TORONTO — In a world filled with smart cars, phones, TVs and more. it just made sense to Mélissa Lambert that a handbag’s design should also be smart for today’s 25- to 35-year-old woman who leads an active lifestyle.
In 2017, Lambert, then an active professional pregnant with her second child, came up with the idea of creating a brand of multipurpose vegan leather handbags that were practical yet chic, versatile and made people’s lives easier 24/7.
“The inspiration for launching Lambert came from my own needs because my own bag was a mess,” said mom-of-three Lambert, who then embarked on a frustrating, never-ending search to find a multifunctional, animal-free diaper bag that would be easy on the eye, easy to care for and meet all her daily carryall needs.
“I just wanted something that was bold, chic and practical,” she told WWD. “But all you could find back then if you were pregnant or a young mom were these ugly flowered bags — the kind your boyfriend would definitely never want to use.”
Fast-forward to 2021 and today, the brand offers a range of sustainable and affordable vegan leather bags, backpacks and accessories, including vegan leather wallets, pouches, travel accessories, key chains, toiletry bags and lunchboxes.
Moreover, since March 2020 Lambert has seen a 200 percent increase in its e-commerce site that serves the U.S. and Canada markets. That exponential growth led to the unveiling of Lambert’s new two-story, 3,000-square-foot flagship in Montreal, which opens to the public on Friday.
“We are opening flagships. Not a lot of companies are doing this now as a result of COVID-19,” Lambert told WWD. “But it’s time to give consumers the kind of product and service that will want to make them go back into a store. With this new flagship, we want to make our shoppers feel as special as if they were stepping into Louis Vuitton even though we are not a super high-end retailer like Vuitton.”
With plans to expand into the rest of Canada over the next two years, Lambert is available in 20 points of sale across the country. It also has orders with Simons and Frank and Oak to create back-to-school product for fall.
Yet these strides forward all hinge back to 2017 when the brand began with the online launch of just three items: The Sara, a bag for everyday use; The Charlotte backpack, and The Mia diaper bag.
Other items were soon added, with all her products retailing for between 100 and 200 Canadian dollars.
Lambert’s bags were free of any environmentally harmful PVCs and were PETA-certified, so no animals were ever hurt in their production, “even in the glue used to create them,” Lambert said.
Now celebrating its fourth anniversary, all of Lambert’s collections will be showcased in the new flagship located in the Plateau Mont-Royal, which offers different zones where customers can discover the product lines — including three new totes for fall. Here, shoppers can get their initials monogrammed onto a bag for a fee of 20 Canadian dollars. “But this service will only be available at this flagship, not online. We want to build a community with this flagship,” said Lambert, whose research and development team is now in the process of sourcing apple vegan leather as well as resilient faux leather made from vegetables, which they hope to include in future collections.