Monyat At A Glance ( As Observed By Bagaholicboy)

Moynat offers its simple, elegant bags in fun, seasonal hues, though most here prefer the ones in safe neutrals, says BB.

Number of customers daily:
“50 to 60.”

Average amount of time spent on making a purchase: “Half an hour.”

The most popular style: “The Rejane top handle in petite that, at 26cm-long, is like a medium – the most functional size for work and play. Women here are very sensible.”

The most popular question: “‘What’s the most popular bag?’ and, if one comes knowing what style she wants, ‘What size and colour should I get?’. (Most go for neutrals.)”

What impressed new customers most: “Besides the workmanship, the fact that the brand was started by a woman, which means she was very progressive for her time.”

Number of customers who pronounce Moynat correctly: “Not many. Most go ‘Moy-nay’ when it’s ‘Moy-na’.

“The only time I’ve worked in retail was during my secondary school holidays in the sports section at Metro, when there was Metro at Marina Square. Let’s just say I was glad when I got moved to do gift-wrapping. 

When I learnt that Moynat was opening its first South-east Asian boutique at Ngee Ann City (#01-10) though, I volunteered to be a shop assistant – zero pay, commission or free bag – because I’ve always felt that in order for a customer to appreciate it, she needs to be educated. 

I got my own education about this 168-year-old brand from visiting one of its workshops in Paris in 2012. There, for the first time, I saw artisans painstakingly creating every single part of a bag by hand: from the body (that’s given structure with a sheet of leather, not plastic or cardboard like at many other luxury brands) to – in some cases – the stitching, done with a thick, long needle that calls for immense strength to use. I became an instant fan and customer: The brand doesn’t take shortcuts or gets swayed by economies of scale; it makes bags the proper, old-school way. When you’re paying between $3,300 and $49,970 for one, is that not what you want? 

My tactic at the brand’s 1,100 sq ft store here was simple: Ask a customer if she needs assistance; expound on its history, techniques and signatures if she says yes; back off if she says “I’ll have a look”. (That and serve refreshments, wait and smile just like every staff member.) Of all the ones that walked in though, only about 20 per cent – many of whom had responded to my call-out to drop by and make an appointment with me – allowed me to unleash my game plan. 

Here’s the thing: It might be underrated, but Moynat has a following – one that, I observed, was largely made up of discreet, simply dressed yet sophisticated women, many of whom came with Moynats. Not one – save for some tourists – were flashy or young millennials. Often, they mock bemoaned the arrival of the label here because I realised, it meant that they would feel less exclusive (the nearest store used to be in Hong Kong). Yet they also had no qualms about complimenting a complete stranger on her purchase. In short, Moynat appeals to a very modern, rarefied bunch. 

What else did I learn? Always be nice to sales people. What they do – day in, day out – is seriously hard work.”

Photography Frenchescar Lim, assisted by Sherman See-Tho Styling Imran Jalal

This story first appeared in Female’s October 2017 issue.

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