Manning Cartell’s new business with Barneys New York could help boost the company’s profile on the U.S. as the contemporary line looks to expand beyond its Australian roots.
The company has spent more than a decade, since its founding in 2005 by a trio of sisters, building firm footing in Australia. It operates eight stand-alone stores there along with its online business and also wholesales to luxury department store David Jones, among other accounts. The brand has made strides on the celebrity circuit, having been worn by Amal Clooney, Bella Hadid and Margot Robbie.
“The focus has very much been on Australia and getting a strong, solid foundation here before we embarked on this [U.S.] journey,” said Gabrielle Manning, part of the founding team that also includes Cheryl and Vanessa Manning.
An exclusive deal with Barneys now brings the brand to select doors of the retailer including Madison Avenue in New York and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
Last year, the company refined its wholesale strategy in Australia to focus on top-tier accounts, or about 20 doors.
“It was a sign of what was going on in the market,” Gabrielle said of the pivot, “and we were wanting to very much kick our distribution to boutiques that were representing the brand with strength, showing the brand in its best light and the full mix of what our collections are.”
“I think also from our perspective, keeping our distribution tighter allows us to serve our customers better to ensure that we’re really giving the best platform for Manning Cartell,” Vanessa added.
The sisters feel they’ve got the Australian market covered in terms of company-operated, stand-alone stores and it’s too soon to say what the plans might hold for the U.S.
“We generally, as a company, very much like to sit with things and feel different things to make sure that they feel right,” Gabrielle said. “So a part of the partnership with Barneys is to ensure it’s successful for them. We really want to focus on that for the next 12 months or so.”
The company’s founders have a trip planned to New York in September, which could hold opportunity to meet with additional retailers.
The brand has been built around ethical manufacturing with a big push on marketing that angle and the fact that the company works with ethically accredited manufacturers.
“What we’ve always tried to do is to feel connected to the product ourselves and we still design and actually fit on one of the sisters, Cheryl,” Vanessa said. “We fit on her, so it’s very much about designing for a woman and making her feel amazing and feel special. We feel very connected to the product and try to get that across to our consumers.”
The company has a web site, which serves customers globally, but the Mannings plan to further refine the online strategy with sites tailored to individual markets.
Manning Cartell employs about 55 people, all based out of Australia.
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