By  on May 20, 2013

PARIS — Moynat, the 19th-century trunk maker Bernard Arnault revived in late 2011 as a luxury leather goods brand, is making its first expansion volley.

On July 8, Moynat plans to open a 250-square-foot temporary boutique at Galeries Lafayette, demarcated by an undulating cage of russet-colored metal echoing the curves of an early limousine trunk.

After a six-month stint, the installation is to travel to other fashion capitals, echoing the “caravan” approach Moynat employed more than a century ago, when it showcased its innovations at world’s fairs and early auto shows.

“This was one of the only marketing tools at that time,” said Moynat chief executive officer Guillaume Davin, leafing through a 1914 catalogue showing such products as a footrest trunk incorporating a buffet, priced at 450 French francs.

Keeping the tradition alive, Moynat plans to unveil a new handbag that resembles a limousine trunk, which it will display alongside its trio of bestsellers: the Pauline, Quattro and Réjane bags, the latter named after French theater actress Gabrielle Réjane.

Davin noted that the Belle Epoque star toted Moynat bags onstage as early as 1880, and that the house anointed a style with her name in 1895, unusual at a time when bags carried perfunctory, descriptive names.

Moynat is to lease the space for the temporary unit, situated on the French department store’s new luxury floor nearby stands for Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. The display will include a tight selection of bags and small leather goods for sale, along with an exhibition of vintage trunks and a bespoke bicycle.

It’s the brand’s first exposure beyond its 2,150-square-foot boutique at 348 Rue Saint-Honoré, and a vehicle to tap into the tourist flows stores like Galeries Lafayette attract.

About 60 percent of clients at Moynat’s flagship are from Asia — mostly Japan, Korea, Singapore and Southeast Asian nations — with another 20 percent from America and the balance from Europe, including France, Davin said.

He declined to divulge sales figures, but said the business is going “well” and that Moynat is opening a second, six-person atelier in the Drôme region of France, a complement to a similar-size workshop in Burgundy.

“We are gradually building our capacity,” Davin said, noting it takes at least two days to assemble, stitch and finish one of its structured women’s handbags. Retail prices start at 600 euros, or $770, for a canvas tote, with leather day bags running from 1,700 euros to 4,200 euros, or about $2,190 to $5,410 at current exchange. Paradis bags in crocodile are 20,000 euros, or $25,760.

Davin noted that Moynat is also eyeing boutique openings in key cities, at its own pace.

“We really want to preserve the exclusivity, that hidden factor,” he said. “The clients we have here are quite independent minded.”

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