- Buyer's Guide
Fernando Bonastre Interview & Roztayger.com Giveaway
To celebrate the arrival of the new Bonastre collection appearing atop her digital shelves Elizabeth Jeffer, founder of Roztayger.com, gains first-hand insight from Fernando Bonastre – the man behind this Parisian luxury carry brand – on artisanal craftsmanship, superior leathers and design inspirations…
I read that the study of architecture has informed your bag design…can you elaborate on the connection, and how that carries over or is applied to your design process?
The design process is mainly dictated by the construction of each piece. The “architecture” of the product has to reconcile aesthetics with functionality.
What prompted you to establish your brand in Paris? While you manufacture in your native Spain, was the climate there not conducive to establishing a brand like Bonastre?
I’ve been living in Paris for years, Paris is definitely my city and definitely the city of fashion. I never considered creating my brand elsewhere, although I am lucky enough to have my collections produced in an area of Spain where the traditional know-how of leather handcrafting is passed down through generations. That’s greatly valuable for the quality of my bags.
You worked at a few couture design studios in Paris – what did you learn working there that has influenced the Bonastre collection?
Yes, I worked for Lacroix and Montana in their couture studios. Now I actually think of each of my pieces as a piece of couture; I always try to approach design from an angle of sophistication and simplicity, which to me makes all the difference.
Can you talk us through the process of what makes Bonastre’s leathers unique? For example their sourcing, or the treatments applied. I understand you work exclusively with vegetable-tanned hides?
When we created Bonastre, I decided to work using vegetable-tanned leather, in which organic tannins are used in the tanning process. The leather tanning industry generally uses chromium for this, which makes it one of the most contaminating industries! I am proud of my decision to pursue an eco-friendly policy. The hides come from Scandinavia, where they seem to be of a better quality with far less scars and marks, and are tanned in a Belgian facility…it’s all a European thing!
What made you select the particular factory that you utilize in Spain?
I was lucky to be introduced to this workshop, since most of this kind do not deal directly with brands. They’re artisans, rather than sales-minded. The knowledge of traditional leather handcrafting and the high quality standards are what I most value there. I also do the patterning and prototype testing and production at this workshop.
What is the state of artisanal bag/leather goods production in Spain? A return to domestic manufacturing has been much talked about in the U.S., and more recently the U.K., but how about Spain? Is there a similar trend, or has the industry there remained healthy so that the idea of a ‘return’ is superfluous?
The artisanal leather industry is in very good shape in Spain. No crisis there, especially since most of the brands who used to produce offshore from the ’90s onwards are moving back to European production. My customers, especially those in Asia, demand European production and acknowledge its added value.
You have a large following in Europe and Japan, while the market in the U.S. has been slower to catch on. Can you comment on this?
The U.S. market is very much concerned with pricing versus the item itself; presently exchange rates and taxes make European product more expensive. So American buyers usually select European “big brand names” to avoid any risk…though Roztayger thinks it worthwhile to give priority to the product.
Your styling is quite minimal but clearly functionality must be a driving force in a bag or small leather item – how do you arrive at that perfect balance between minimalism and functionality?
Thank you. That’s quite a challenge, I agree. Not to forget the aesthetics, the quality of the leather and workmanship, the trends, the colors, the appropriate price…all is a question of balance and passion! I also have the desire to create things that last, and to make each bag a unique piece.
Your products generally have a well-defined silhouette; almost a “boxiness” as opposed to curvaceousness (you seem to allude to this with the ‘Handbox’ bag). Is there any particular rationale for this, or inspiration?
Well, I like my designs to express a radical purity, voluptuous volumes and a sense of nonchalance.
You recently opened a retail store in Paris. How has that changed or informed how you design now, if at all?
It’s very interesting to hear the views of my retail customers, in contrast to my wholesale clients who generally know “fashion”, and it helps also to understand the needs of “the man/woman on the street”…though that again is a different market. Each market has different expectations, habits and trends.
You’ve described your aesthetic as, “the great architects Oscar Niemeyer and Tadao Ando…in an alternative rock atmosphere”. What is the alternative rock element, and do you listen to this kind of music when working? Can you name a couple of favorite bands?
I need to set myself in a different atmosphere when I create, by listening to the likes of Radiohead, Pink Floyd or maybe M.I.A. Or perhaps a film by David Lynch…
I like to sing too…only in a very private environment though!
You grew up in Spain and you still manufacture in Spain…tell us a bit about how you stay connected to Spanish culture while living and working in Paris.
My family lives in Spain, and my best friends too. I’m very connected to them and my culture, and even Spanish TV, on an everyday basis. I’ve never felt like I was a foreigner in Paris, though.
Online retailer Roztayger is known for its discerningly curated collection of carry and the prize in our giveaway is no exception. Fancy getting your hands on your very own piece of luxury carry courtesy of Roztayger? Well all you have to do is sign up to our newsletters (see below) to be in with a chance of winning this sleek and stylish Bonastre F5 Large Portfolio.
* If you’re already signed up with us, don’t worry, you’re already in the draw 😉
Competition closes: 22nd September.