Mulberry Tests Men’s Wear Store

Mulberry is expanding its men’s wear offering with a new stand-alone boutique on Floral Street in Covent Garden.

LONDON — Mulberry is expanding its men’s wear offering with a new stand-alone boutique on Floral Street in Covent Garden.

The 300-square-foot store, which opened at the end of November, is the first Mulberry store dedicated solely to men’s wear, and will serve as a testing ground for further expansion in the sector, said Lisa Montague, chief operating officer.

The new store is also the exclusive stockist of Mulberry’s first men’s wear celebrity design collaboration, the Bob Bag, which has been designed by Sir Bob Geldof, a longtime Mulberry customer.
The size of the Mulberry men’s apparel and accessories offerings has grown 25 percent in the last year, according to Montague.

Sales in the 2006-07 fiscal year ending March 31 were 54.1 million pounds, or $110.3 million, and profit was 3.99 million pounds, or $8.1 million. All figures have been converted at current exchange. Mulberry plans to release its first-half sales figures next week.

“There’s been such a growth in the men’s market,” said Montague. “I think we have it at the right size now. Next we want to refine it, and make aspects a bit more fashion-led.”

The new Mulberry men’s store is located on a quiet street, alongside brands such as Nicole Farhi, Paul Smith, Betsey Johnson, Jack Wills and Ted Baker.

“We wanted it to feel boutique-y, like the area,” said Montague, adding she had been eyeing spaces in Covent Garden for a long time. “I always wanted to be here, but there was never property available. When this came up I got it straightaway.”

The store is a playful departure from other Mulberry outlets, but still in keeping with the brand’s look. It has dark wood floors, geometric mirror and wood panels, lightbox surfaces and upholstered walls. The windows have been decorated with a collection of large disco balls, and the traditional Mulberry logo has been changed into a free, handwritten italic-style version for the frontage.

“We wanted to have fun with it,” said Montague, adding she hopes to introduce DJs and other social events to the venue in the long term.

The store sells the entire men’s accessories offering, including cufflinks, bags, satchels and stationery supplies, such as diaries and briefcases. Prices range from 59 pounds, or $121, for a key ring, to 900 pounds, or $1,856, for the leather travel bag designed by Geldof. The store also sells a selection of leather jackets, scarves and shirts from the Mulberry men’s ready-to-wear collection.

The Bob Bag is available in-store on a preorder basis. “Bob came to us with the idea. He’s a fan,” said Montague, adding that Geldof had conceived every aspect of the bag down to the pocket detailing. The bag comes in two colors, each with different print lining options, and retails for 895 pounds, or $1,846.

Currently, men’s rtw at Mulberry represents about 5 percent of total sales. Montague said accessories make up 90 percent of the company’s total sales. Of that figure, men’s accessories constitute roughly 30 percent.

Although the boom in the men’s luxury market is encouraging, Montague said there are no immediate plans for a rollout.

“We want to see how it goes. It’s nice to have a showroom dedicated to our men’s lines. Ultimately you can’t do anything without a customer, so let’s see if there is one.”