Alberto Camerlengo CEO of Furla on what makes the accessories brand unique and the importance of spreading the message and values of the brand in achieving global success.
Italian leather goods company Furla, was founded by the Furlanetto family in 1927. This family have devoted their lives to the brand, generation after generation to ensure that the values and methods of the company have remained the same. Until today this family business thrives on being a one-of-a-kind brand in Italy. Its values of Italian craftsmanship combined with accessible luxury, allow men and women all around the world to experience the traditionally made Italian leather goods. Founded in Bologna, Furla’s heart and soul has always remained in Italy and its headquarters today is located in a historic 18th-century villa in Bologna.
The brand’s CEO Alberto Camerlengo is working to sustain the Italian history of the brand while moving with the times and the growing demands of today’s customer. Their targeted consumer base is widespread, with subsidiaries in the USA, France, Japan, China, and Korea as well as a huge presence in stores and department stores around the world. Camerlengo is using this treasure that the brand has of Italian spirit and heritage to spread the message of Furla around the globe. Here we find out more about the importance of Italy to the brand and the plans for life after COVID-19.
What does Italy mean to you personally?
Italy is culture, beauty and strength.
Tell us more about the importance of “Made in Italy” and why do you think there is such a fascination with this concept globally?
Italy has always loved beauty and craftsmanship. We live in a country where beauty is everywhere, we have been the cradle of Renaissance, we have the most beautiful cities in the world, so I would say that as Italians we are used to thinking about beauty and to always look for It. Our history is characterised by a commercial and cultural exchange, this is our DNA and for this reason, we always try to enhance our manufacture not just from a technical point of view. Beauty and passion are always at the centre of what we do. Our savoir-faire is quite unique because it’s rooted in our tradition.
How do you think the values and culture of Italy are reflected through Furla?
Furla is the original inclusive luxury brand that de ned the category over 90 years ago. Since 1927 the brand has been dedicated to creating luxury-standard accessories, which are accessible to a broad audience of consumers. As the only Italian brand in its category, Furla stands for quality, creativity and an optimistic yet con dent personality. Furla’s beautiful, high-quality accessories stand out for their uniquely Italian attitude to life. They are designed with the simple purpose of bringing a smile to the customer’s face.
Furla is the only global brand in its category with an Italian heritage. Established in 1927 by Aldo Furlanetto in Bologna, Furla looks to the future with a foot grounded in its solid past of time-honoured craftsmanship, sophisticated elegance and playful originality. The brand never forgets its Italian sensibility and its generous and creative DNA.
Furla has a respected legacy, what is part of its story inspires you most?
What fascinates and inspires me most is the fact that Furla has always been guided by a woman. Mrs Giovanna Furlanetto, our President, has devoted her life to this beautiful brand. Furla has been through a World War and a lot of global crises, but it’s still a strong and independent family business.
Italy has suffered greatly throughout the global pandemic we are currently experiencing – when all of this is over what do you expect to see from the recovery of this crisis?
I think consumers behaviours will change a lot, they will be much more selective. Values and authenticity will be key elements when it comes to buying something. There will be a rebirth, but even when difficulties are over, people will not forget them and there will be a strong need for substance and integrity. We are in good shape: we have a long history and tradition; we have always been true to ourselves and to our core business. At the same time, a lot of brands will change: the fashion industry needs to reorganise itself in many aspects. Technology and digitalisation will be more and more important.
In every crisis, there is always an opportunity – what is something positive that will come out of this situation?
Rediscovering real values: the importance of family, of authentic relationships, to see who is available to share with you not only the beautiful moments, but also sacrifices, and this is also true when talking about business. We have seen in our company that real talents stand out in this difficult moment, It’s all about your attitude and beliefs in times of need. Now is the moment of truth.
When all of this is over will you be changing any of the strategies of the brand and has it had an impact on how you will move forward?
We will strengthen and boost our Omnichannel distribution while standing with our core business of inclusive luxury. Implementing and redistributing will be key. In the past two months, we reorganised our company to be ready for post-COVID-19, which is an unexplored land. We are ready in terms of organisation, supply chain, information technology and product.
Do you think it will impact the buying behaviour of customers?
Of course and not only customers, let’s also think about buyers. Technology plays an essential role as we organised ourselves to manage everything online: virtual showroom, digital look books, new interactive and experiential solutions, and e-commerce implementation. The emergency has changed the fashion game and it has accelerated the process of innovation in many different ways: from smart working to virtual technology and interactive approach to customers. On the other side, customer behaviours will also change in terms of preferences. Brands with authentic values and quality products will be preferred.
Let’s talk about the SS20 collection. The inspiration and the products.
It’s an elegant and sophisticated collection in its shapes and colours, mixing Italian craftsmanship and contemporary beauty. The new Furla logo, the arch, is the l rouge of the entire collection. Our design team wanted to draw inspiration from a symbolic element with a strong visual impact, which should underline the brand’s values and history. The starting point for the Furla’s arch logo was the arch of the Fondazione Furla building in Bologna and additionally, it symbolises inclusivity, an open door to the new Furla world. The logo assumes, for the first time in the history of Furla, a bold statement. It allows Furla bags to become immediately recognisable. The Furla 1927 bag is the protagonist of the spring/summer collection and it is the first bag that includes the arch as a structural element, underlining the brand’s identity. It stands for heritage, authenticity and craftsmanship.
To what extent do you believe that brands should invest in offering more experiential moments with their customers and how is that applied at Furla?
In my vision, the capability of offering a unique and pleasant experience to customers is, more than ever, a key point in all market segments. People will be more and more attracted to products and brands that are able to offer them something more than simply buying a product. We embraced this vision in Furla at the end of 2019 when we decided that our brand should step up from a competitive scenario, which seemed to be “promotion driven only”. Therefore, we started to work on different touch points to offer our customers a distinctive experience. The first aspect we worked on was the integration of the digital environment with the physical one.
The idea was to create a digital community of Furla lovers who would be able to find in the physical hubs (stores) the values they appreciate in our brand: from design to craftsmanship to exclusive treatments through personalisation programs etc. In our vision customers of all segments will more and more switch from the digital to the physical (and vice versa) environments, expecting a total consistency. That’s why we worked on those two environments in a holistic way. Furthermore, since experience is personal we want to treat each customer as unique. Our goal is being able to have a personal custom-made contact strategy to offer each of them what they really appreciate the most.
When this situation is over, what is the first thing that you will do?
Of course, this “quarantine life” Is not the best situation, but I have to say I’ve learned to appreciate also its positive sides, such as spending more time with my family for example. Anyway, as soon as this is over, I will go for a real Italian Espresso. Short and strong!
Growing up, what are some of your first memories of Italy as a child?
It was a very different Italy, or rather life was very different. I grew up in the wonderful Verona. I remember there were very few cars and life was slow-paced. It was more of community life, we were close to our neighbours and we used to go to the little shops we call “botteghe” to buy all that we needed.
Where in Italy do you like to travel to and what’s your favourite city and why?
Italy is my passion and I love every little corner of this beautiful country. I love to go to the seaside, but also to the mountains. I also love to take my children to visit our beautiful art cities. I never go to the same place twice, there’s too much to discover and to see in this country.
Can you share with us any Italian traditions that you have with your family and friends?
Preparing homemade pasta with my family, a tradition that has been handed down to me by my father.
What is the motto you are living by during this time?
Together we are stronger.
How are you spending your days while staying at home in this “quarantine mode”?
Smart working is key in this moment and I have to say it is going very well and it is very productive. I’m spending a lot of time with my family and children, while usually is difficult since I am always travelling for business. I rediscovered the importance of time: time to think, time to spend with your loved ones, time for myself, reading a book, listening to a podcast, calling your friends.
What does Milan mean to you?
I love Milan. I think Milan is the most charismatic, vivid and open city in Italy. It’s booming year after year and not only for its business and financial activities but also for its beauty and the incredible opportunities it has to offer.
How would you describe Italy in one word?