Scott Gabrielson, a Fargo South grad and Oxford University alumnus, launched his e-commerce fashion company Oliver Cabell with a bang today. His products, a line of bags hand-stitched in Italy, have already been featured in Fast Company in an article titled, “Oliver Cabell wants to disrupt the luxury fashion market.”
That title says it all; Gabrielson got into fashion after investigating the flaws of the fashion world. He was particularly moved when, in 2013, he heard that the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh had collapsed, killing 1,130 people. It opened his eyes to the reality of the fashion industry, he said. And he saw things needed to change.
At the time Gabrielson, who got his bachelor of science and studied finance, marketing and ceramics at the University of Minnesota, was working in the venture capital world. His work varied from managing an equity hedge fund to managing investments with Education Credit Management Corp (ECMC).
But he left that behind to pursue an MBA at the Said Business School at Oxford University, where he dove into the complexities of the fashion universe. He found that labels are deceiving, and often so-called ‘quality brands’ mask a product made with glue rather than stitching. The ‘Made in Italy’ or ‘Made in France’ aren’t always true either, as it’s possible for companies to take advantage of lower labor costs in Asia and finish off the product in Europe.
“You could do 99 percent of production in Asia and attach a handle in Italy and say it was made in Italy,” said Gabrielson, in an article in the Fargo Forum last year.
With his company Oliver Cabell, Gabrielson hopes to draw the fashion industry back to a higher standard. Today, he is debuting his first two products: a canvas backpack for $240 and duffel bag for $285, both made in Italian factories from start to finish.
The price, too, reflects Gabrielson’s commitment to transparency.
“Designer bags sell for 12x the cost to make,” he writes on the website. “By eliminating unnecessary markups we can provide higher quality goods at a fraction of the price.”
The bags are designed to be simple and gender neutral. They are the first in a line of bags that Gabrielson plans to roll out in the coming months.
“People are not interested in status symbols as they once used to be,” Gabrielson told Fast Company. “We are focused on extremely minimalistic and extremely functional design, with the best quality materials and craftsmanship.”
Read more in Fast Company.
Learn more about Oliver Cabell here.
Feature photo from Facebook. Scott Gabrielson is pictured second from the right.