The luxury pen label’s head speaks to BlackBook about its legacy, experimenting with pop culture designs and his most prized possessions
Originally from Naples, Giuseppe Aquila moved to Bassano del Grappa in 1992 to become a member of luxury pen label Montegrappa’s esteemed legacy. He is credited with creating a vast distribution network in key overseas territories and also for reforming the production value of pens.
In 1995, Montegrappa’s sales increased five-folds from 1992, 95 per cent of which were export sales. From manufacturing only gold nibs and fountain pens, the company today produces a variety of eclectic collectors’ items, including the Ernest Hemingway edition, the Game of Thrones collection, the UEFA Champions League line, the Cigar pen, among others. Aquila tells BlackBook about his journey, and Italian luxury, in his own words.
What makes Italian luxury so distinct is an artisanal tradition that goes back centuries. Think about the Italian Renaissance. Italians have a genetic sense of beauty, which is undeniable.
My journey with Montegrappa has been and continues to be beautiful, full of personal successes and satisfaction, with some bumps along the way. I would describe our brand’s offerings as exclusive handcrafted accessories for the writer and the dapper businessman.
We love experimenting with new designs, materials and manufacturing techniques. The luxury industry has changed and evolved so much lately. A new type of consumer has emerged, one with different interests, background and lifestyle choices than us. Montegrappa enjoys developing new products to cater to this group.
I’m amazed by the way the Indian luxury sector has evolved. However, it is still excessively brand-driven, and has perhaps not reached the level of sophistication where an average consumer chooses a product for its intrinsic quality rather than its recognisability.
A current millennial trend is to enjoy the aesthetic beauty and artistic expression of calligraphy. It’s nice to know that even though the younger generations are deeply entrenched in a digital world, they feel the need to discover the old values and enjoy expressing their personalities.
Luxury to me is an overrated, overused word that should be erased from our dictionaries.
My sartorial style consists of a never-ending selection of suits. All my suits are tailor-made in Naples (Italy), a city with an old sartorial tradition. One may immediately recognise the Neapolitan cut from its wide lapels, patch pockets and deep side vents.
My most prized possession is my collection of pens. I own hundreds, if not thousands of Montegrappa accessories. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be either the 1995 Dragon or the 2000 Vatican pens — not necessarily for their distinct designs, but for memories that are attached with them. I also collect watches, suits, shoes and leather goods.
My most extravagant purchase has been a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.
A day in my life is busy! My daily routine also involves reading books and writing journals. I enjoy spy stories, but on my bookshelf, you’ll find tomes ranging from art to history and travel.
I enjoy eating at family-run restaurants, where meals remind you of eating at a friend or relative’s home on a festive day. I like to try local foods, although I’m not an easy client, since there are a lot of things that I don’t eat (e.g. chicken, pork or mushrooms). The same goes with hotels. I prefer boutique hotels when possible. I tend to go to the same hotels all the time —when I travel, I like to feel at home.
To get a millennial to invest in a Montegrappa pen, I would tell them the story behind the pen they are holding and how it was developed. Each Montegrappa pen is unique in its own right, just like the individual who will eventually own it.