Supplier Spotlight: Aqpel
Aqpel was founded in Tona, near the city of Barcelona, where it currently runs its vertically-integrated operation. The company is run by a small but dedicated team of employees who believe fusing history, tradition and innovation leads to success. Historically, Spain has played a key role in fur production and fur trading since the 15th century. Combine centuries of expertise with the latest technologies and ideas, and you get a company that has quickly established itself as a staple in the luxury rabbit fur market.
"The Aqpel team comes from a large tradition in the leather and fur industry," explains Montse Serra Vilà, the company's Export Manager. "We took the opportunity to fill in a market gap and we took advantage of our acquired 'know how' to avoid [fur production] to die or disappear from our country".
Indeed, Aqpel emphasizes on keeping all aspects of production close to home and in turn, helps keep the fur industry thriving in its home country. The company uses only 100% Spanish-origin raw rabbit skins, which it sources from the best slaughterhouses with which it has close, established relationships.
"We use raw skins coming from slaughterhouses which could certify animal welfare as well as good practices," Serra assures. "We have all the traceability of our products so we can always certify we, and our suppliers, deal with all updated regulations in all fields - from the initial raw skins to the ready finished product."
To ensure its furs are as sustainable as possible, Aqpel only buy skins coming from the meat chain supply -- effectively, byproducts of the meat industry.
"It is important to notice that if we, or companies like us, would not take advantage of these skins, it would mean a huge waste which will provoke a serious environmental issue," Serra explains.
Back at the factory, the 'local-made' feel of Aqpel continues to ring true in all its products. From unique animal prints and designs to electric colors like mustard yellow and deep, royal blue, the company produces all its rabbit furs in-house, strictly controlling all processes from start to finish. Each year, it develops a new collection based on the latest fashion trends, with more than new 50 articles proudly bearing the 'Made in Barcelona' label.
The company innovates far beyond its color offerings. Perhaps Aqpel's best asset is its use of the latest technologies and machinery, much of which it creates itself. This serves not only to bring something unique to the market, but to allow the company to reach exclusivity among its competitors. Recently, the company developed a new automatic printing machine, designed and built by its own engineering team to fulfill customers’ and markets’ needs in terms of exclusivity, production speed, quality and service. Aqpel also created a new laser machine with which it can customize all types of designs, from a logo to intricate artwork, playing with different hair lengths and degrade effects.
"We are in love with all articles we produce and all techniques we use to reach special and different effects, from the standard animal prints which are always in fashion to special and exotic cutting designs combined with colored top hair effects," says Serra. "We are still developing to always offer the trendiest and most innovative product range."
Aqpel's rabbit furs are gaining worldwide recognition, used in luxury apparel as well as footwear, accessories, and interior decor by medium to high class fashion labels in European markets such as Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Finland as well as by international markets like the United States and some Asiatic countries. With no plans of slowing down, Aqpel continues to innovate with new designs and new technologies to please its customers.
"Our daily challenge and the most important one for us is to reach the fidelity of our customers around the world to not only be their supplier but also their collaborator for all they could need in rabbit fur," explains Serra. "We keep investing in new and exclusive machinery and production processes designed by ourselves to reach a high level of exclusivity and innovation so our customers would always feel safe and secure with us, in terms of both fashion trends and production issues."