My Bob: The Nomadic Hat
Geoffrey Moreels, founder of the savvy hat brand My Bob, tells TLmag how his company’s success is largely a story of encounters.
MY BOB started out in 2008 as an idea in the head of Geoffrey Moreels – HEC graduate, former paramedical sector executive, avid traveller, fan of personal connections, and owner of an enormous network of contacts. Now, the brand is the perfect embodiment of what is noblest and most human in globalisation. We met with this fortunate company director.
TLmag: According to you, you knew nothing about fashion when you started out. How did you manage to create such a coherent concept?
Geoffrey Moreels: MY BOB is largely a story of encounters. Initially, when I wanted to take my career in a new direction, I had several ideas in my head, some of which were very far indeed from the world of fashion or accessories. A friend who had lived in Ecuador told me about the hats they produced down there. I loved the idea, and developed a customisation concept around this product before launching MY BOB.
TLmag: Customisation seems to be in vogue at the moment. Yet you say you are not at all aware of trends?
GM: It’s true. However, I was thrilled to discover, soon after creating the brand, that the panama hat has again become terrifically trendy. Regarding customisation, at the beginning I imagined that this would revolve around the end-customer. But for practical and financial reasons, I ultimately chose to focus this concept around our partner boutiques. At the trade fairs in which we participate, buyers can personalise their orders.
TLmag: How does that work, on a practical level?
GM: Every season, we launch a collection inspired by a destination that resonates with us. For this autumn/winter, we chose the Italian ski resort of Cortina, in the Dolomites. We designed fedoras, caps, bonnets, etc. that our customers can embellish with small, embroidered accessories: ribbons, feathers or hand-embroidered brooches from an artisanal workshop in Mumbai. These accessories are real little gems that make each hat unique.
TLmag: So your supply network is at the heart of MY BOB’s DNA?
GM: This brand is the convergence of a totally Belgian idea with the expertise of a really good band of suppliers located across the four corners of the world: Spain for our fedoras, Ecuador for the panamas, India for the embroideries, Italy for the woven straw used in our summer models, etc. For about a year, a Parisian stylist – another fortunate encounter – has been supporting us to take our collections in a more fashionable direction. His insights have given the brand a great boost. On my side, I manage the business strategy, while continuing to develop our partner network. A third person handles the back office.
TLmag: Like accessory brands such as Delvaux, your distribution is stronger in Asia than in Belgium, for example.
GM: That is indeed the case. MY BOB is present in some superb sales points in China and Japan. Recently, we are also being represented by an American agent, who is responsible for strengthening our position in that market. And we hope that our participation at the next White salon will lead to opportunities that place our summer 2018 collection in top-rate European boutiques, especially in Milan.
TLmag: Did the first phase of your career enable you to take a more pragmatic approach towards this project?
GM: Without a doubt. Even though it is already quite successful, MY BOB is a concept in continuous development. Our attention to detail applies to the product itself – we were the first to create an ultra-light fedora for summer – but also to our packaging, our logo (Ed: A ‘B’ that is affixed to every hat) and our customer service, which strives to approach perfection.WBDM – Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode is closely collaborating with TLmag for interviewing a selection of Belgian talents in fashion and design from Wallonia and Brussels, in order to promote them on the international scene.
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