Design / Luxury

Maison de Luxe

Maison Takuya founder and  creative director, François Russo

Maison Takuya founder and creative director, François Russo

You probably haven’t heard of Maison Takuya before. That’s a good thing. A well guarded secret amongst connoisseurs, this small artisanal luxury leather goods company can barely keep up with the demand from clients as it is.

As luxury (or whatever is mostly masquerading as luxury) is losing its lustre, with branded ‘it’ handbags as accessible and prevalent as Hello Kitty souvenirs in convenience stores, discerning consumers are beginning to look for more. “You need the very unique pieces, not just a logo,” stated PPR CEO François-Henri Pinault in a recent FT article on luxury. But exclusivity isn’t enough if quality is compromised. Far too many times I have brought home ‘luxury’ brand shoes, bags, you name it, that barely made it through a few outings before I had to awkwardly return it to the shop. Only to encounter denial and bad service to top it all off. I may as well have gone to Shenzhen.

Fortunately there are high-end brands that remain loyal to true luxury values — craftsmanship, quality, uniqueness. Hermès has remained steadfast in its commitment to deliver uncompromising quality from the outset. And it’s paid off. The company’s profitability and sales steadily increase, while many are experiencing a downturn. Only four years old, Maison Takuya has also made it its mission to deliver nothing but the best.

Frustrated by the disappointing decline in quality of many European luxury brands, French-born François Russo decided to set up shop in Thailand — the new Italy of Asia, as he refers to it — and established Maison Takuya. With a background in interior design (he was the creative partner of French design diva Andree Putman) and advisor to former Chanel artistic director Jacques Helleu, Russo wanted to “combine the DNA and know-how of European and Asian traditional luxury leather craftsmanship with ultra high quality and a contemporary design philosophy.” Fusing modern design with a high level of craftsmanship (increasingly prohibitive for brands concerned only with the bottom line), Russo has created a new player on the luxury market. With very high standards.

Where production of many leather goods from high-end luxury brands today is largely industrial and mass-produced, Maison Takuya insists on handmade production from start to finish. Everything is done in-house by trained Asian and European craftsmen at the brand’s Chiang Mai studio, which is under the supervision of a former Hermès workshop executive. The stitching and attention to detail on all its products — from specially made handbags to phone covers — is impeccable.

Using the best German, Japanese, French and Italian tanneries, Maison Takuya has a selection of leathers on offer including alligator, crocodile (supplied by Hermès Cuirs Precieux), ostrich, snake, goat and calf skins. Each skin is put through a rigourous selection and testing process to ensure that it meets the brands exacting demands — even a slightly blemished skin is rejected.

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I love the simple understated design and clean lines that form the underlying aesthetic of the company.
There is no superfluous embellishment. Instead the focus is on style, quality and function. And thankfully, there is no branding, save for a discreetly placed stamp marking on the leather products — Maison Takuya is about the product not a brand image. Frankly, if I’m going to be a walking billboard for another brand, I’d rather not have to be the one paying for it.

These aren’t accessories that follow the tide of fashion and trends. They’re investment pieces. Russo emphasises, “We do not want you to feel you have to change your bag every season. Developing a model can take us over 6 months, producing one single piece over two weeks, so we would rather have you keep it over a lifetime, and pass it on to the next generation together with all its memories”.

The company offers bespoke service on all its products in your choice of leather and colours, as well as specially commissioned products such as perfume pouches, made-to-measure pen cases, leather boxes, watch straps … you name it.

Handsome hubs surprised me with a stash of Christmas goodies from Maison Takuya in my choice of customised butter soft leather and colours (red and black, of course). Absolutely thrilled! It’s always so much nicer to be able to touch, hold, and carry something crafted by a pair of skilled hands rather than a machine, an object that took time and care, and will last long enough to have a string of stories attached to it.

Take a look at the Maison Takuya collections at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, and Bon Marché or Colette in Paris, or check it out online at: www.maisontakuya.com

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