Five minutes with Neal Fox
Written by Gregg Henglein
Restoring a revered brand to prominence is a tall order. But that’s just what Neal Fox has done since shouldering the load to bring the famed Mark Cross handbag back from extinction to Qatar. Available at Fifty One East and now at Per Lei Couture Boutique.
How did your prior experiences prepare you for the Mark Cross journey?
Having spent my career in the luxury retail arena, I was first exposed to the Mark Cross brand as a competitor. As a retailer shopping in the world of luxury goods, I have been on a ‘quest for the best’.
Were there any special considerations you had to take into account when bringing back the storied Mark Cross brand?
Outside of dealing with the typical obstacles that every start-up company faces (funding, etc.), we felt that the end product had to be compatible with the legacy of the brand, keeping the focus on quality and craftsmanship.
What drew you to the brand itself?
The commitment to quality and excellence, along with the brand’s rich heritage and history. I had the opportunity to see some of the handbags and small leather goods factories in Italy that supplied Mark Cross at an earlier time in my life and that left an indelible impression in my mind of the brand’s focus on producing products of esteemed quality.
Do you believe people are drawn to the same things in a Mark Cross bag as they always have been, or has there had to be a degree of adaptability to the ‘modern’ customer?
I strongly believe that our success today revolves around the ability to maintain the DNA of the brand, while adapting that DNA to project a strong appeal to today’s customer. Today’s customer wants an innovative, luxurious product from a brand that pays attention to detail and values proper craftsmanship.
Which is more difficult, blending ‘classic’ and ‘modern’ effectively or innovating something completely different?
There is no doubt in my mind that blending ‘classic’ with ‘modern’ and turning it into ‘timeless style with punch’ is much more difficult than innovating something completely different! It is important to keep the brand fresh, without losing the historic charm.
What is one luxury item you can’t travel without?
My Ralph Lauren Gold Stirrup watch and my Mark Cross Envoy Folio. It is the perfect size for travel and keeps all of my documents neat and organised.
What is your most memorable travel experience that you would recommend to others?
Dining outside under a sky filled with stars at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Is there a destination you haven’t been to yet but wish to visit?
I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the UAE or Qatar. I look forward to visiting both in the near future as they are such important regions for our business.