5 Minutes with Melissa and Marcela of M2Malletier

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Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcela Velez of M2Malletier
Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcela Velez | Photo: Courtesy of M2Malletier

If you’ve been living off the grid without access to the internet or a TV for the past few years, you might be forgiven for not knowing the instantly iconic ‘Needle’ bag produced by M2Malletier, a luxury handbag brand based in Barcelona and started by design duo Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcela Velez. After all, it has been a favorite accessory of celebrities like Cate Blanchett, Taylor Swift, and Solange Knowles, and a constant presence in shopping and style guides the world over.

The bags’ harmonious, geometric shape coupled with flawless, minimalist surfaces and an unexpected needle-accent handle form the blueprint for M2Malletier’s timeless and intriguing aesthetic. However, it took a chance encounter between the two designers – who hail from the same country but did not meet until 2007, when they both attended Parsons School of Design in New York – for the bag to come into existence. Bofill and Velez are part of a new creative class emerging from the South American country of Colombia, but they have chosen to base their headquarters in Barcelona, keeping their Latin roots alive from across the water.

With a new M2Malletier collection devised specifically for shoppers at Harvey Nichols – Dubai, Savoir Flair took to the opportunity to pick the designers’ brains in the following exclusive interview.

Harvey Nichols - Dubai exclusive collection by M2Malletier
Harvey Nichols – Dubai Exclusive Collection by M2Malletier | Photo: Courtesy of M2Malletier

How did you come up with the name of your brand?
The concept behind the brand’s name is simpler than it appears. “M2” comes from our first names, and “malletier” is an old French word that is related to luggage and bag manufacturing.

You are both from the same country, and ended up at Parsons School of Design at the same time. When did your paths first cross? Was it fate at first sight?
We met at Parsons School of Design in New York back in 2007. We never had any classes together, but became great friends and loved the idea of being able to do something in the future. However, we both worked and interned in various companies within the industry, and it was only in 2011 when we started developing the project. At the time, we were between Paris, London, New York… we both finally moved to Barcelona to start the brand.

How do you divide business and design duties as a team?
Melissa is more into design, while I’m more on the business side – although we always complement each other.

What respective strengths do you each bring to the design process?
I tend to think more globally, and Melissa is all about the details.

The aesthetic of M2Malletier is minimal, but surreal. Where does the surreal angle come from? Why is it an important aspect of your creations?
It’s an important aspect of our creations because their overall look is very clean and minimal. Besides, we have very clear key elements for a good bag – timelessness, but always keeping them interesting, as well as innovative materials and colors.

What inspired the “needle” handle?
The signature detail, the needle, is inspired by medieval medical instruments. Our whole idea was to create a piece of hardware that had not been seen before. During one of our weekends in Paris, we found a beautiful book at the Marché aux Puces with illustrations of medieval medical instruments, which was our first inspiration for the handle. We were also very inspired by architecture and armor.

What was your breakout moment as a brand?
Our breakout moment was when Net-a-Porter decided to buy our collection.

Which celebrity would you love to see carry your bag?
We would love to see Alicia Vikander carry one of our bags.

You have found success as designers in a relatively short period of time. Are you surprised at how fast the journey has been?
It seems relatively fast, but we have worked very hard since the beginning. We’ve been methodical and meticulous in all aspects of our business – we think that’s key!

We’re experiencing big changes in a short period of time, but see the challenges in it.

How much of your time is actually spent in Barcelona?
We travel a lot, but spend most of our time in Barcelona. It’s an amazing city to live in.

How has the fashion industry changed since you first started working in it?
We’re experiencing big changes in a short period of time, but see the challenges in it.

How have you expanded your range since you first launched the label?

We launch something new each season. We expanded our range with different models and different versions of the hardware. Last season, Spring/Summer 2017, we launched our first soft bag called the ‘Alexia’. And in Fall/Winter 2016, we introduced our logo as a pin.

What was your goal when creating your Fall/Winter 2016 collection for Harvey Nichols – Dubai?
Our goal was to present a strong collection that represents the women who shop at Harvey Nichols – Dubai.

How is the Middle Eastern customer different from other customers?
Middle Eastern customers like evening bags more than others; they love glamour. We always think of special items for them when we’re designing a new collection.

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