Heimat Atlántica, from Galician artisanal brand to luxury object of desire worldwide
You would need to travel back in time to the Bronze Age to meet the Celts, the ancient people from which the Portuguese and Galician populations in the north-western corner of the Iberian Peninsula inherited their culture. And with it, a wealth of artisanal know-how that reaches forward to the present, as shown by the iconic handbags that are the hallmark of Heimat Atlántica, the luxury artisanal accessories brand created by Spanish businesswoman Montserrat Álvarez.
The 33-year-old Galician decided to launch her own 'made in Portugal’ fashion accessories brand in 2016, with the aim of “creating a unique community of craft workshops and to try to establish a handmade products industry.” Álvarez based herself in Paris after completing her history of architecture studies at the French capital's Sorbonne University, and later left her post at the renowned Bouroullec brothers’ design studio to concentrate on a 100% made-in-Europe project, with strong roots in Spain’s and Portugal’s Atlantic coast, through which she seeks to “modernize and promote the artisanal expertise of the women's groups from that part of the world.”
To emphasize Heimat Atlántica’s unique character, only 500 units of each handbag model are produced. The brand’s first 'Talisman’ collection of colourful woven handbags, decorated with ceramic talismans by the Sargadelos company (from Lugo, Galicia), earned Heimat Atlántica a presence at Parisian concept store Colette. Last year, Heimat Atlántica launched the 'Shell’ bags, decorated with shells collected by the 'colareiras', the Galician artisan women who specialise in this particular craft. The bags are lined with Ubrique leather and their prices vary between €275 and €498. Recently, the brand launched an exclusive model in collaboration with Japanese label Comme des Garçons, as well as its first jewellery pieces, these too decorated with Atlantic shells.
Heimat Atlántica’s products tap the growing demand for ‘slow’ and sustainable fashion, and it didn’t take long for the brand to attract the attention of leading luxury distributors. For example, that of Lauren Santo Domingo, who heads US website Moda Operandi, and who included Heimat Atlántica in the catalogue shortly after the brand was launched. Since then, Heimat Atlántica boosted its online presence through its own e-store and via Matchesfashion, Shopbop, Wallpaper Store and Vasquiat, an invitation-only website offering the chance of pre-ordering luxury products ahead of their launch.
As far as brick-and-mortar retail is concerned, Heimat Atlántica is available in nine countries: at Barneys in New York, and The Webster in Miami and Los Angeles; at Camargue in Australia; at Super A Market and Dover Street Market Ginza K3 in Tokyo; at On Pedder in Hong Kong; at My Boon and Studio B Stace Mue Galleria in Korea; at Voo in Berlin, Luisa World in Greece and Ma-Condo in Italy, and in Paris at À Rebours, the Galeries Lafayette Foundation - Lafayette Anticipations store, and at Le Bon Marché department store. In addition, Heimat Atlántica is featured at the recently opened Galeries Lafayette flagship on the Champs Elysées in Paris. “We work with a few, select retailers in each market. I would like to preserve the company’s unique nature by making it grow organically,” said Álvarez.
Heimat Atlántica did not disclose its revenue results, and claimed a 50% increase in sales last year. For 2019, its goal is to consolidate its presence in the markets where it currently operates and to grow the online business via its own e-shop, which is being upgraded. Asia, France and the USA are currently the brand’s main markets. Heimat Atlántica expects to broaden its footprint in China and Australia too, and will continue to organise meetings with customers, as it did through a string of pop-up stores in Korea.
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