NEW YORK, United States — Four years after launching its instantly popular line of minimal, sculptural handbags, Mansur Gavriel will reveal its first ready-to-wear collection this September at New York Fashion Week. Co-founders Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel, who won “Accessories Designer of the Year” at the 2016 CFDA Awards, will debut the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection in-season, shifting their presentation model moving forward.
“Creatively, we were always ready,” said Mansur on expanding the label, which introduced footwear last spring, beyond accessories. “We had such fast growth with the bags that we felt that we needed to be operationally prepared. Now the time is right.” The label declined to reveal current revenue, but said sales grew 30 percent year-on-year in 2016.
As for the shift to in-season presentations, Mansur said: “With social media today, the whole system just doesn’t make much sense to us. It also feels much more exciting creatively to share the collection at the same time that it will be offered to the public.” The label has certainly not struggled to maintain consumer interest in the months between collection reveals and drops. Indeed, the strength of its designs, focused brand identity and cautious approach to growth has often left it unable to meet demand. Its signature bucket bag attracted long waiting lists at the peak of its popularity in 2014 and 2015.
Mansur Gavriel also plans to extend the lease on its temporary retail space on Wooster Street in New York’s Soho, which the label opened as a pop-up in November. “We have a large variety of product that we can only merchandise together in that space, and I think we’re very happy that we finally have the chance to do it in the way that we feel is very on brand,” explained Gavriel.
“I think it really gives a glimpse of how we hope to grow in the future,” added Mansur. For four weeks in February, the designers will temporarily transform the Wooster Street space into a special installation featuring their Spring 2017 collection. “We love creating immersive environments,” said Mansur.
In order to prepare for the addition of ready-to-wear, Mansur and Gavriel have expanded their team to a total of about 30 people. They hired designers for the first time at the end of 2016 and have otherwise focused on filling the company's operations and production teams. The growth is significant considering they did not hire anyone for the first two years.
“It’s definitely a challenge to go from being just the two of us deciding everything very quickly and intuitively to learning how each department actually functions and how to still be very efficient and quick with our day-to-day decisions,” said Gavriel. “We are hiring very specialised people for each department and are overseeing them and learning from their knowledge as well.”
But the duo, who have thus far self-funded the growth of their label, batted away the idea of raising external investment to fuel expansion. “We are not interested in outside investment at this time,” said Mansur. “We like to go at a pace that we can manage.”