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Photo Courtesy of Kipling

Monkeying around might not be advised in most businesses, but for Kipling it is a way of life. The accessories brand, specializing in handbags, backpacks and totes, was built upon the pillars of playfulness, adventurism and dynamism.

Monkeys are symbols of fun and adventure, so the monkey naturally became the brand's mascot. And not very much later, it became the monkey key ring. Every Kipling monkey is named after an employee from somewhere around the world. Every collection has its own unique monkey! The monkey has definitely become a collector's item for anyone who is fun-loving and young at heart, Kipling describes on its website.

Founded in 1987, with a name inspired by Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, Kipling has evolved into a brand that caters to a range of lifestyles -- from outdoorsmen to scholars to carefree sprites.  

Kipling is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012 with a brand that is more developed and diverse than ever before, well prepared to conquer another 25 years ahead. The brand unveiled its Classics Collection, a line of re-editions of some of Kipling's most famous vintage bags adapted with today's styles in mind, bursting with the season's stunning shades of tangerine and electric blue. 

The 'Fundamental' backpack is more than a backpack; it's a bag worthy of a revival, for the woman who wants to mix fashion with function to fit her everyday life, says Anne Nearman,Marketing Director of Kipling regarding Kipling's Classic Collection. The Art M is a take everywhere tote worthy of all your essentials and not-so-essentials. The Creativity is a playful mini accessory with hidden pouches perfect for the important little items. The classic spirit isn't complete without the Siras duffle bag -- its washed-out effect and large duffle shape make imperfect for those reminiscent sporty moments this Spring/Summer. 

Kipling U.S. celebrated the anniversary on March 5 at Helen Mills NYC with renowned photographers Paul Graves, Vincent Gapaillard, Rankin and Alex Salinas, with the international clout of Sarah Illenberger of Germany, Javier Mariscal of Spain, Li Wei of China and Prince Lauder of Mexico. 

To kick off our 25th anniversary, Kipling brought together our iconic styles, along with artists from around the world to have fun and create art with the playful imaginative, inviting and clever spirit of the brand in mind, said Julie Dimperio, president of Kipling.  

Julie Dimperio caught up with IBTimes Fashion & Life and revealed just how the brand has evolved over the past 25 years while remaining steadfast to the spirit that is Kipling.

Kipling is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Can you recap the past two and a half decades, detailing how the brand has morphed into what it is today?

The happy accident was what happened when our founders 3 enterprising Belgian designers (Vincent Haverbeke, Xavier Kegels and Paul Van De Velde) dared to be different and decided it was time to shake up the conventional bag world! On their search to do so, a misstep happened with a malfunctioning loom that pulled the material and later became the signature Kipling look , as, one afternoon; brightly colored nylon got caught and crinkled in the bag-making process. This misstep led to the creation of that recognizable Kipling look we know and love today and took this accident and turned it into a major success by introducing Kipling bags to consumers!

How did the Kipling name come to fruition, with the iconic monkey mascot?

It was their admiration and fondness for Rudyard Kipling that inspired them to name the brand after the world renowned author. A favorite The Jungle book heralds  the monkey as the playful and adventuresome character which  was the perfect brand mascot since that embodies the spirit of our brand.

What is Kipling's current span?

Our brand reaches beyond 67 countries and has over 250 Kipling stores worldwide.   Currently we focus our lifestyle brand across 5 product categories; handbags, totes/messengers, backpacks luggage and accessories   while each category is chock full of multiple styles, colors, textures and prints.

How do you see Kipling developing in the next five, 10, 15 years?

We will continue to expand our brand by extending even further  into a lifestyle bag and accessory brand.

What is the main focus for the brand right now?

In being a relatively small yet with a huge growth opportunity one of our main focuses is to increase our brand awareness through customer engagement. We will continue to do that through  digital media channels in an effort to build an even stronger and engaged online community.

How have you seen the retail industry transform from when you first started to 2012, aside from the technological revolution?

First and foremost the market place has exploded and now provides consumers with even more choices than ever before!  The definition of a global brand has evolved to the point that the one time dominant or more established countries have had to share growth with more emerging markets such as Asia. There was also a significant shift and consolidation within the Department store channel, but also a shift between affordable retail and high end retail along with shifts over to the specialty store channel.  Lastly In this time period we have also watched the consumer break through profiles and shop across channels and price points so no longer being categorized as a specific shopper type.

What could have been different if Kipling was founded in 2012?

Our Direct to Consumer strategy would have been  more of a primary focus

As an international business, what are some of the major predicaments that a company faces in terms of marketing, strategy, company climate, et cetera?

To be able to successfully and seamlessly meet the needs of consumers on a geographical and cultural level with the goal of providing lifestyle essentials that are aligned with their preferences.  Although there are similarities, differences surface in color, prints, size and even regulatory needs.

Developing an enduring, reliable brand is difficult. What values has Kipling held steadfast?

Our values have been long lasting and we believe strongly that we provide a great point of entry into our key categories, and stand for quality, clever functionality, lightweight products that are versatile, and of course make everyone happy!

What advice do you have for those starting out in small businesses looking to promote growth?

Select retail and financial partners carefully and wisely. Be patient it takes time and focus to build a successful business. 

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Photo Courtesy of Kipling