ECCO – much more than shoes
On the occasion of the new ECCO store opening in Berlin Mitte in december 2016, I talked to Helen Patmore, Marketing Manager for ECCO Accessories about the future development of ECCO.
In more than 50 years, the danish brand ECCO became one of the biggest players in the leather industry. ECCO shoes and accessories are offered in 3,300 stores and over 14,000 sales outlets in 87 different countries. Today, the family-owned company employs more than 19,000 people worldwide.
Alongside shoes, the company also produces handbags, small leather goods and its own leather, which is also being sold to other big brands.
For a shoe brand, bags are a useful additional item when it comes to creating a customers’ entire outfit. You offer a big variety of bags. From Saddle over Bowling, Clutch, Hobo, Shoulder, Shopper and Tote Bags for women to Crossbody, Laptop, Messenger, Satchel Bags and Briefcases for men. When did you start to produce handbags and what are the important functions and features ECCO bags stand for?
ECCO Accessories has officially been founded in 2002. Hence ECCO Accessories produces high-quality bags and accessories since 15 years. It is a fresh, entrepreneurial stand-alone-brand within the global brand ECCO. But ECCO Accessories stands for the same values as ECCO – Scandinavian design, quality, premium leather and innovation. Pursuing this approach, we design timeless leather accessories with intuitive functionality which makes the perfect bag for every day.
What started as a test for ECCO to round out the offer in our retail stores, developed to a full-time leather goods business which completes and strengthens the brand ECCO. We develop high-class and bespoke accessories for shoes as well as leather care products.
On top of quality, what further motivates the customers’ decision in buying a handbag? Is it an addition to shoes, the matching colour or the leather?
We think that it is prior to an decision that the bag fulfils its purpose, rather than the criteria of matching shoes. Many styles are very versatile and can be reduced or accentuated, depending on which outfit is worn. That’s why we design bags that fit the lifestyle as well as the clothing style.
While we use a range of Danish-inspired colours, such as Nordic blue, grey, black and red, we also enhance the collections with seasonal trend colours. With regard to the leather, we start designing our leather accessories with the leather itself, in collaboration with our colleagues, we develop and design special bags, small leather goods and special leather, which is reflected in our collection.
From the leather, we then create the design to ensure that the simple design of the bag or accessory matches the quality of the leather.
This design formula can then be seen in the final results of our seasonal ladies’ and men’s collection. For certain times of the year, we are happy to create a series of matching shoes and bags, such as Christmas. These are however always an addition to our core collection.
Most of ECCO’s handbags are made from grain cow leather. Do you have a basis selection with seasonally changing colours, or completely new handbag models for every season?
We ensure that there is a steady handbag collection which is transferred from season to season – we can add seasonal design changes to this collection from time to time, for example if we discover other or better matching leather so as to continuously develop the collection. In addition, we produce novelties for every season by refreshing styles or colour combinations so as to always put out novelties seasonally.
Our leather collection stands alone from our shoe collection. Thus, it is an entirely separate collection.
What is the message of your current handbag collection?
The spring / summer 2017 collection highlights a new category called ECCO JILIN made of ECCO skydiver leather. Skydiver is a fashionable fusion of natural grained leather and rich, matte colours. Sturdy and dyed it is perfect for the series of plain, unlined pockets and small leather goods.
In our design, the leather is the true hero – straight lines and rough edges put the focus on the natural pattern of ECCO skydiver leather with its matte finish and sleek touch. The handbag series is unlined so that the leather is shown at its best and the inner beauty is visible in every piece.
“We value timeless, minimalist design with intelligent functionality. The range has a special design so that the bags can be folded flat on trips – beautifully designed and relentlessly useful“, adds Claudia Kimlead, ECCO Accessoire.
Sustainability is one of the biggest topics in the leather industry today. ECCO has its own tanneries and production lines. In this way the brand controls its whole supply chain, from „hide to high street“ as the brand proclaims. How does ECCO fulfil the criteria of a sustainable handbag production when its handbags are produced in China?
ECCO Accessories has full control over the demand for materials as well as the suppliers and also has its own distribution channels.
The production of the accessories takes place by external production companies and service providers, which, however, we have chosen according to strict rules with regard to our code of conduct and check regularly.
ECCO leather keeps the burden on the environment as low as possible and has developed highly advanced irrigation systems that support all tanneries and footwear factories worldwide. The energy consumption is also monitored sharply. Whenever possible, the use of chemicals is reduced and the waste recycled. ECCO is constantly calling on all its suppliers to do the same.
6. In order to set new trends in the leather industry and to gain and spread more know-how, ECCO strongly works together with customers and designers. At „Factory Petite“ customers can learn the development from leather to the final handbag, at the „Open Circle Lab“ and „Hot Shop“, designers are invited in order to develop new leathers and leather designs. What does that open mentality towards other companies and to your customers mean to you?
It means that ECCO can reach agreement with new ideas and potential collaboration partners that are mutually beneficial. To show openness to customers and other companies, which could even be competitors, is a way to grow and develop new ways.
You can discover ECCO’s current handbag collection on its website.
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