You have seen him flex his muscles and enthral the audience with power-packed action sequences. But it may come as a surprise to most fans that ace Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone is a designer as well. The 'Italian Stallion' is associated with Montegrappa, Italy's first luxury writing instruments manufacturer. And, he sketched out the design of the famous Chaos pen for the brand, which was sold as a limited edition of 1,912 pieces, also signifying its year of establishment. The idea occurred to Stallone when he wanted to use the pen in his 2010 blockbuster, The Expendables. However, it made its big screen debut in the sequel, The Expendables 2, distinguished by the skull, sword and snake representations. But this is not Montegrappa's only claim to fame: a few years ago, it sold the world's most expensive pen, which was priced at a whopping $8.5 million. Now the company has set its sights firmly on India and has launched, as a joint venture with Matrix Distributors, two flagship stores in Mumbai and New Delhi.
Gauging the market potential, CEO Giuseppe Aquila is confident about finding the right clientele in the country. “India has a writing culture, which is second to none. People still appreciate writing in spite of all the technological advancements,” he says. “We have been present here for three years and now want to take things to the next level. Opening up our boutiques in Mumbai and Delhi was the next step towards this goal.” Noting that the number of number of people with high disposable income is growing at the rate of 28 per cent every year, he says, “We believe that in the next five years, India could be one of our top five markets globally.”
Currently, the market size of luxury pens is estimated at approximately Rs400 crore, and Aquila is unfazed by competition, with a sea of luxury pen makers flooding the Indian market. “In the writing instruments category, there is one market leader globally, which is Montblanc,” he says. “It is interesting to note that Montegrappa was under the Richemont group for about nine years, and then we bought it back in 2009 because my father and I had always been very passionate about the brand. And we will continue staying independent because that allows us to experiment more with the product and follow our own trajectory. We will not follow any brand and will continue to focus on our core competencies, which are Italian craftsmanship, design and technology.”
Montegrappa was among the first brands to use celluloid and galalith for its pens and, this year at Baselworld, it launched the Q1, a fountain pen made of titanium and leather. Offered in a limited edition of 100 pieces, it is also the first fountain pen that uses four different cartridges simultaneously. Montegrappa is also planning to dedicate a special edition pen to India, paying tribute to either cricket or Bollywood. Aquila says their marketing strategy will not be very different from what they follow in other markets. “We are open to local brand ambassadors but they have to be meaningful, like we had Saif Ali Khan at the Mumbai store launch and writer Javed Akhtar at the Delhi launch,” he says. “These personalities understand the concept of luxury and are a value addition to our brand.”