The future of WANDLER
The world is changing and brands have to be more steps ahead of society than ever before. Elza Wandler from the Dutch fashion brand WANDLER, with over 175 retailers around the world, has a realistic vision of the future and wanted to tell me everything about it. Are purchases like luxury bags and shoes still as important as before?
︎︎︎DEMI KOPPENAAL / DESIGN
What is it like to be part of the WANDLER family? At the beginning of 2020, I was honored to do an internship at WANDLER. Back then I had the opportunity to take a close look at this company - how it usually operates and how it has changed during this crisis. Both inspiring if you would ask me. I am curious about how Elza looks back at the past few months and what Wandler's vision is for the future.
A unpredictable yearEven though Elza started the brand in 2017, it has built a tremendous stable foundation in a short period of time. From the beginning of March the world changed overnight, but Elza always stayed positive. “The biggest change we had to make was setting up a new financial plan that responds to corona. Of course we had some concerns, but we were mainly super alert,” she said. WANDLER is seen as a real luxury brand, with bags and shoes up to €700 as a true investment. Not only luxury bags and shoes were reconsidered, consumers were spending money in a different way. “Corona resulted in a shift in attention, from luxury items to health, beauty and sports.” Elza added.
This was also the case at WANDLER. A healthy lifestyle was already important at WANDLER, the team only eats biological and vegetarian food. But Elza also organized private sport classes for her team. “Doing these classes also brought the team closer together. The exercises were individual, but also contained group exercises in which we had to work together in teams, at an appropriate distance.” said by Elza.
From the start of the brand, the social media channels already had an international reach which helped the brand to grow in a short amount of time. But now, there was an opportunity to look even further. While mainly focussing on Europa and the United States, Japan and other cities were also explored for potential influencers that would fit the brand. Elza adds, “Because of the lockdown, some of the tasks such as arranging shoots and everything that goes with it, could not take place and so there was time to focus on other things. Luckily, we were able to prepare shoots that would take place a few months later as planned.”
WANDLER is an international fashion brand, which means that Elza and her team travel the world quite a lot. Always work related – e.g. Fashion Week in Paris or New York but also Italy, to visit the factory or trade fairs in order to stay up to date on trends in leather and techniques. “Everything is different now, normally I would travel every two weeks and now I am not anymore. I think what I have learned from this is that I don't always have to travel for a meeting. In the future I will therefore try to plan my work trips more efficiently.” Elza said.
Beside her team, WANDLER also works with big names in the industry. Also in this part of the brand have been some changes over the past few months. “During shoots we kept our team small and did the styling of the set and the model by ourselves. Sometimes a bit stressful, because for example, at one time when we ordered clothing online, the delivery was not on time. During those moments you need to be able to see possibilities. Luckily in the end, we were able to arrange new styling and the package arrived in the afternoon on the day itself.”
Fashion calendarWe know the classic four seasons, you on the other hand work with 6 collections a year. Can you explain why?
“In essence we also have four, but we divided ours over six deliveries. The idea behind this is that the customer gets to see something new more often.” says Elza. This fits well with the less-is-more philosophy of the current zeitgeist. There is no overkill of products because the items are made after orders have been placed and also the launch has been well thought through. “What is also interesting about this subject is that it is difficult to counterfeit these kinds of products. A copy of a designer piece like a shirt or jeans can still be fashionable, but a fake bag or shoe will never reach that level.” Elza added.
Handmade in Italy and because of the high quality, it has a long life span. “Their craftsmanship is extremely refined and the people who work there are like family. They help us grow. I am at the factory regularly and in this way I can really deliver the best quality to the customer.” said Elza.
The bag which made WANDLER part of the ‘Real Deal’ in business, the 'Hortensia', is a good purchase for a fashionable yet timeless wardrobe. The functional and elegant details are perfectly combined. Playing with a balance between bold expressive colors versus soft tones. Each bag has its own sense of contemporary femininity. Which, of course, can be different for every woman. “For every collection I try to challenge myself and play with finding an equal balance between uber-feminine and clean androgynous.” said by Elza.
“In our opinion as a brand, ‘Less is more’ should also mean that the items you buy are of good quality and we believe that the generation of today is willing to invest in that.” she said.
Changes in retailMany department stores are buying from luxury brands such as WANDLER. Think of Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Browns. “At the beginning of the lockdown we quickly contacted our retailers because we did not want to make products that companies would not be able to afford because customers spend their money in a different way than before. Our productions have become smaller and we delivered less than normal.”
WANDLER also saw changes online. Elza adds, “Yes, a lot is mostly happening online nowadays, that change was already there. We launched our new website in February/March, so that was something positive for us because a lot of people were staying home at that time.” On the website of WANDLER is a wide range of their luxury bags and shoes available. Not everything, because it sometimes happens that bags or shoes are designed for a retailer in particular. “Every retailer buys items that suit their consumer. For example, a shoe with a lot of glitter will sell better in Dubai than in a city like Paris, where they would rather go for a more neutral version.”
According to that, she also adds: “Retailers are important, but when our own webshop is running well, we are not depending on them.” Now and in the past few months companies have been hit hard but WANDLER remains positive. “Everyone wants something exciting and positive in life." It depends on your needs, because you can always choose a designer piece over your holiday. “If you ask us there will always be a need for luxury brands like us.”
The brand is busy with cutting edge strategies for the near future. For now their big changes are kept secret, but knowing Elza and her passionate team, the future will look successful.