Montreal-based, eco-friendly, vegan accessory fashion brand Matt & Nat continues to open stores amid an aggressive expansion both within Canada and the United States. The company now operates 12 stores in both countries and more are planned.
Most recently, Matt & Nat opened stores in Edmonton, suburban Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay area. The West Edmonton Mall store spans about 2,000 square feet, according to Matt & Nat’s President and CEO Manny Kohli, and a unit at Bellevue Square in the affluent city in Bellevue, Washington, spans about 1,480 square feet. Last week, Matt & Nat opened a storefront at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, California — the centre has expanded to include many luxury stores, being located in Northern California’s ‘Silicon Valley’.
A flagship in New York City’s Soho area also recently became permanent after a lease extension of a pop-up at 242 Lafayette Street.
Early next year, Matt & Nat will open its first Vancouver-area store at Metropolis at Metrotown — the Vancouver market is an important one for eco-conscious Matt & Nat. Mr. Kohli said that the Vancouver area could support as many as three standalone stores for the brand and is in talks with landlords. Matt & Nat is working with brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap for its store expansion, under the direction of Kathleen McGuigan.
The Matt & Nat brand was founded in Montreal in 1995 — the name is short for “mat(t)erial” and “nature”. The brand is particularity known for not using leather or any other animal-based materials in its bag and accessory designs. Since 2007, Matt & Nat has been committed to using linings only made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles, and last year it 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.
About a year ago, Matt & Nat 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.
Mr. Kohli explained that the new Matt & Nat stores are not only creating brand awareness for the brand, they are also highly successful in terms of sales numbers. Matt & Nat’s first freestanding store opened in March of 2016 at the CF Carrefour Laval shopping centre near Montreal, and the store relocated several months ago into a 1,760 square-foot storefront to showcase a broader range of product. 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.
In 2018, 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. The brand’s first store in Western Canada opened at Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre, and a storefront at Vaughan Mills in suburban Toronto opened on April 25 of this year. Matt & Nat operates outlet stores at Premium Outlets Montreal and at Toronto Premium Outlets, as well as the former pop-up store in the Soho area of New York City which recently became permanent.
While the expansion is ambitious, Mr. Kohli said that the company is being respectful of its wholesale accounts which 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 which is also responsible for a substantial amount of retail sales.
The brand’s expansion will continue into 2020 with a confirmed Metropolis at Metrotown location, and other negotiation are said to be in the works. Matt & Nat stores are noticeably absent from the vibrant downtown cores of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, though all are expected to be in line for new Matt & Nat stores.
Given Matt & Nat’s current base of stores, shopping centres appear to be a target for new store openings. In downtown Toronto, CF Toronto Eaton Centre is a likely target for Matt & Nat — the shopping centre is the busiest in North America in terms of footfall and is one of the most productive in the country in terms of sales per square foot, and Matt & Nat already has a strong partnership with landlord Cadillac Fairview. In Vancouver, one might expect CF Pacific Centre to be a target for Matt & Nat — the busy shopping centre is the second most productive in Canada in terms of annual sales per square foot at $1,865 according to the upcoming Retail Council of Canada Shopping Centre Study. In Montreal, the Montreal Eaton Centre is a potential target for Matt & Nat — the downtown shopping complex recently became home to Canada’s first Time Out Market food hall, and also saw the addition of sportswear retailer Decathlon and a renovated Sephora store. Next year, Uniqlo will open its largest Canadian flagship at Montreal Eaton Centre as well.
Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre could also be in line for a Matt & Nat location at some point. The massive shopping centre, which features an impressive roster of luxury stores, is the top in Canada with annual sales per square foot of $1,964 according to Retail Council of Canada’s upcoming Shopping Centre Study.
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.