This week, a deep dive into U.K.-based bag brand Métier’s plan to become a “major” luxury brand. Scroll down to use Glossy+ Comments, giving the Glossy+ community the opportunity to join discussions around industry topics.
With her 7-year-old leather goods brand, Métier, Melissa Morris is rewriting the rules of luxury.
By design, despite traditional theories about the business implications, Métier bags aren’t meant to be replaced. And, in contrast to the cold and intimidating feel that’s become synonymous with luxury retail, Métier’s first store, in London’s Mayfair neighborhood, is intentionally warm and inviting. As players across the luxury spectrum compete for consumers’ attention with splashy events and campaigns, Métier has instead practiced restraint in marketing, strategically placing breadcrumbs allowing discerning consumers to self-discover the brand — in their minds, anyway.
“I want to take heritage ideals, in terms of the craftsmanship and the values around the product, and rethink that for a modern lifestyle,” said Morris. She noted Métier’s Italy-based production, at one of just two ateliers in the country offering both craftsmanship meeting her standards and observable end-to-end processes on-site. Morris develops 95% of the materials used, working with tanneries to customize the feels, finishes or grains of their highest quality materials, she said. Métier bags in a fabric dubbed Suede Marrakech have been carried by Nicole Kidman and Kate Middleton.
Aiding Métier’s ability to gain traction as a young luxury brand have been Morris’s “meticulous, uncompromising” approach, when it comes to consistent brand messaging, and her refusal to put early-stage pressure on the brand’s bottom line. To date, Metier has seen 60% year-over-year revenue growth, Morris said but declined to provide specifics. The fact that Barneys was an early retail partner was also a factor, she said.
While there are newly revitalized heritage bag brands, like Tanner Krolle, as well as fashion brands that have recently entered the leather goods category, Métier is “the only new leather goods brand at [its luxury] price point,” according to Morris. Its bags range in price from $1,050, for its Minimalist Double crossbody style, to $4,850, for its Perriand Weekend bag. And none of the styles “will ever go on sale, no matter what,” she said.
With its high-quality, logo-free bags, Métier is among the brands that have been linked to quiet luxury. Case in point: Its tote organically showed up in “Succession,” the HBO show that largely popularized the trend. And known fans of the quiet luxury look have embraced the brand’s styles. In a December 2023 Vogue story about the “stealth wealth style” of Meg Strachan, the tastemaker and Dorsey brand founder is shown carrying a Métier Cala tote while wearing a black suit and The Row sneakers.
Strachan told Glossy that she ordered the style from Instagram Shop after hearing about Métier’s quality from “a few editor friends.” The “look and feel” of the brand have since won her over, she said.
“During Covid, more people began looking for investments rather than throwaway products,” Morris said, regarding the rise of quiet luxury. “Considering the excessive logos and derivatives of products, people were bound to eventually take a step back and think, ‘Why am I paying that?’ ‘What am I paying for?’ And, ‘Is it actually chic?’”
Though it’s only recently been named, the concept of quiet luxury is nothing new, And, particularly when it comes to “niche luxury brands,” it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, Ian Schatzberg, co-founder of branding agency General Idea, said in a Glossy focus group in April. He attributed the theory to the ongoing “cultural obsession with finding objects of extreme expense and extreme craft.”
Setting the stage for such opportunities of discovery is a focus for Métier. That includes taking a thoughtful, omnichannel approach to marketing. Along with serving up “luxurious assets” to suitable affluent customers through digital ads, the brand is showing up in audience-aligned publications like the Financial Times, Morris said. “I like to feel like I’m the one who figured something out, or that I’m the one who found it — and our customers are no different,” she said. “So, rather than shout at them, we leave subtle cues.”
On the same note, Métier’s distribution has remained tame, with 85% of its sales being direct-to-consumer. “We’re not relying on wholesale to drive revenue,” Morris said. “Instead, we want to find like-minded partners that can provide exposure in new markets or otherwise put Métier in a new context.”
Among those retailers is Forsyth, a St. Louis-based retailer specializing in vintage furniture and contemporary art. Métier bags account for half of the company’s 20-product fashion assortment. Forsyth co-founder and creative director Annie Genovese called Métier bags the fashion equivalent of the company’s “perfectly crafted and timeless” furniture offerings, made up of “thoughtful designs” in “luxurious materials.” Among them: the Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen and the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen.
“Métier’s designs are so intelligent. And they’re investment pieces,” she said.
Morris said Métier’s “timeless, seasonless products” aren’t meant to be replaced, as “no two products are doing the same job.” Likewise, Apple doesn’t make “20 different versions of the iPhone,” yet its customers are notoriously loyal, she said. The same is often true of car brands, she noted.
“The pressure and pace of the [traditional] fashion cycle doesn’t sit well with me,” she said. ”And with luxury, there should be longevity. Our [repeat] customers are only building on their [Métier] collections.”
In London, where Métier is based, shoppers often discover the brand through its single store which opened in step with its launch. “Luxury doesn’t exist without a home and a place where people can come and touch and feel and experience,” Morris said. The store was profitable in its first year.
In collaboration with a woodworker, Morris designed the store to go against the grain, in terms of interior trends among luxury brands. “Luxury can be inviting, but still aspirational,” she said, noting that establishing a feeling of warmth through textural elements and lighting was a priority.
In the next 12-18 months, Morris plans to open 2-3 more stores, both in the U.S. where Métier has a growing fan base. A round of fundraising will support the expansion, if all goes according to plan — Métier first secured a funding round for an undisclosed sum in 2019. New styles, including a backpack that Morris has spent significant time perfecting, are set to roll out. And growing internally, while also setting the team and the company up for success, will remain top of mind.
“We have ambitions to be a pretty major brand, but we can’t lose the magic sauce,” Morris said.