Giving a modern image to a dusty, old-fashioned men’s accessory?
That’s a pretty big challenge for a new brand.
Maybe I wanted to take this on because I don’t come from a typical fashion background – I am an engineer by training and spent the first part of my career in finance, before launching the casual men’s shirts brand Abbie & Rose in 2012.
I’ve always liked and worn braces, probably influenced when I was younger by images from films like Wall Street with slick bankers in their suits and “suspenders”, but it was while chatting with my friends from Le Colonel, a French producer of bowties, that I realised I wanted to give this accessory a new image.
I knew from the start that I didn’t want it to be another trend-led, fast fashion brand. I wanted to become a specialist, to focus on this one product and build real expertise and savoir-faire. I wanted to give braces a modern refresh while being mindful of, and paying tribute to, their rich heritage. Producing locally was also at the core of the brand from its early days, using quality materials that are made to last.
I had no idea when I started out what an adventure this would be. During the past five years we’ve been lucky enough to find people all over the world who love our braces as much as we do, with over 25,000 pairs going across Europe as well as more far-flung destinations including Japan, China, India, Australia, Canada and the US. I also didn’t realise at the very start of the project how quickly it would become a real passion for me, but after 3 years of juggling two projects I made the decision in 2018 to commit my full time and energy to Bertelles. I haven't looked back since!
Behind every successful brand there is a strong team and Bertelles is no different. Pauline and Pauliina work alongside me every day to build our brand (and before you say anything, no, having matching names was not one of the job's requirements…). What I was looking for, though, was people who were crazy and ambitious enough to share my vision of giving a modern edge to this classic and somewhat over-looked accessory.
I’m very proud of what we have achieved so far but we are definitely not finished yet. We are a team of perfectionists and we’re constantly looking for ways to improve the level of quality and craftsmanship of our braces, and innovate while learning from the long and colourful history of the product.
This balance between heritage and modernity is really at the heart of Bertelles and every new collection we develop. So watch this space, there’s a lot more to come in our Bertelles’ journey…