Luxury handbag retailer Mavrick & Mere was launched in March by co-founders Kristen Armstrong and Amanda Vitasovich. The pair are seeking to establish the new brand as a prestige item that will challenge more established brands like Deadly Ponies and Status Anxiety.
Armstrong, who continues to work for Amazon Surf; and Vitasovich, who’s from a recruitment background, created their brand to target both shoppers seeking a classic style and those after an edgier product with the same proposition. Its dual name reflects this offer, and its physical point of difference is lots of fashion-forward detail: furs, embellishments, zips, studs and rings.
“We’re going just a bit further than that YKK zip,” says Vitasovich.
Armstrong cites Fendi and Prada as style inspirations for Mavrick & Mere.
As well as a D2C website, Mavrick & Mere currently has six boutique stockists around the country, favouring towns such as Whangamata, Matakana and Cambridge besides smaller city centres like Dunedin. Vitasovich says she and Armstrong are working on an Auckland presence: “Auckland’s proving the most difficult to break into.”
Their dream stockists include David Jones – the pair agree Australia is a better market for their products, describing New Zealand shoppers as “quite reserved” in their tastes.
Part of the challenge of getting ranged is that a luxury handbag’s high price point presents a hurdle for both retailers and customers, Vitasovich and Armstrong say. Without brand recognition, it’s tricky to clear when brands with better name recognition or lower price points are crowding the category.
Vitasovich and Armstrong intend to build their brand into a name, but in the meantime, there’s a pop-up planned so that customers can touch and feel the quality of their products in person. The pair are keen to create a luxurious space that communicates their brand values and build connections with shoppers in person.
“A lot of people buy Deadlies for the name as well as the quality,” says Armstrong. “We want to make [Mavrick & Mere] cool for those girls.”
The Mavrick & Mere pop-up will run at Ponsonby Central from 23-29 July. Vitasovich and Armstrong are working with several other emerging brands on the project.