I first learned of Mansur Gavriel about a month ago, when a friend emailed me links to both Steven Alan's e-commerce site and Garance Dore's blog. She was contemplating purchasing the black duffle with a red lining, and soon enough, so was I.
I should have acted then, because the black duffle sold out. In fact, all of the "bucket" bags sold out. And most of the tote bags, too. And this is the craziest part: Mansur Gavriel's first-ever collection just hit stores at the beginning of June. Which means it's sort of an overnight sensation.
I say sort of, because cofounders Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel have been working on the line since 2011. The friends met "years ago" at an XX concert—Rachel was living in Los Angeles and Floriana in Berlin. They conceived the line via email. The collection works for women who love Want Les Essentiels de la Vie but might find it a little too masculine, and who don't want to commit to the cost of a Celine tote. "We felt that there wasn't a bag in the contemporary space that we wanted," Mansur says. (Prices start at $190 for a clutch, $435 for a tote bag.) "So we corresponded long distance for quite a while, developing a concept."
In 2012, the duo converged in New York and began the sourcing process. While they chose to manufacture in China, the leather was sourced in Italy, and post-assemblage process was done there, too. "We knew we wanted the interiors to be a different color, but we didn't know how to do it," Mansur says. "We talked to a lot of people, and found an amazing company in Italy that specializes in sort of thing—they did a matte patent coating for us." The next collection—Spring 2014—will also be manufactured in Italy. "We were happy with the bags, they looked great, but we were really thinking about the carbon footprint," Mansur says. "The idea of the bags traveling that much...we just thought it would be better to produce everything in the same place."
While details from the stitching to the handle length have been scrutinized by the duo, the one thing they couldn't anticipate was the response. "We wish we had more!" Mansur says of the sold-out bucket bags. As for how they got into such great stores on the first try: "We just really pounded on doors. We did do Capsule [the trade show], but we actually secured a lot of our accounts before that. We just emailed buyers with images of the bags." Net-a-Porter, for instance, responded to a cold email--the collection hits the site this fall.
Right now, Mansur and Gavriel are focusing on the Spring 2014 collection—which will include new interior colors—and simply keeping up with the demand. "We're excited that people have been responding well to the bags, and we're hoping to continue," Mansur says. "We want to make a staple that women continue to wear from season to season."