Handbags are so good at finishing off an outfit or making a statement in their own right, I’ve always been a bit addicted to them. However, since there are so many brands out there, it can be challenging to find one that makes excellent handbags and has ethics at its core. I discovered Classicuir when I searched for sustainable brands after learning that fashion is one of the most wasteful companies in the world. My research on the brand and learning more about its founder led me to interview Priyanka Sethi, Founder, Classicuir.
Congratulations on the launch of your bag line, Classicuir. How did you get started in this industry? What led you to realize you had a passion for bag design? Describe the moment when you decided to become a designer.,
Thank you for giving me this fantastic opportunity; talk about my background; our parent company Saroj International Group has been in the leather industry for more than 55 years, manufacturing and exporting finished world class, Hi fashion leather and garments, and accessories to leading brands the globe. We have three factories in Noida and a vertically integrated tannery in the south of India.
Our bags and accessories division, Saroj International Leather Fashions, has been producing for some of the world’s great brands. While completing my Master’s from HEC, Paris, I realized that all big brands abroad had the best designs but were getting their production outsourced from India. As a result, they are sold very expensively, and that is when we thought of launching our brand where the show will happen in India, and the designs will come from Paris where we have great trend researchers and designers, hence the brand Classicuir.
Do you take part in the production of your bags?
I participate in every process, starting from the raw material selection, leather selection, and finishing and packing. I have a great team, but I’m involved until the goods. I even interact with my clients to know their opinions and feedback. Since it is my company, I like to be involved everywhere.
All of your bags are made of leather? What kind of leather do you use? Are you interested in experimenting with other materials?
Classicuir bags and accessories are made out of genuine leather. All our leathers are a by-product of the meat industry. We are using eco-friendly and biodegradable leather that is vegetable tanned leather; our leathers are natural and don’t have any harmful chemicals that are present in chrome leathers which most brands use in India; vegetable-tanned leather is an expensive leather in comparison to chrome leather, the leathers we use our chrome-free, a step towards sustainable fashion.
Can you describe the kind of woman who carries a Classicuir bag? What is your target market?
Our audience is the modern women who value quality rather than price, who know the actual worth of carrying a genuine leather bag. That’s why our target audience ranges from 28 -55 years of working women, independent women, professionals, homemakers participate; everyone who loves to travel has a household income of min INR 30000 and understands the value of leather. Since our prices are not high or too low, we don’t target the masses and not the luxury segment, but we target the premium category, which has the maximum consumer base in our country. Our average pricing Is INR 4000, easily affordable for an average middle-class household. We don’t want to target the youth as they consider lower prices over quality, and leather or non-leather does not matter to them, but only cheap price points are their buying criteria, so they are not our ideal clientele.
What is your source of creative inspiration? Who is your favorite designer?
We have our design studio in Paris. We have the best trend researchers and fashion designers who constantly work on trends, colors, and design; I don’t have a particular favorite, but yes, I love the Italian leather brands; I love their design and quality and want to replicate them the same.
I believe each bag has a unique story to tell. Have you got a favorite bag? What’s its story?
In our every collection, every piece has a story to it inspired by the French cities; every bag is unique in its detailing and design; I love the weaving collection; it’s not only my favorite but a consumer favorite. The entire Strasbourg weaving collection has done exceptionally well, and the response is overwhelming.
Fashion and design are immediately associated with Italy, New York, or Paris. How do you view the market for designer bags and the overall fashion market in India?
Our products are highly inspired by the trends and designs of Italy and France, the fashion and design hubs. We make sure we follow the latest colors and designs from the west. The fashion industry has changed drastically over the years, the mindsets of people are changing, people are looking to buy a value for money product, with new designs every season, all designer bags are constantly working on their designing, quality, and costing, fast fashion will come to an end soon, and more of sustainable and eco-friendly products will work. In terms of bags, it has a good market, it is an accessory every woman carries, making good budget-friendly products without comprising on quality has a future.
What’s next? Any future projects? Are you going to design bags for men as well? Or do you have some other plans?
As of now, we are online with our website www.classicuir.com. We have tied up with vanilla moon shoes which make leather sandals for women; our bags and accessories are now available in their stores at Dlf Mall of India and South Point Mall, Gurgaon. We will be expanding to more such stores,multi-brand stores, and online marketplaces to reach maximum people. Also, we will be making bags for men shortly. Our expertise is in making bags and all types of leather garments, belts, and other leather goods; we want to explore all these in the coming years. We want to make a leather-oriented store to sell affordable luxury to all.
Why should customers choose Classicuir bags when so many other designer bag brands are available? So why does Classicuir stand out?
That’s correct. There are various brands out there; when we did our market research, we saw many leather bags brand selling above INR 4000 to 5000 going up to INR 20000 quickly, so we, on the other hand, have cut on our margins but have not compromised on the designs, quality and the value we are giving. We want to make leather an affordable luxury to all, so our average pricing is INR 4000 for a good-sized bag. We are not selling on a fixed terms basis, we are open to the size preferences /color preferences of the clients, and they can be made to order as per consumer needs. We are giving a warranty on our leather and the trims, which is an added advantage. We are also providing free shipping pan India, even to the interior parts of India where accessibility is less.
Where is the name Classicuir coming from?
Classic – timeless Cuir -leather in french. Hence timeless leather can be passed to generations.
As you have started your venture in a pandemic, what challenges have you faced so far?
I believe trust is the biggest challenge for any new brand, to build customer trust and retaining them is the biggest challenge for us right now. Reaching out to the right kind of audience is also essential… We have started with our e-commerce platform, so right now, among the fierce competition, we want to build our own family of clients; client satisfaction is our top priority and a challenge. I believe that sustaining in a challenging market will also be a challenge but a lesser for us as we are confident about our products.