DUBAI — “We only decide to open a boutique if we are offered a nice location,” Guillaume Davin, president of Moynat, said in an exclusive interview on the opening of the firm’s first boutique in the Middle East. The latest location for the heritage French leather goods maker is in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, inside the Dubai Mall.
“We have always thought that Moynat should only be in 10 to 12 cities around the world and Dubai was part of that,” said Davin. “Moynat is a leather goods maker, but we are also about poetry, form and function. It’s about making beautiful things. Dubai has this same poetry: it’s very much about architecture and modernity.”
Although Dubai was eyed as a key market, there was never a rush to enter. “We do not have to open. When a nice opportunity arises we take it. We don’t have a plan for a city first,” said Davin.
Moynat’s last opening was on London’s Mount Street four years ago. “We were offered this corner location and because of that, we decided to open. It could have taken two to four more years until the proper location would be offered to us. It’s a matter of charm. Charm is always the most important factor.”
He described each outpost of Moynat as an “embassy.”
“Paris is the heart of the company and we have embassies in various cities, but there is only one capital.”
Demand for Moynat products in the region has been building. “We already have fans from the Middle East in London,” he said. “They are quite independent in their preferences: they want to be the first to have something and come to us because not everyone has a Moynat bag.”
Each Moynat boutique has a different product mix. The Moynat Gallery in Dubai will carry men’s and women’s leather goods and accessories, trunks and textiles. The house’s signature personalization services, from hand-painting initials to custom orders for bespoke trunks and handbags, will be available.
Gavin said they expect to sell many limited-edition pieces in the Middle East. A unique and rare trunk Al Noor by Moynat was created to mark the occasion of the store opening. It took one-and-a-half years to make and houses an antique Koran, which Moynat creative director Ramesh Nair found in India.
At the company’s Paris presentation last week, Nair unveiled a new heated tattooing technique. He wouldn’t say exactly when or where it would be used, but alluded to the idea that the company will incorporate it soon into bags.
The biggest markets for the brand remain France and the U.K., followed by China, Japan and Korea, but Gavin said they expect strong growth in the Middle East.
The company was acquired by Bernard Arnault’s Groupe Arnault in 2011, but sits separately from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and in many ways has less commercial pressure. “We are lucky in that the company is not finance-obsessed with short-term results. We are 169 years old now and it has taken us that long to come to Dubai, so short-term success is not the main goal. We have to build the foundation.”
The big boss is still quite involved. “Mr. Arnault keeps a close eye on us, but we have complete freedom to go for the best, not to compromise on anything. We are not tied to a financial objective or very frequent reviews of our business or strategy. Of course, Mr. Arnault is a demanding client, so you have to satisfy him.”
The brand is not striving to be too big. “We are not for everybody. We are in only 10 cities so far. We have very limited distribution, and we will keep it that way,” said Davin. He added they don’t do a lot of marketing. The in-store experience, he said, is particularly important for the brand. “It’s like going to a gallery and discovering a new artist, this is how we want to tell the story and share who we are. Humanity and hospitality are obsessions for us.”
The average age of their clients varies between regions. In China and Korea the clients are younger, in their 20s and 30s. In Europe and the U.S., customers skew a little older, in their 40s and 50s.
After Dubai, Davin said the next Moynat opening will be in April in London at Selfridges in the recently vacated Chanel boutique, followed by Los Angeles on Rodeo Drive.