Mansur Gavriel

Photography by Charlie Schuck

April 30 2015

Hallmarked by simplicity, Mansur Gavriel was conceived in a manner that was any-thing but. Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel first met in 2010 at a concert in Los Angeles. The two became immediate friends and found commonality in the flower market they visited together the following day. Their shared appreciation of understated beauty and mutual attraction to both the natural and the colorful helped them lay the groundwork for their eponymous line. With Mansur in LA, and Gavriel in Berlin, the line was conceived via email. In 2012, both moved to New York City where, after two years of long distance conceptualization, Mansur Gavriel bags finally became a reality.

Their shared commitment to pared back elegance and quality materials led the two friends to create their signature carryalls with leather sourced from a traditional Tuscan tannery. Mansur Gavriel combines vegetable-tanned leather with an unassuming and brilliant design principle; each bag is free from embellishment and finished with a brightly colored interior. Their classic silhouettes are designed to function for the carrier’s daily needs, and travel with them for years to come.

Since Mansur Gavriel debuted last year, the duo’s handbags have quickly become a sensation with their first shipments selling out rapidly, building momentum for the brand that continues to gain speed. We spent a day with the friends learning about their concept, their inspiration, and the secret to their success.

How would you describe Mansur Gavriel and where did your concept come from?

Elegance and easiness. Iconic shapes, strong color, and beautiful materials.

Was there a specific moment when you both realized that you shared the potential for something more than just friendship?

The morning after we met for the very first time, we went to the Los Angeles flower market. At that moment, we realized we shared a very specific and nuanced aesthetic.

What qualities are most important to you in a friend?

Honesty, loyalty, and humor. A shared vision and goal.

In a business partner?

Reliability and an open willingness to listen to one another’s point of view.

What do you think was the tipping point for Mansur Gavriel’s success? Can you define a moment?

From our first shipment to stores, the bags sold out very quickly. The momentum continued to build from then forward.

How does it feel to know that you make something with such a strong following?

We have both been long interested in the idea of what it means to create a brand, and feel very fortunate for the opportunity to begin slowly building something with more and more dimensionality over time.

Elegance and easiness. Iconic shapes, strong color, and beautiful materials.

Outside of Mansur Gavriel, what do you two enjoy doing together?

Looking at inspiration, visiting our favorite spots in NYC and Los Angeles. Cooking and talking.

As Mansur Gavriel, you seem to have a special appreciation for color. You often post pictures related to hues found in objects or places . Where does this attraction to color come from and how do you choose which colors you use in your bags?

We love how color is pure emotion, and that it derives from nature. We have always been interested in how simple juxtaposition can express different things—for example, our cammello with sun expresses this wonderful contrast between a hue that feels very natural and neutral with something that is more of a shocking pop. You can find the same contrast in nature, such as flowers or fruit, and the end result is pure warmth. Alternatively, our black with ballerina expresses an entirely different emotion. It’s more subdued, serene, and classic.

Explain: #happygirlhappybag

A bag only becomes meaningful when the owner enjoys using it.

NYC or LA?

Both!

Why?

NYC is full of infectious energy and opportunity. Los Angeles is a warm sunny day…dreamy and inspiring.

You both moved great distances to get Mansur Gavriel going. That must have been an act of faith. Can you tell us more about that move and the process leading up to it? How did you two settle on New York City?

Relocating was definitely an act of blind faith. We were both nervous in the early stages of development when everything was still abstract, but I think we decided early on we were going to jump in 100%, as blind as it may have felt. We felt New York City was the epicenter of everything we needed—advice from talented and experienced people in the industry, press, a common meeting place for the best retailers, etc.—and we needed to really give it our all, since we were (and still are) self funded and basically betting everything on this project.

Current food obsession:

Depends where we are! In NYC, we love the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown. In Los Angeles, we love stopping by Axe in Venice for freshly ground chai tea on the back patio. When we’re in Italy for production, our obsessions are neverending… branzino, fresh fennel, black squid pasta, handmade agnolotti with butter and sage, radicchio traviso with wonderful olive oil, fried artichokes with lemon, fritto misto, and prosecco…

What is a single attribute that you would say makes something beautiful (or is a defining aspect of beauty)?

Vitality.