10 Questions for The Restory Co Founder Thaís Cipolletta
All Images: The Restory / Aaron Sutton
Aftercare underpins the circular economy, and one company has made it their business to provide a variety of aftercare for handbags, shoes and other leather accessories. We meet Thaís Cipolletta, Co Founder of The Restory.
As keeping our clothes for longer becomes a more recognised way of being a conscious consumer, more mending services have begun to appear. None however, quite compare to The Restory. Specialising in artisan accessories repair, The Restory has singled itself out as the go to for literally any issue you may have with your designer bag, shoes or belts. Did your new puppy chew up your Gucci loafer? No problem. Does the Chanel bag you inherited from Grandma look a bit tired? They’ll make it look better than new. Maybe you want your wedding shoes dyed so you can get more wear out of them? They can do that too.
While these may seem like farfetched tricks, conceived in a magical workshop in a land far away (seriously, they fixed a chewed Gucci loafer!), you would be wrong. We meet the woman behind every specialised technique made famous by The Rectory, Thaís Cipolletta. With a background in design, Thaís joined Co Founders Vanessa Jacobs and Emily John to create a new luxury repair service. With a Service List as long as your arm, there is pretty much nothing that fazes Thaís and her expert Atelier team. Simply book a collection and wait for the magic to happen.
The Vendeur: What is your career background and how did you come to co-found The Restory?
Thaís Cipolletta: My background is in fashion design, having specialised in luxury leather goods here in London, both designing and making. I have always loved exploring different techniques and using them as a base to develop my own, whether in surface design, pattern making and designing new shapes.
When I finished my masters at LCF ( London College of Fashion), I got referred to Vanessa Jacobs, who was starting The Restory and looking for someone to restore luxury handbags. We started with complex handbag stitching and shoe repairs. However with an increased demand for colour restoration, I started developing what are now our techniques. I wasn’t happy with the quality of what was being offered in the market at that point.
TV: The Restory offers an impressive range of repairs and alteration services, how did you develop the various methods for customers and which method are you most proud of developing for the atelier?
TC: All the repairs we developed until now have been created by necessity. Customers couldn’t get their items repaired and these were the orders that made me go beyond to find solutions to help them. It took a lot of research and testing to start with and a team to get to where we are now. We have layers of internal quality approval but ultimately our goal of pleasing the customer with the results has always been the best way of measuring success with techniques. Our team was built to have a problem-solving approach that not only uses our techniques but develop them further. This is my proudest achievement.
TV: How have these services changed and evolved since The Restory began?
TC: Constantly! Our experience with restoring different brands and materials have led us to where we currently are. The first point for us is to sort out our customer’s problems, then develop that technique and improve it to reach as many products as we can. Afterwards, we work on making that technique as efficient as possible.
TV: Why do you think The Restory’s work is so groundbreaking in the industry?
TC: We combine craftsmanship with the power of data and technology whilst still being able to respect the item’s history and connection with the consumer. Our proprietary technology has been built to solve our operational complexities specifically for the aftercare of accessories. The technology began with very simple spreadsheets created by our atelier. These have been developed and built into unique software solutions integral to our business.
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TV: Can you tell us more about your digital database for the atelier?
TC: Over the past 4 years, alongside providing the services we’ve been codifying our knowledge into a rich database. Our database enables us to standardise pricing, such as our quilted flap bag restoration, as well as grow our team.
We have a 9-week training programme that all new artisans go through when we onboard them within our atelier. All the techniques we have developed are stored in our online training platform, together with patterns and colour recipes. This ensures that we all work to the same quality and standard across the team.
TV: What are the more common problems that customers come to you with?
TC: We have such a broad offering of services! Standard shoe repairs like protective soles, toe pieces and re-heeling are common as shoes commonly get worn down with time and use. For handbags, colour restoration and regular cleaning are super popular with our customers.
TV: Do you have any tips for how people can reduce wear and tear on their favourite pieces before they come to you?
TC: The first tip is to buy products of high quality because they will last. We regularly post tips on how to take care of your products and protect them. For example, conditioning your leather from time to time so that it maintains its suppleness and strength. Regular cleaning is also very important.
TV: What sort of techniques do you offer that people would probably have no idea it was possible to do? (For example, repairing holes and shoes chewed by dogs!)
TC: Reconstructing whole parts of an item and re-designing are the main ones. We’ve had bags cut in half and a lot of items eaten by puppies that needed restoring! Super vintage items like 1980’s Louis Vuitton trunks have incredible transformations too. They are a true work of art.
TV: You have recently opened a location at Selfridges and have more partnerships coming up, do you think the demand for your services is growing?
TC: The demand for aftercare services has been there since we launched. It’s been amazing to see the business grow and we are now the official aftercare partner for Farfetch, Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Aftercare underpins the circular economy and is essential, so we expect to see this to grow exponentially.
TV: What do you foresee as the future of the luxury goods industry? Do you think more brands will offer services like The Restory’s?
TC: We have built the operations, technology and capabilities to power aftercare for the fashion industry. I see a future where The Restory has enabled brands, retailers and the secondary market to give their customers access to trusted aftercare worldwide.
The process of repairing an item is completely different to building one from scratch. Our service is built to provide this solution for the industry.
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