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Manu Atelier Expands Into Footwear

The Turkish handbag label, known for its geometric designs, is launching footwear in October and will present the collection during Paris Fashion Week.
Manu Atelier founders Merve and Beste Manastir | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Kati Chitrakorn

ISTANBUL, Turkey — When Merve and Beste Manastir launched their accessories brand Manu Atelier in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, they never imagined the label would become an overnight sensation. But Eva Chen's post of the 'Pristine' bag that same summer caused them to become exactly that. The former editor of Lucky Magazine turned Instagram's head of fashion partnerships influenced retailers from Selfridges to Net-a-Porter to begin stocking the bag, where it sold out instantly.

Now, the designers — who are daughters of a Turkish leather craftsman — are expanding into footwear. “I’m obsessed with proportions and I believe that footwear plays an important role in creating the full look and how your proportions look,” Merve told BoF, explaining their decision to launch footwear. “We thought that as we are always seeking for ourselves the right kind of shoe, why are we not putting it into our own collection?” “It helps to complete [the vision of] the ideal person in our minds,” added Beste.

Sketches of Manu Atelier's footwear range | Source: Courtesy

The footwear collection, which took two years to develop, consists of boot styles as well as flat and small-heeled shoes. Priced between €250 to €600, they will be made from the same materials as the brand’s handbags, although production will be outsourced. The shoes will launch in late October on Manu Atelier’s e-commerce site. The designers said they are in conversations with existing stockists to determine a launch partner in addition to their own shop. The brand will also host a presentation for the first time during Paris Fashion Week in October.

Founded in 2014, Manu Atelier reported retail sales of $800,000 and revenue of just below $400,000 in its first one-and-a-half year of operations. The brand recorded €5 million (about $5.8 million) in global sales in 2017, more than doubling its growth — 220 percent — from the year prior. Today, direct retail (which includes the brand’s showroom and online shop) accounts for 40 percent of the business, while wholesale is 60 percent.

The label is part of a wave of buzzy accessories brands like Mansur Gavriel, Wandler and Danse Lente, which have become popular for their sculptural shapes and offbeat touches, and were among Net-a-Porter's top 10 best-performing brands in the contemporary bag category for Spring/Summer 2018.

The duo, who have thus far self-funded the growth of their label, now lead a team of 60 (40 in production, 20 in head office) and have signed on seven new stockists this year in Los Angeles, Italy, France, Beijing and Shanghai. “One of our main aims this year is increase international retail and website sales. UK and Asia are our priority, but we also want to expand our retail presence in the US,” said Beste.

Sketches of Manu Atelier's footwear range | Source: Courtesy

Sketches of Manu Atelier's footwear range | Source: Courtesy

Sketches of Manu Atelier's footwear range | Source: Courtesy

Sketches of Manu Atelier's footwear range | Source: Courtesy

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