"Most luxury brands have become multinational chains that no longer offer something truly unique or rare” – says Matt Conable, founder and creative engine of William Henry. “For many of these companies, exclusivity is defined predominantly by price and status, and not so much by originality or by the limited availability of their offerings”.
We can define exclusivity as the sensation of being on a summit, surrounded by a small and select number of peers, and gazing at the world from a more advantageous and inaccessible position.
However, as much as money will always be one of its main components, the concept of exclusivity has also nobler and more sophisticated underpinnings: personality and style, culture, good taste, and personal connections have always been equally relevant ingredients.
But is this broadly accepted definition as encompassing as it might have been 25 years ago?
Money plays the main role today, and there’s not much room left for unique personalities, original tastes, and individual innovation.
”I think of luxury as exotic, rare, precious, and timeless" - says Matt Conable. "The status is conferred by the quality of the product and what it says about the owner, as opposed to the current model where status is conferred by ‘brand ambassadors’ and massive advertising budgets”.
Conable founded William Henry in 1997. He established the brand creating distinctive and award-winning pocketknives, effectively transforming the archetype of all tools into a superb piece of functional jewelry. Today’s collections include writing instruments, money clips, golf tools, and William Henry has become one of the most exclusive and admired brands in the often overlooked world of luxury for men.
But what makes this brand so distinctive is that it has proudly retained the aura and feel of an artisan workshop, where every piece is designed and created exclusively in small, limited, often unique editions. The character of the artistry and the personality of the materials make this brand’s every creation truly unique. No two pieces are alike.
“For many premium watch brands, an edition of 1000 numbered pieces might be an ‘exclusive’ offering", says Conable. "At William Henry, that would be the largest and least exclusive offering in our history.”
In the past century, movie stars and royals played a fundamental role in propelling to fame brands like Bulgari or Cartier. It’s not surprising that today’s search for exclusivity is brought forth by personalities and individuals that interpret style and luxury as a means to affirm their distinctive personality, where choosing truly unique creations is just as important as their intrinsic value.
Conable: “I like the idea that William Henry’s creations strike a personal chord in our clients. Every now and then, it is important to invest in objects that are personal, immediately useful, yet timeless in their appeal and relevance – these rare pieces are imbued with the personality of their owners, and become part of their living legacy”.
William Henry’s customers include Hollywood stars, musicians, royalty and heads of state. Their collections are sold on their website and through a select group of authorized independent retailers in the US and abroad.
Understanding the thin line that separates fashionable from exclusive is an important challenge for most luxury brands. It describes the difference between the concepts of timeless and ephemeral, character and trend, and it defines the universally gratifying feeling of possessing a truly unique personality.
Exclusivity is possible today as it was 100 years ago. You just need to know where to look, and approach your choices with the right mindset. As Matt Conable puts it: “Exclusivity is about being you, not being like someone else”.