Métier's 3rd Anniversary - Looking Back

13 April 2020

Written by Founder & Designer Melissa Morris

Written by Founder & Designer Melissa Morris

The idea for Métier came when it struck me how much technology had revolutionised the way we “travel” through our lives. We were now on the go from morning to night to overnight with a moment’s notice and with totes and pouches filled with everything we needed for the various steps of our journey. After the millionth time panicking that I had lost my house keys or passport, I starting to look for an option that was both elegant and functional.  As I canvassed the market, I realized how many friends wished that they had found the same thing. From this, Métier was born.
In Summer 2014, I moved to Berlin where I began to map out the details with my co-founder Reinhard Mieck. The first piece I designed was the Runaway; it is the cornerstone to my design philosophy.  I actually designed it while sitting upstairs at Soho House Berlin one afternoon. I often work best when there is life and movement around me.

The idea for The Runaway came from my own frequent travel and the makeshift solutions I would come up with as an attempt to keep myself organised. I had a small pouch which would hold all of my essentials (passport, keys, my wallet etc.). I would tuck it inside my bigger bag to keep organised. Unfortunately, while this was a step in the right direction, I realized that without any pockets inside the smaller pouch, I had created a mini bottomless pit inside a bigger bottomless pit. The Runaway and later The Stowaway are my answers for this.

Once the designs were in place, I was back and forth between Berlin and Italy for two years as we developed our products.  Our concept was never to make a collection of bags that were only functional.  Instead, the challenge was to make a collection of bags that were as practical as they were refined. In the same way that a car drives, but a luxury car drives more elegantly, I wanted to bridge performance and luxury for the leather goods market. 

Italy was the only place we ever considered to craft the collection. The mastery of the artisans and their passion for their craft is intoxicating. We knew they would be the only partners who could realize such a precise and challenging concept.

We were lucky to have attracted a world-class leather goods developer, Luca Flavi, to join our project. I will never forget how his eyes widened as I explained to him that I wanted to make a bag that could be clipped inside another bag without adding much weight or dragging it down. He smiled and said, “Ah! you have a small challenge for me…” We toasted with a bottle of Amarone and set off on our journey.

We spent the next 6 months meeting various suppliers to see who was up for the challenge. I wanted all the bags to be lined in Alcantara–a micro-fibre used in vintage luxury cars that would be as luxurious to touch as they were durable to use. The challenge however was the colour. It took us 9 months to get just the perfect tone for our signature color Amarone. Today, it is used inside all of our bags and serves as one of the most important signatures.

We sourced only the highest quality natural leathers. Natural leather means the hide is not stamped or covered, but can develop a natural patina and get better with age. We worked with a few of the best tanneries in Italy and France to develop new leathers to achieve exactly what we were looking for. For example, we developed our buffalo because I was looking for a grained option for the collection. As calfskin does not have a pebbled grain without being printed or stamped, I looked to buffalo which does. I love the irregularities of its natural grain- its what we call the perfect imperfect.

By far the most challenging part of our development was to craft each piece to be lightweight and refined yet highly functional. In order to achieve this, we studied the pressure points of each bag and developed unique methods of reinforcement to secure only these points. Also, we developed precise thickness for each panel of leather down to the millimetre. For example, if the side panels did not provide structural support, they could be thinner than the front and back. We reduced each piece down as much as possible to find the perfect balance of lightweight yet lasting. This is how we were able to create pieces that are so refined on the outside yet so complex on the inside.

In parallel to the work in Italy, we also searched for the perfect flagship. London was always going to be Métier’s home–there is no other city in the world that has such a deep respect for heritage values, but equally presses forward with modern ideas.  I have always loved the area near Mount Street.  It is a quieter part of Mayfair and steeped in timeless elegance.  When we discovered 59 South Audley Street, we knew it was perfect.

We wanted whoever steps inside of our shop to experience the warmth and precision behind every aspect of our brand. As everything we did was done with such care, we wanted to exuberate the same level of intimacy as one would feel in a couturier’s atelier.

We sourced every material ourselves from the green marble that became our bar top from a quarry outside Berlin to our chandelier from Marché aux Puces in Paris. We inlaid the walls with our red buffalo leather, and used a vintage yacht as a favourite reference of form and function.

After 3 years since the first sketch in Berlin, we opened our shop on April 17, 2017. I cannot decide if it seems like time has flown or if it feels like a lifetime ago; a bit of both I guess. There have been so many unexpected highs and lows, but one thing that has kept us going are the people who have championed us. From our clients to our artisans to those in the industry who have stood behind us, we have been really fortunate to have attracted the best in class across the board.

So much has happened since we first opened our doors, but here are some highlights that first come to mind:

I designed what we now call the perfect eight-to-late bag in the spring of 2018. Shortly after, we were mentioned in Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty. It was our first press in the U.S. and truly put us on the map. I will never forget this moment. We had really struck a cord as we received email after email from women who were so excited to finally have found a bag which did not require them to compromise their love of luxury for their need for function. This moment for me really reinforced that the market gap was in fact there, and showed me just how many people across the world resonated with what we were doing.

I know it sounds cliche, but we have the best clients in the world. The brand just brings together incredibly interesting and inspiring men and women from all around the world. Our clients are passionate, discerning and live life on their own terms. In fact, our brand name is inspired by our clients. Métier on the surface means your job or profession, but in practice it really means your calling, your passion, and your reason for being. It not only reflects the passion and care we bring into our products, but it also our customers and their métiers. Getting to spend time in the shop with those who pass by is by far my favourite perk of the job.

In November 2018, we launched with Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and the Aman Hotel in Tokyo. A few months later, we launched in Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and that same summer, with Harrods in London. Our most recent partnership was last November with MATCHESFASHION.COM. This launch was an absolute high point for me and one we celebrated at the River Cafe in December where Natalie Kingham, the buying director, and I co-hosted a dinner together.

A few months ago, I received an email which uncharacteristically left me speechless. It was from the British Fashion Council to let us know that Métier was shortlisted as a finalist for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. We met the judging panel in March to present our business plans and visions for our brand. It was nerve wracking, but also incredible to see the leaders of British fashion taking such care to understand each of our businesses.

Immediately after the BFC panel day, the current global Covid-19 crisis began to spin out of control and we have been in lockdown since. I feel like to have had this moment be the one which our story pauses on, and an incredible reminder of how much can change so quickly and to never take anything for granted.

Looking back on the last 6 years – from 3 years of development and 3 years since our launch – I am so proud of what we have done. I am grateful for all the support and encouragement from everyone around the brand, especially those who have been part of the Métier team.  It is not easy to chart a new path, but none of it would ever have happened without the passion and commitment of the team I am thankful to be a part of. I think the biggest lesson I have learned is the strength in being nimble while simulataneously being absolutely uncompromising in the heart of your vision. The current crisis is just another testament to that resolve.

While I am so proud of what we have done so far, I am even more excited for whats to come. We have been working hard behind the scenes these weeks from lockdown and have been finally able to kick off a project I had been wanting to do for a very long time… I look forward to celebrating it with you when we unveil it next year!  Until then, here’s to all that’s to come for Métier and beyond.

Stay safe and healthy, and thank you.

Melissa x