LONDON — Mon Purse, the Australian accessories label known for its customization services, is making its U.K. debut at Selfridges.
The brand is stocked at Myer department stores across Australia, and also sells through its own e-commerce and retail stores in Paddington, an eastern suburb of Sydney. Increasing online demand from the U.K. prompted founder Lana Hopkins to bring her customizable leather goods to the British capital, with an exclusive partnership with Selfridges.
Hopkins said that in addition to having a personal connection with Selfridges as a dedicated fan of the TV series “Mr. Selfridge,” the British department store was the right partner for Mon Purse because of its commitment to retail theater.
“I always thought that Selfridges is unlike any other store in the world. Theater and story telling — I feel that we have that in common, we are committed to theater and creating an experience for the customer,” said Hopkins. “Our space will have a gallery-style format and aims to take people on a journey. I think the future of retail is all about theater.”
The Mon Purse space in the department store, which spans 120 square feet and is located on the lower ground floor, features leather swatches, different types of hardware, a monogramming machine and screens showcasing all the different ways the company can customize a product, in order to engage the customer and tell the brand’s story.
The brand’s products range from tech accessories, such as iPhone or laptop cases, to small leather goods such as key rings or travel cases, and handbags. The bags have sleek, minimal lines and key styles include bucket bags, totes and roomy shoppers.
Prices range from 35 pounds, or $44, for a key ring to 480 pounds, or $597, for a tote.
“Our message to our customer is that they are individuals and can choose to customize as little or as much as they want,” said Hopkins, highlighting that even the smallest leather products can be monogrammed, while the brand’s bag builder — which is accessible online or via iPads in-store — offers customers the opportunity to choose the texture and colorway of the leather they want to use, as well as the hardware.
“I used to do everything manually for the first orders I sent to our factories in Turkey. But we then spent all of 2014 developing the technology for our bag builder, at first it had around 30 million bag combinations, while now it offers up to 6 billion combinations,” added Hopkins.
When launching her label in 2014, Hopkins saw a gap in the market in quality leather products that were not priced at a luxury level. She started by sourcing leathers in Italy and working with manufacturers in Turkey; as the label grows, Hopkins plans to open a factory in Italy which will manufacture the majority of its handbags. Production of the small leather goods will remain in Turkey.
“The smell of real leather when you walk into a designer boutique is what signifies quality for me, but you would only find it if you invest in that really expensive designer label. And even then you can’t customize it,” she explained.
The company has plans to continue its international expansion in the U.S. and will focus on retail as much as it does on selling from its own channels.
“The reason why we have been able to scale so quickly in the Australian market is precisely because of our partnership with Myer. That enabled us to build trust and credibility in a very short time, which would have been far more difficult to achieve if we were just present online. It’s all about having an omnichannel strategy in play and seeing this integration across all platforms,” added Hopkins.