Melissa Morris studied sculpture and business at Emory University in Atlanta before turning to high-end fashion. In 2017, Morris launched Métier in London with a collection of handbags and luggage for both men and women. Engineering everything from scratch, the pieces are wear-tested, tweaked and adjusted until deemed perfect. “I love the story about Christian Dior, who famously refused to cut a dress in velvet for a client who was attending the opera,” explains Morris on the Métier website. “He said, ‘I can’t do that, you will be sitting, the fabric will get crushed.’ I love that. That is the difference; that’s what luxury is. It’s this real obsession about doing something so perfectly and thoughtfully.” Made for travels great and small, Métier combines time-honoured techniques, impeccable materials and innovative design – resulting in timeless luxury pieces for the modern lifestyle.
1. How did you first setup shop and create the Metier brand, and what were some of the early landmark milestones? The first and most important step was taking time to absolutely perfect our products. We took time to source and develop our infrastructure in Italy, finding the absolute best suppliers. We then took three years to develop our product. We re-engineered the basic construction of a bag – it is as lightweight as it is lasting, as streamlined as it is performance driven. Once we had a perfected the products, we then tested them in an Italian facility that simulates 20 years of use, as well as rain, humidity, wind, stones and shaking. We put those bags through the wringer because it is so important to us that we can stand behind our products. Our commitment to the word luxury and to our clients is of the utmost importance. So completing the first range was a huge milestone. The next would be when we launched in April 2017, at which time we opened our Mayfair flagship.
2. What are some of the design elements that define your brand and aesthetic? What sets you apart from your competitors? I would say first and foremost, the inside of our bags is as important as the outside. I strive to intersect elegant luxury with streamlined functionality in every detail of the brand. Whether that’s from modular elements or customer experience – the care for the clients and guarantee that you are getting the absolute best is the hallmark of Métier. Our brand is for today’s movers and shakers – those who love design and quality, but are busy! They value not having to compromise style for functionality. They are constantly on the go – all around the world – everyday from morning to night. My collection aims to move seamlessly with them – bringing a sense of elegance and ease to their every step – modularity and hidden pockets are as intuitive as they are elegant. A lot of people talk about travel and travel goods, but I think we set ourselves apart by redefining travel, not just when you are away from home, but also for the everyday journey from morning to night.
3. What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs? Be patient. Trust yourself. Be open and listen to others, but remember who you are. Go with your gut. Be uncompromising with the team you need around you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t forget how important you are – sleep and time off is required. Be open to change. Have a vision and an objective, but listen to the market, listen to trusted feedback and don’t be afraid for plans to change.
4. When you meet someone at a party, how do you describe what you do? I say I am a handbag designer. Of course, I will explain more if asked, but I usually like to stay away from work talk at parties!
5. What has been the biggest pinch-me moment so far? That’s actually such a hard question. I am lucky that we’ve had a lot of wonderful moments in last two and a half years. My biggest pinch me moments are spending time with the people who have championed Métier. Whether it’s our amazing clients – we have so many I speak with regularly – or the collaborators I get to work with- they are such an impressive group who I truly can’t believe I get to work with. Or people I have long admired that somehow find their way into the shop. Francisco Costa [the Brazilian designer and creative director of Calvin Klein Collection] came to the shop the other month, and he was genuinely blown away by what he saw. It meant the world to me that someone I have admired for so long was so impressed by my work.
6. What do you know now that you wish you had known starting out? There will be so many ups and downs. The most extreme highs are often met with crippling fear. It’s best to take it all in stride. Embrace the middle ground, and try to harness this as much as possible.
7. What are the trends you’ve picked up on around how people travel and pack and how that has changed over the past few years? We literally don’t stop anymore – we are constantly on the go. Technology has revolutionised our lives, but the inside of our bags had never been redesigned to keep up. Everyone was using the same makeshift solutions- an army of pouches inside a bigger bag, which invariably became a sea of confusion. So my collection is designed with intuitive pockets and modularity, so you can move from a big bag to a smaller item with ease.
8. How has social media changed what you do? Actually – for better or worse -it hasn’t! We have never done anything for the noise, so we just use social media as a tool to celebrate who we are and what we do. I love when people come into the shop after hearing about us on Instagram!
9. You are working on a few brand collaborations – such as a partnership with the Beaumont Hotel – what can you tell me about that partnership? I am really excited about this. We are creating a Métier capsule for The Beaumont. The Beaumont is a home away from home for me in London. I often sit and work in their bar. I love its understated elegance and the customer service is second to none. The general manager, Jannes Soerensen and I have become close friends and admirers of each other’s work. The identity of Métier so closely aligns with The Beaumont, so this collaboration came together really naturally.