was CEO of some fine writing brands and I’ve also worked with brands like Celine, Burberry and Armani as their managing director for the leather goods division. It’s a category that I really love, it’s a category that is very much consumer-driven and consumer-centric.
ESQ: What are your impressions of Montblanc?
JEAN-CHARLES HITA: I just started here three months ago and the reason I joined Montblanc is that it is one of the top four players in the men’s category. Montblanc doesn’t do women’s, we only focus on men’s. We have three categories: big leather goods, small leather goods and we have been developing what we call the travel category just a couple of years ago.
One of the things I learnt is that the brand is very well organised, the value for money of the brand is outstanding. And we have a large consumer base, but also there is a huge opportunity to recruit new customers as well.
ESQ: Can you tell us more about the Extreme 2.0 and the Meisterstück Urban lines?
JEAN-CHARLES HITA: The Extreme 2.0 line has been developed with performance in mind. The leather is extremely resistant, with an emphasis on mobility, created for the travellers. We are targeting a few types of customers: travellers, classic customers and casual customers.
A younger consumer could really wear this type of line. But it is also for the businessmen who wants something a little more bold, a little bit edgy. The zip that we are offering is of a very high quality and the leather is fire-proof. It is very important to know that we are not a fashion brand and we do not aim to do fashion-centric products, but we want to create the best product for that type of customer.
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