MZ Wallace Discusses Giving Consumers a Quiet Luxury

Accessory brand MZ Wallace is all about enhancing an everyday lifestyle — and innovation is key. This means thoughtful product designs that stay true to customer favorites while exploring new, playful concepts and extending sustainability goals.

Created by Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice, the New York-based brand was founded with the goal of creating “design that does more.” As previously reported in WWD, MZ Wallace has seen a lot of momentum over the last few years, experiencing strong conversion rates from online traffic and opening a new SoHo boutique in August 2022.

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“We see ourselves as innovators, often going against industry standards and trends,” Zwirner and Eustice said. “We launched MZ Wallace with a single brick-and-mortar store before addressing any wholesale distribution. We started our e-commerce business in 2004, which was well before many of our peers, and is now over 60 percent of our business. For us, this has been a profitable strategy that has led to continued growth.”

Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice, founders of MZ Wallace.
Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice, founders of MZ Wallace.

Importantly, sustainability has been an integral part of the company’s decision-making for the last 10 years and in April 2023, MZ Wallace officially became a certified B Corporation.

“In the beginning, it was incredibly hard to even find sustainably sourced materials, but we kept at it,” said Zwirner and Eustice, who pushed mills to make changes and evolve with them to meet needs. “People think that a B Corp certification only refers to a company’s sustainability efforts, but it is so much more than that. It’s measuring our internal operations, how we give back to our community, and how we treat our employees and our environmental impact. Taking the B Impact Assessment was a collective process that involved our entire team. We gained our B Corp certification in April, and we are incredibly proud of this accomplishment.”

Today, MZ Wallace uses custom-developed proprietary nylons woven from fully recycled fibers that are Global Recycling Standard certified. One hundred percent of the brand’s solid Oxford and Bedford signature fabrics are Bluesign approved and its leather is processed in facilities that are certified by the ICEC. “We have come a long way, and it’s heartening to see the positive changes industry-wide.”

As the brand has grown and evolved, Zwirner and Eustice said they are proud to have developed a strong “cult-like” following, describing a “wide range of customers” who look to the brand for “school, travel, the gym or just day-to-day. Our customers are doers who live active lifestyles.” In their own way, this customer, they say, was at the forefront of quiet luxury, a consumer behavior trend that recently peaked which refers to understated items made with very high-quality materials.

“The quiet luxury trend has always existed for us,” said Zwirner and Eustice, who take a simple and pragmatic approach to design. “Quiet luxury is all about good design that is understated and timeless, which has been part of our DNA since the beginning.

“Our customers are discerning and expect products from us that not only look great but work for their lifestyles,” they said. “Our bags move with them throughout the day and adapt to their daily lives and needs, and they see what our thoughtfully designed product can do. We have a significant number of repeat customers, which to us is the greatest compliment.”

Moreover, the female founders say the MZ Wallace customer is “incredibly passionate” and loyal, engaging the brand across multiple platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Facebook in addition to brick-and-mortar stores and the brand’s direct-to-consumer site. MZ Wallace sites a 136 percent higher brand content engagement than the industry standard.

The brand founders note the potential they see in meeting Gen Z, digital natives, where they are, calling out TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest, in particular, and saying they have found that these young consumers ultimately value what the brand is all about: “quality, authenticity and great design.”

Still, as the MZ Wallace team stays true to their classic designs, “innovation is key. Experimenting has always been a part of [the] process and it’s taking risks often that leads to the next great idea. We consider our collections, the potential evolution of our products and our customers and their needs. We always want to look at design from both a style and lifestyle perspective.”

MZ Wallace Raffia collection.
MZ Wallace Raffia collection.

Recently, MZ Wallace experimented with a new fabric, launching a raffia collection, which represented the brand’s first fabrication offering outside of nylon and away from its ever-present quilted aesthetic. The launch was in response to customers asking for the MZ Wallace version of a summer tote.

“We wanted to address their warm weather needs the same way we address their everyday needs,” explained Zwirner and Eustice. “As we continue to broaden our offerings, we stay true to ourselves and the goal we set over 20 years ago: design bags that are modern and easy to use. We do not compromise on quality or style, and this has contributed to our continued growth. Our Raffia collection has the same design elements as our nylon totes and uses sustainably sourced Raffia from Madagascar. We debuted our line of hand-crocheted Raffia totes in May and our customers loved them.”

After seeing the collection greeted with consumer enthusiasm, MZ Wallace launched a second Raffia offering in August 2023 including a new color and mini size. Moving forward, Raffia will be a part of MZ Wallace’s core collection.

When prompted about the potential to enter new categories, Zwirner and Eustice said they still see an enormous amount of runway left in their category, but “we never say never.”

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