There is neither an emblematic logo nor an interlocking alphabet in sight. There isn't a signature colour or motif that gives it away, or a shimmering clasp or lock that draws the eye. Yet the white leather suitcase has an aura of quiet distinction known to a few who immediately recognise its patented leather and fine piping and think, "Ah, it's a Valextra." In an oversaturated designer market, the cacophony of luxury brands may be well orchestrated, yet here's a 77-year-old Milanese brand (founded in 1937 by Giovanni Fontana in Milan's Piazza San Babila) that connoisseurs quietly admire. Those in the know are familiar with signature pieces such as Valextra's two-gusset briefcase or Bifold card case with money clip, or the Brera messenger bag in its effortless simplicity and sophistication. Carried by actress Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the past and sported by Jennifer Aniston and Katie Holmes today, these accessories have always flown under the fashion radar. "Well, there are a few emblems in our bag that make it distinctive, even though it is subtle," says Alessandra Bettari, the brand's newly appointed chief executive officer. Accompanying her is Marco Scarpella, the youngest member of the board from the Carminati family, who own a large share of the company. He echoes Bettari's claims. "We just carry our heritage that has been honed since the 1940s." Bettari says Valextra's products are "very niche" and have "a different aesthetic" from others. "It's evident in something like our Costa luggage collection - perhaps our most iconic product - with details in the piping by artisans in Italy," she says. "We don't come out with multiple products each year, merely a range of colours with very specific types of leather. It's very straightforward and simple." With meticulously stitched seams and rich flushes of vegetable-tanned leather, it's bespoke luxury that's more pragmatic and less flashy. But how is the label faring in brand-conscious Asia? "The Asian customer is the best in the world," says Scarpella. "And the worst!" interrupts Bettari, jokingly. "In America and Europe, they see something they like, they buy it. It's simple," says Scarpella. "Customers in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, there's a level of perfection they expect from a product, in every single detail. If a stitch is off, if there's a minute differentiation in tone or hue, they want it fixed. I've learned this after years of working in Asia, they are looking for an extraordinary item only a few can make - absolute luxury." Bettari confirms. "Asian customers have the highest rate of asking for special and bespoke pieces. Asia is the only place where they would ask us to create, say, a leather pen case." Absolutely luxury can sometimes seem excessive. For example, Oprah Winfrey owns an exquisitely cut travel case crafted from white leather, which Scarpella concedes is impractical. "To some, a white leather travel suitcase is completely impractical," he says. "Think how easily a white suitcase can get dirty at airports, but then again, Oprah probably only flies on private jets so it's different for her." Valextra tries to find the balance in achieving luxury while being pragmatic. "We use stiff leather, and we craft it specifically for travel," Scarpella says. "Four seasons ago, we introduced the 'cavale', a line of leather that featured scratch resistance and is virtually impossible to break. It was like a bulletproof vest for your suitcase." It's all about aesthetic and performance, Bettari says. "Being functional and practical is important. It's not just about the design," she says. "I've cleaned some of my cases with the same products I use for skincare - one of my bags is taken care of better than my own skin!" Jokes aside, do the jetsetters and big spenders in Hong Kong really have the patience to pay attention to the intricate differences of refined leather that can cost anywhere between HK$5,000 and HK$80,000? With a knowing grin that he can barely suppress, Scarpella tells the story of a particular customer in Hong Kong. "She rings me at least once or twice a month and she would request a particular crocodile skin or palette for her accessories. Sometimes in gold, sometimes in pink. She's very particular and is an expert in this field. She knows every single grade and quality. If she doesn't like something - she'll ask me for a discount - and she's a billionaire! So yes, she and others here definitely understand the product, no doubt." So is this what luxury is today, scrupulous care for one's bags and shoes? For the new-age Scarpella, it's simple. "The meaning of 'luxury' has seen a lot of changes in the past 10 years in Asia -it used to just mean 'expensive'. Now, luxury is a very well-kept secret that is recognisable by just the eyes of a select few."