Montreal’s m0851: Exporting design drives global retail success

Montreal’s m0851: Exporting design drives global retail success

Frédéric Mamarbachi is the founder of and creator behind m0851, a design approach that takes the form of a line of bags, accessories, leather jackets and outerwear that are designed and manufactured in Montreal.

Frédéric Mamarbachi learned to work with leather on the job, having worked in fashion since he was 22 years old. The concept behind m0851 was created 30 years ago, in 1987, and was born out of a particularly creative vision: “The concept is open, which means that we design products according to our own ways of thinking and hope to create a customer base that appreciates them. Over time, we have attracted the customers we need to keep going. So, it’s quite simple.”

Creativity is a core value for the company. “We think of ourselves as a creative company rather than a fashion company. Our brand has integrity, and as a company, we have pretty unique values,” Mamarbachi said.

These values can be seen in all of the company’s activities. Mamarbachi designs each m0851 store. “When we make our own products and sell them in stores that we’ve designed ourselves, it constitutes a whole. Nothing is left to chance.”

m0851 hopes to offer its customers a complete experience. It is for this reason the company quickly decided to sell its products primarily in its own retail stores, rather than going through distributors.

“We’ve leaned toward retail sales in order to highlight the product and the retail experience, creating a complete m0851 experience. Creativity is important, and so is the story we have to tell. We felt that it would be better to showcase the product in its own context and its own world, rather than in someone else’s world.”

This strategic choice has also allowed m0851 to continue to grow despite changes in the market over the years. “These days, customers have so much to choose from. We have to be able to attract them to our product. To a certain extent, you need to offer something fun, and that means you need a good story to share.”

The same goes for m0851’s online business, today a real virtual boutique. “We offer the same experience as what you’d find in store, with the same approach, the same message and the same core values.”

Exporting to the international market has also been a core value for the company since its beginnings. “We always had the goal of selling our products internationally in order to move beyond the mentality of a single country. Had we grown much bigger in Canada before selling overseas, we would probably have a different product today. It would have been designed to satisfy a specific market. We began exporting from the beginning so that we wouldn’t become prisoners to a single market.”

In addition to its stores in Canada, m0851 has boutiques in Japan, China, Spain and the United States, as well as distributors in Australia and Benelux. The next few years will be dedicated to developing the market in the United States, where there are currently three boutiques (New York, Boston and Los Angeles), as well as the national market – three boutiques have opened in the last few months in Montreal and Toronto, and the company plans to add to that number in the next two years.

Get more export insights from Frédéric Mamarbachi here.

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