Latin America, drawn to luxury leather goods

March 22, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Year after year the luxury market in Latin America continues to see
growth, often despite unstable economies in some of its countries,
demonstrating how important the continent is to luxury. However, despite
the huge amount of potential buyers, Latin countries have not made strong
efforts to become producers for luxury goods until now. The number of local
brands are now growing, presenting products with a Latin essence capable of
competing with luxury giants worldwide.

2018 presents a challenging year for the luxury industry
internationally due to political changes, heightened security, and
instability in exchange rates have been affecting consumer habits in most
markets. Nevertheless, a global study on luxury products conducted by
Euromonitor remains optimistic, with a 5 percent global growth forecast,
because, even after a challenging 2016, 2017 represented a 4 percent
growth. It is also expecting a 34 percent growth rate between 2015 and
2019 in this industry, particularly in luxury leather goods, like handbags,
(15 percent), and shoes (21 percent).

This global growth trend reveals that markets like Mexico and Brazil
continue to see steady growth in numbers of luxury consumers. However, the
United States’ little growth has been seen in its’ number of luxury
consumers. In an interview via email, Evelyn Rodríguez, research analyst at
Euromonitor International, commented to FashionUnited: “Mexico is already
considered, along with Brazil, the main markets for luxury goods’ sales in
Latin America. Most of the sales volume comes from international brands, so
most of the goods are imported, and only a small percentage are locally
produced.” Despite this, entrepreneurs remain encouraged to create products
that reflect a national identity due to the consumer trend to buy local
goods.

Abelardo Marcondes, CEO of Latin America’s prominent luxury brand
summit, Luxury Lab, mentioned to FashionUnited via email that in more
recent years, Mexico has been the birthplace of multiple luxury brands,
causing the production rate and demand in this market to grow in the
country. “Mexico is expected to continue growth and become a leading
market, surpassing Brazil, which is finally getting out of the recession
that hit the country a few years ago,” he commented. The growth in the
sector is mainly due to local brands diversifying the products and prices
offered, reaching multiple markets at once. Additionally, in recent years
the region has seen improvement in both quality and design of luxury goods
produced. Nowadays, many of these products are considered competition for
international luxury brands.

Designer and founder of his namesake brand, Jamie Ibiza shared with
FashionUnited during an in-person interview, that this has been one the the
best years for Mexico as a premium leather goods producer. “We have been
able to cross different borders. However, the most important achievement
has been to be head to head with all luxury brands. For example, by being
in Liverpool you share the space with all the global brands and get to
compete in an international level,” he stated.

Ibiza comments that the growth seen in Mexico has been driven by the
country’s high amount of design talent offering high-quality products.
Designers native of the country are also expanding their offerings
internationally more frequently. Jamie Ibiza is a perfect example of this,
opening stores in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Chile within the
last two years.

Handbags with Latin style

Mexico, in particular, is beginning to stand out in the luxury leather
accessories scene. Luxury items such as handbags, wallets, briefcases, and
smaller goods from this country are quickly becoming more in demand for by
both national and international shoppers.

“Even when foreign brands prevail in luxury leather goods (LLG),
Mexicans are looking for unique alternatives and experiment with local
brands. LLG are expected to keep growing in the 5 next years around 8
percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate),” Evelyn Rodríguez explained
during the interview.

One of the biggest trends the expert shared is that Mexican shopper
value the buying experience, local brands are beginning to tailor sales to
fit this consumer expectation.

“Local luxury brands are differentiating themselves from international
brands with the proposal of uniqueness, different materials, exclusive
collections and a particular shopping experience,” Rodriguez pointed out.
However, Abelardo Marcondes considers that in order for Mexico to be seen
as an important emerging market in both production and sales of luxury
leather goods there would have to be a stronger understanding and
professionalization of the leather industry as a luxury item, not only as a
market need. “We are on the right path, but there’s still a need to change
the local market’s perception regarding quality of the national industry,
as well as a need to have a bigger supply that reaches and overcomes the
standards international brands have,” he mentioned during a interview.

Concerning other countries in Latin America, Luxury Lab’s CEO explains
that even though historically this industry has had a bigger development in
Brazil and Argentina, nowadays it’s also important to pay attention to
Bolivia, Colombia and Chile, where many innovative proposals are going on,
with a high quality as well.

Latin-American luxury gems

Despite being one of the most competitive industries today, growth in
the region has been a shock to the luxury market due to the lack of luxury
brands being sold in many of the countries. Only ten years ago a large
expansion was seen when international luxury brands began targeting local
retailers, developing a stronger fashion culture in the Lasin audience.

However, Ibiza pointed out, that the increase in brand competition
created another issue: “We lived in an era of a strong protectionism and
when the market opened up learning the new rules was interesting. Now you
have in one single store every producer in the world and before you only
had to compete with the national brands, because no one else could
enter.”

Jaime Ibiza

The Mexican brand founded by Jaime Ibiza has been designing,
manufacturing and selling handbags and accessories since 1982. The entrance
of the label to the luxury market wasn’t easy, and to remain standing in
this ever-changing environment has been a challenge because both the
industry’s and the consumer’s needs are evolving with a faster speed year
after year. Nevertheless, today it’s the brand with the biggest growth in
Mexico, which has opened new business opportunities like their recent
co-branding project with Disney. Additionally, nine months ago the designer
opened his first boutique in Monterrey. At present, the brand has expanded
its product range from handbags – their star product – to other leather
goods, such as diaper bags, makeup bags, luggage, and belts, to name a
few.

Recent collection: Nativo, with laser details.
Icon: the stitch, which has two eights linked together, which means
abundance.
Price point: 100 USD
Where to buy: Liverpool and online jaimeibiza.com.mx

Pantera

Considered one of the most important Mexican luxury brands for leather
accessories, Pantera was created by two fashion experts, Alejandra and
Laura Laviada, who, at the beginning, had planned to produce handbags in
different types of fabric with unique designs created by them, putting
together their talents, since Alejandra is a graphic artist, and Laura is a
graphic designer. Nevertheless, their entrepreneurial path led them through
the road of exotic leather, which ended up being extremely successful,
positioning them in the international market at first, in 2007. As many
Latin-American brands, Pantera first launched its products outside of
Mexico, in Canada, United States, and France. It wasn’t until they had
gained the interest of the foreign buyers that they managed to grow strong
in Mexico – in 2013 – where they currently have their own stores and
exclusive spaces in the best department stores.

Recent collection: Pantera Men with bags, luggage and accessories.
Icon: tote
Price Point: 300 USD
Where to buy: Via Santa Fe, Palacio de Hierro and online pantera.com.mx

Mario Hernández

Colombia is considered the fourth most important country in America in
the production of leather goods, with an array of exceptional accessories,
handbags and shoes. Colombia is known for having some of the finest
leathers, coming from the fact that it’s the fourth most important country
in the world in cattle breeding. Although the leather industry in the
country used to restrict its reach to the exportation of raw material, the
commerce of leather goods has lately grown with a rate that exceeds 10%
annually. Mario Hernández is a great example of the quality Colombian
pieces have to offer. The firm that was founded in 1978 with the proud
promise to deliver handcrafted handbags of impeccable quality step by step
won over the local market, until it was strong enough to become an
international company in the mid nineties.

Recent collection: Patent leather
Icon: leather engraved with butterflies, icon since 1998
Price point: 250 USD
Where to buy: boutiques in Colombia, Venezuela, Panamá, Costa Rica, Aruba
and Russia.
Online: mariohernandez.com.co

Solantu

Argentina, one of the most powerful countries in leather in America, is
the home of this luxury leather goods brand. Solantu offers a different
proposal of leather pieces, handcrafted with exotic skins that come from
their own farm, with which they promote a sustainable industry. The brand
expects to contribute to the conservation of the Argentinian alligator, and
to the community of Argentinian craftsmen, by adding this additional value
to the brand. The company’s farm works with a “ranching” model that seeks
to ensure the balance between commercial use and long term conservation.
Therefore, they protect the alligators during their incubation time and
afterwards some of them are released into their natural habitats in order
to preserve their life cycle. More than 9000 alligators have been relocated
since 2005.

Recent collection: clutches with colored onyx
Icon: crossbodies
Price point: 4000 USD
Where to buy: boutiques in Buenos Aires and Madrid, Harvey Nichols and
online: solantu.com

Images: Pantera, Jaime Ibiza y Solantu