Mackage

Mackage is an outerwear company based in Montreal, Quebec. Founded in 1999 by designers Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan, the company has grown to become “one of the most prestigious contemporary outerwear brands in North America.” The founders say Mackage was created with the belief that outerwear is “an integral element of fashion. When the weather calls for layering, a coat isn’t just a part of an outfit — it becomes the outfit itself.”

Mackage coats are gorgeous, generally form-fitting, and have signature details such as big collars, leather belts, loops and epaulettes. They also have a distinctive fur #mackagecollar on the puffy winter coat collection they launched in 2006.

mackage collar
Mackage Collar, courtesy mackage.com

What makes Mackage stand out?

Design and concept. The design of the coats and jackets includes fine tailoring, pleasing silhouettes, and stylish details. The coats and jackets fit beautifully.

Conceptually, they are the only Canadian brand that is well known in terms of stylish outerwear. Their philosophy that outerwear is “an integral element of fashion” sets them apart from other designers. As Canadians with four seasons and often harsh weather, we may think of coats and jackets as purely functional. But Mackage asks us to think differently. They combine function with fashion and they nail it. They focus mostly on leather and woollen coats, but they also manage to make puffy coats stylish. And that’s quite a feat.

Mackage also lends their coats to celebrities and influencers for special events. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, for example, was seen sporting a borrowed Mackage coat

mackage trudeau cbc
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau borrowed a Mackage coat for the funeral of Céline Dion’s husband René Angelil in 2016. Photo by Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press

Unfortunately, while the company is Canadian and the designs are Canadian, Mackage coats are no longer manufactured in Canada. When I purchased my first Mackage coat in 2008, and my first sister-brand Soia and Kyo coat in 2007, they each proudly and prominently displayed tags which read “made in Canada.” When I purchased another Soia and Kyo coat in 2009 and another in 2013, the tags were more hidden and said “made in China.” The quality of the newer coats isn’t quite at the level of the older, Canadian coats, but they are still beautiful and a cut above most other outerwear options.

How do Mackage’s signature elements translate into their web and social media presence?

The title in the tab for the website is “luxury coats and jackets, outerwear.” It is a largely white website with black type and big photos. It is all about the clothing. Their menu items are atypical in that the winter coat section is called “Attack the Storm,” the current shop offerings are entitled “Fall/Winter’16” and the overall shop item is “Collections.” Words matter, and Mackage knows how to select the right messaging and framing to present their products as luxurious and fashionable.

Mackage’s Facebook account is “House of Mackage.” They are positioning themselves as much more than a coat designer/manufacturer; they are a design house. This positioning implies a level of prestige and fashionability. The photos on the page show us models in Mackage designs walking around Montreal or stomping across bridges or cobblestones in international locations. They are presenting themselves as designers on the international stage.

Their Twitter account is filled with images from Toronto’s fashion week, including high-end, custom-branded pastries and exquisite packaging. There are photos from happy customers at New York fashion week. This feed is all about fashion.

Mackage’s Instagram account includes many of the same photos found on the Facebook page, but also includes some “everything is hard before it becomes easy” type inspirational images. They are a design house as well as a “you go get it, girl” motivator. They are an example of what can be done when one thinks differently and pushes themselves outside of the ordinary.

What can we learn from Mackage?

The “why” behind a brand is imperative. The founders began their company with a clear concept based on the belief that outerwear should be a key component of fashion. They appealed to women who shared that philosophy and then grew to share that concept with men and women across the world. They developed designs that stand out and look luxurious – even if they cost less than $1,000. Affordable luxury is a growing market interest, and Mackage is at the forefront in Canada.

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