After 26 years of quietly milling luxury textiles for more than 170 designers, including Dior and Joseph, the Majestic Mills, Filatures du Lion, is out to build its own brand.
Majestic Filatures has been known for producing core basics for luxury brands with retail prices for a T-shirt ranging from $500 to $1,300, said Brian Cytrynbaum, principal at Majestic Filatures in Montreal.
For many years there was no demand “for our product. There wasn’t demand for unbranded luxury goods,” Cytrynbaum said. “Consumers have become more sophisticated. They can sense the quality of a product just by touching it.”
The developments created a big white space that Majestic jumped to fill with T-shirts priced from $100 to $400, and 100 percent machine washable cashmere T-shirts, $350, among other items. Majestic’s wardrobe essentials are handcrafted, lightweight knits for women and men. They’re designed in Paris and manufactured in Europe with attention to details such as fit and fabric selection.
“The retail price points are low relative to the quality,” Cytrynbaum contended.
“We’ve never really done much marketing,” he added. “We were always a manufacturer for other brands. Because we were selling directly to retailers, we never wanted to promote our own brand too heavily and get under the skins of our retailers.
“Most retailers aren’t selling as many basics as when we launched the collection, so we don’t feel like we’re stepping on anybody’s toes.”
With Majestic no longer competing with its wholesale clients, the company approached Neiman Marcus, offering its products directly from the mill.
While Majestic Filatures is sold throughout the entire 44-store Neiman Marcus chain, it has opened shops-in-shop called Luxury Essentials in 22 Neiman’s units. “We’re building the shops as quickly as we can,” Cytrynbaum said.
Besides T-shirts, Majestic sells cardigans and “some elements of fashion in an uber-luxury format at opening prices,” he said.
“Neiman Marcus has made a huge conscious effort to have us sell T-shirts for designer collection,” he said. “We’re funneling enough product and make sure we have the inventory. A lot of clients will buy four, five or six items in different colors. We can’t have stock outages.
“That’s why this turned into such a meaningful business for us,” Cytrynbaum continued. “If you go to the Gucci section, they don’t carry very basic items anymore. The customer always wanted that quality. We fill a very specific niche in the market and it’s becoming an important business.”
Majestic began educating Neiman’s staff about selling its products. “With a relatively low margin, we keep an everyday low price strategy, even at Neiman’s,” Cytrynbaum said. “People don’t feel like they need to wait for a sale.”
For Neiman’s Majestic produces different fiber qualities, including 100 percent cashmere, a cotton cashmere blend and a soft touch program, “which is like wearing nothing at all. Neiman’s sold well over 100,000 T-shirts in that one model,” Cytrynbaum.
Majestic is also making inroads in Europe. The brand, which operated a single store in the Marais district of Paris, will launch more than 10 units this year, starting with a new Paris flagship. The store network is expanding across France and includes stores in London and Luxembourg. The stores will feature the brand’s core collections as well as capsules created in partnership with André Saraiva, Constance Jablonski and Lapo Elkann.
The retail expansion is made possible by the recent acquisition of 12 Ventilo boutique locations by Filatures du Lion.
Majestic Filatures is moving beyond its core basics comfort zone with herringbone blazers, animal-print turtlenecks, leather-fringed ponchos, patent leather vests, leather button-down shirts and lace blouses. “We’ve gone into basics with a twist,” Cytrynbaum said. “We’re doing pants and dresses.
“We sell in 54 countries — 17,000 points of sale globally,” he said. “We do primarily yarn-dyed items in 370 styles in 16 colors per season in five sizes. I won’t say it’s been a quick, instant success, but after our 52 seasons of doing this, we’ve always believed in our space.”