Albert Lacreu is a fully-qualified technical architect and self-taught master leather craftsman who fiercely defends the independent sector. His stance on the luxury fashion market is clear:
"Personally, I feel that these large brands do not produce articles of the same quality as those made by independent creators. When you buy a product from them, you pay a huge amount to cover their marketing and other costs, and not necessarily towards the use of quality materials."
A strong believer in the incomparable character and "soul", as he describes it, of handcrafted items, Lacreu's pieces are a reflection of his passion for personalised and minimalist design.
From architecture to craftsmanship
Based in Benifairó de les Valls, a small town in Valencia, Spain, Lacreu has spent years honing his unique methods of meticulous design and production.
He has gradually adapted and fine-tuned the skills which he acquired and developed during his architecture studies, such as a flair for highly detailed sketching and dimensioning.
"I've been self-taught over several years. It's involved in-depth research and a lot of trial and error to devise exclusive techniques which allow me to apply several architectural principles in my leatherwork."
Lacreu takes immense pride in his craftsmanship, and his rigorous standards are reflected in the intricate pieces he produces.
"When I design, whether architecture or leather articles, my focus is always on detail. On a large scale, details tend to disappear, making creations more impersonal. It's completely different on a smaller scale, because everything can be carefully controlled," he explains.
The intricacies of Albert Lacreu's accessories include a subtle "A" ― for "Albert" ― embossed onto each piece, and individual series numbers on their insides. When his items call for the incorporation of press studs and zips, he only works with those designed by the Japanese brand YKK, generally considered the world's best zippers.
Although he outsources studs and zips, he prefers to design his own stainless-steel rings. In this way, he is able to ensure that they fit in perfectly with his overall vision for each individual creation, such as the pieces in his current wallet and key chain lines.
A personalised finish
For his stitching, Lacreu uses French linen thread: "Fil au Chinois Lin Câblé is a strong and durable French waxed linen thread, expressly designed for the production of leather items. It is what the most exclusive brands of leather goods use, and its soft and shiny finish adds to the unique character of my accessories."
Although the designer started out machine stitching, he soon began to hand-stitch his pieces. This decision is in line with his brand's unique balance between simplicity and personality.
"Machine stitching gives an impersonal result, with no soul or character. Hand-stitching may be costlier, but it's definitely worthwhile because of its incomparable precision and the personalised finish it provides."
To ensure the longevity and quality of his accessories, Lacreu chooses to work with full-grain Italian vegetable-tanned leather.
The Tuscan Vacchetta has always felt like the natural choice for his designs because of its soft and delicate texture, and outstanding quality.
"When the leather I use is new, it shines with strikingly warm colours. Over time, it ages, but doesn't deteriorate whatsoever; it remains alive, becoming transformed and adapting to the use it is given," he says.
Form meets function
Perhaps a reflection of his architectural roots, practicality is one of Albert Lacreu's core brand values. During the design process, he makes a prototype of every single item, using the same leather as for the final product.
This means that the dimensions and shapes can be adjusted and defined to the last millimetre, always keeping in mind the practical needs of the customer. He elaborates, "An aesthetically pleasing accessory is of no use if it doesn't fulfil the functional expectations of its owner."
The designer's passion for balancing form and function means that he is constantly experimenting and working on new designs.
He admits that he is "always immersed in the creative process," and is committed to spending as much time as is required for his work to be perfected: "It takes a long time to finalise an article to be manufactured."
Lacreu feels that his customers are able to look beyond a luxury fashion label and truly appreciate the attention to detail and individualised care he offers: "My customers love and value well-made pieces with fine details; they are looking for top quality design and craftsmanship, and not just the stamp of a luxury fashion brand logo."