By Craig Patterson
Montreal-based eco-friendly accessory fashion brand Matt & Nat is continuing with its aggressive retail expansion this year with several new stores and by the end of the year, it will have 15 locations in Canada and the United States. The company also continues to expand its range of cruelty-free products that includes a premium line of accessories that it launched last fall.
Matt & Nat brand (short for “mat(t)erial” and “nature”) was founded in Montreal in 1995, and is known particularly for not using leather or any other animal-based materials in its bag and accessory designs. Since 2007, the brand has been committed to using linings only made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles, and it recently introduced recycled bicycle tires to its collections. The brand launched with a collection of accessories and it has since expanded to also carry a range of footwear designs. Matt & Nat wholesales to retailers in Canada as well as globally, and it also has a robust ecommerce business at mattandnat.com/shop.
According to Manny Kohli, President and owner of Matt & Nat, the brand’s retail store expansion has been very successful so far. Matt & Nat’s first freestanding store opened in March of 2016 at the CF Carrefour Laval shopping centre north Montreal. A second store opened in October 2016 at Quartier DIX30, in Brossard, and a third location opened in Ottawa’s CF Rideau Centre in May of 2017. Last year Matt & Nat opened two Toronto-area stores — one at CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto spanning 1,470 square feet, as well as a 1,450 square foot location at Square One in Mississauga. Most recently, the brand opened at Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre, kicking off an expansion into Western Canada, as well as at Vaughan Mills in suburban Toronto which opened on April 25. Matt & Nat also operates outlet stores at Premium Outlets Montreal and at Toronto Premium Outlets, as well as a pop-up store in the Soho area of New York City.
Recognizing that its first store was a bit on the small side, Matt & Nat recently relocated its CF Carrefour Laval flagship from a 1,000 square foot retail space to a new 1,760 square foot space in the mall.
Matt & Nat continues to negotiate leases for new stores, and Mr. Kohli confirmed several new locations for the brand. In Canada, a store at West Edmonton Mall will open this fall, while markets such as Vancouver are still under discussion. The Vancouver area could support as many as three storefronts for the brand, he said.
In the fall of 2019, Matt & Nat is confirmed to be opening two stores in the United States — one will be at the busy and prestigious Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose, California, and the other will be at the popular Bellevue Square in suburban Seattle. More locations are anticipated for key shopping centre properties. Mr. Kohli said in an earlier interview that he had been interested in a beautiful retail space on Regent Street in London.
By the end of the year, Mr. Kohli said that he expects to have 15 stores internationally, up from the current 10 locations listed above. Ideal retail locations include busy shopping centres and commercial high streets.
While the expansion is ambitious, Mr. Kohli said that the company is being respectful of its wholesale accounts, which are highly valuable and will be maintained. The goal is to continue to grow Matt & Nat’s brand awareness to drive sales at all distribution points, not to mention its expansive e-commerce site.
Last fall, the company launched a new premium collection called ‘Studio 901’. The line includes a range of accessories that look and feel luxurious, featuring gold hardware, exceptional fabrics and a range of colours.
Retail Insider will follow up and report on Matt & Nat as it continues with its international expansion that is seeing tremendous success as consumer awareness continues to grow.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: email@example.com