oliver cabell founder scott gabrielson

Fargo Fashion | Oliver Cabell

oliver cabell founder scott gabrielson
Scott Gabrielson, founder of Oliver Cabell, explains how his company differs from traditional luxury brands.

Oliver Cabell is a new fashion brand creating designer quality travel bags for a fraction of the price, giving big names like Prada, Chanel and Louis Vuitton a run for their money.

And they’re not cutting any corners to keep costs down either. Founder Scott Gabrielson explained that the company’s pricing model is based on reducing the amount of markups a product goes through to keep costs down and implementing an honest profit margin to give customers a fair price.

On a visit to a factory in China, Gabrielson observed travel bags being made cheaply and then sold at huge markups.

“We saw workers making $6 a day, and these products were being made for less than $100 and selling down the road for $1,200,” he said.

This observation sparked his curiosity and eventually led him to create a brand that handles sourcing and pricing differently. With most traditional fashion brands, there is a multiplier effect that raises product cost, adding more markups with each step. Sourcing agents, contracted factories, store rent, advertising and a markup by retailers all add to costs for traditional luxury brands.

Oliver Cabell is taking a simpler approach.

“We decided to design everything in house. We work directly with our factories, and we’re going to sell directly to the consumer,” Gabrielson said.

They are also relying solely on word-of-mouth and press to spread brand awareness instead of putting money into marketing and advertising, which can make up 15-20 percent of large fashion brands’ costs. Eliminating these markups allows Oliver Cabell to give their customers a high quality product without the designer price tag.

While other high-end accessory brands keep their sourcing and pricing secretive and mysterious, Oliver Cabell chooses to be honest and transparent with consumers, letting them know exactly what costs went into each product.

“Our goal is to hopefully represent that well from the beginning, and then other industries and companies and brands start to realize the same and follow suit,” Gabrielson said. “It doesn’t really matter what industry you’re looking at. When consumers can get closer to the product, it really doesn’t hurt anyone.”

The Oliver Cabell team found that by using a smaller markup of 2.25, they could give their customers a minimal price while making sure their business was sustainable in the long term. So instead of paying over $1,000 for a bag that cost $100 to make, its customers will be paying around $225. That way, travelers get to have a superior product without using up their entire vacation budget.

Oliver Cabell’s debut product line will consist of gender neutral carry-on bags, backpacks, totes and other travel essentials targeted toward millennials. They use a combination of high quality leather and canvas. The canvas makes the bags lighter and more durable, while giving them an aesthetic that is distinct from all-leather designs. The bags, which are designed in Europe, are minimalistic and timeless. They are inspired by a mixture of influences from streetwear to traditional luxury. In the future, the Oliver Cabell team plans to expand into a wider variety of products including those geared specifically towards men or women such as handbags.

The bags are currently in production in Italy, but they will be available for purchase at www.olivercabell.com in March. The company is using a referral system to spread the word and give customers early access to their products. Interested customers can now sign up for emails, and those who have referred at least one other person will get a preview of the product line before it is available for sale.

Those who have referred three friends will get exclusive early access to the products for a few weeks in March before the website goes live to the public. When it does, buying designer accessories will go from being purely aspirational to brilliantly attainable.

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