Buzzy Turkish accessory brand Manu Atelier is giving its shoe offerings a major upgrade with the launch of its first footwear collection since the COVID-19 pandemic.
A key part of its PF22 collection being launched at the end of May, with visuals shot by Harley Weir, the new shoe line represents an ambitious step to take the brand to the next level, according to brand founders Beste and Merve Manastır.
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The sister duo explained that the brand had to pause the development of the shoe collection, which was introduced pre-COVID-19 when all their shoe factories in Italy entered total lockdowns, causing months of delay in production and delivery.
Now with the pandemic slowing down, the brand is introducing several new styles, such as the square-toe loafer decorated with the miniature version of the same gold chain used in the brand’s bestselling Carmen bag, which the duo believes will perform well on the market.
“Footwear has always been very successful for us and has been quite in high demand for the past year, so it was important for us to launch an appealing line by focusing on creating new iconic signature shoes. We design our footwear and bag collections in unison to present our universe across both categories,” the Manastırs said.
They added that footwear is now a major growth engine, even though the brand started with bags.
“Footwear is a category that keeps growing. It has a big following and rapidly gained a cult status internationally amongst the fashion crowd with our Duck boots, which is one of the bestsellers. Our Chae boot is also very successful. It’s a more classical style but still fusing Manu Atelier’s aesthetic through its curved heal shape,” they said.
In terms of popular bag styles, they name-checked the classic Cylinder, as well as the trapeze-shaped Kesme, which was first introduced in February 2021.
China is another key marker for the brand to explore, besides North America. Following a series of launches on Tmall, JD.com, and Net-a-porter China, the brand is investing in the market “to support that growth and ensure a bespoke business strategy to continue to grow and drive more direct sales, whilst also developing marketing activities supporting our local retailers.”
Another big step for the brand post-COVID-19 is that it will resume physical wholesale in Paris starting from the resort 2023 season. The brand will present the new range during Paris Men’s Fashion Week with a multibrand showroom.
Manu Atelier now sells in more than 15 countries through wholesale accounts including Neiman Marcus, Shopbop, LuisaViaRoma, Browns, Monnier Paris, Printemps, 24s and Selfridges.
The Manastırs observed that the pandemic has shattered the traditional way of looking at the market geographically. Now it’s about reaching out and connecting with customers in the most rapid and efficient way.
“With the pandemic, the whole fashion market has been digitized and people have now new ways of shopping. As a business in a digitalized world, we must think of how people shop, see, interact and engage with our products online to ensure the best conversion. Online, customers can rapidly lose their attention and interest, so it’s about offering them a mobile-friendly and seamless consumer journey,” they added.
There is a trend in the market for successful accessory brands, such as Eytys and Axel Arigato, expanding into ready-to-wear.
Asked whether Manu Atelier is heading in a similar direction, the Manastır sisters confirmed that they are “thinking of expanding into different categories, but we won’t say more than that.”
“Whichever category this might be we will take the time to create something that will perfectly reflect the brand’s DNA but also our values. As you know, sustainability has always been a key focus for us, our aim is to create timeless products that have longevity. We believe that consuming better and more consciously is the way to a more sustainable world.
“This season we partnered with sustainable designer Lou de Betoly to create upcycling clothes that are featured in our PF22 campaign. These ethical pieces were produced by only using the surplus fabrics from our production. We like to dress the modern woman and empower her with the right accessories, so it only makes sense for us to venture ourselves and diversify our offerings to satisfy our core customers with new offers but also to capture a new following and connect with new customers,” they added.