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ITW – “A nice meeting in Meise!”

In the heart of the small town of Meise in Belgium began a nice little tale of love and clothes. Originally from Meise, Stéphanie created Mamezelle, a womenswear shop that offers a selection of independent European brands. Meanwhile, she met Sylvain and gave him the fashion bug. Won over by everything the town had to offer, Sylvain wished to open his own shop inspired by Mamezelle, dedicated to menswear. And from that nice little encounter Messieur was born!

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You look after the Messieur shop, but there is also Mamezelle, a nice little love story… How did this adventure all begin?

It all began when I met my partner, Stéphanie Hudders. She had recently opened her store Mamezelle in Meise (Belgium); I was still a government employee. My dream since I was a child was to open a business of my own. I saw how Stéphanie was handling things and how passionate she was about her shop and that made me think about the future. She has a boutique for women in Meise and the people here love the shop. I originally come from Leuven but started visiting Meise since we were a couple, so I started exploring this town. As I was also passionate about clothing, I saw that a shop for men in Meise and its surrounding area was missing. That made me brainstorm about opening my own store, a Mamezelle but for men, named Messieur. I told my partner about the idea and she was so excited that there was no reason at all to doubt my idea, so I quit my job and started my dream, Messieur.

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Messieur and Mamezelle offer a particular style of clothing, but especially at an affordable price. How do you choose the labels you want to sell in your shop?

We find it very important to sell brands that are exclusive, we don’t want the whole city to walk around in the same clothes, so at first we look to see if the brands aren’t distributed in the neighbourhood. The labels must have a personality, a story to tell. For example, with OLOW, the collection is made by collaborating with artists. When I see a piece from the collection, I can say, that’s OLOW’s style; we strive to have this with all of our brands. Also we want to offer products at an honest price so that they remain accessible to all of our customers.

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What do the people of Meise come looking for in Messieur?

Well at first, it’s exclusive to have a men’s clothing store in Meise, another thing is that we are not a chain but a concept store with a totally different atmosphere. The men that come shopping here are looking for clothes that you can’t find anywhere else; the advice we give them about clothes is also why they come here, including a beer or a coffee while they are trying on clothes. That’s the standard service we give to our customers. This makes shopping a relaxing trip. We don’t only have customers from Meise, but also from the villages around and even cities where it’s hard to find this kind of store. As there’s also Mamezelle here in Meise, the shopping experience is for men as well as for women. Couples can forget about going to the cinema, or an adventure park and just come shopping at Mamezelle and Messieur.

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You opened the shop two years ago, right? How would you evaluate your situation today?

I opened my shop four months ago, on March 9th, 2017, and my partner started Mamezelle in November 2015. The opening weekend for Messieur was a blast, it was a very good start, and it kept growing over the following months, and still is. Every day I meet new customers. It’s nice to hear that most of the people visit the store because they saw friends or family members with nice clothes and asked them where they got them from; from Messieur of course! We also sponsor events and try to be present at local markets to increase our brand awareness.

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More personally, what inspires and drives you? How do you transcribe this into your Messieur/Mamezelle project?

I love seeing people walking around with clothes that they bought from Messieur or Mamezelle, knowing it all started by looking for the perfect pieces in showrooms, personally picked out and eventually sold in our shops. I love to be creative, which is very positive for the marketing side of things, I also love to work with figures, another important aspect, if not the most, of having your own business. I love what I do!

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What do you think is the key piece to have in a men’s closet?

A shirt. You can wear it for every occasion, casual, chic…

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Meise is a small town in Belgium; wasn’t it a bit risky to set up shop here? Why did you choose to settle down here?

Well when my partner, Stéphanie, started Mamezelle, people questioned whether it would work in a small village such as Meise, but they were wrong, it works very well. People said the same about Messieur, but I can see now that a shop like this was really missing here in Meise. My customers are also very happy that I took the risk of opening Messieur here. Meise is a small town located near the capital, Brussels. The Atomium, a famous tourist-attraction in Belgium, is located five minutes from here. Meise also has a famous botanic garden, situated 100 meters from Messieur. We could have set up our stores in a big city but we love the atmosphere you can create in small towns, that’s why we chose to settle down here. People will start knowing Meise as the town where Messieur and Mamezelle are located. People also love it that they don’t have to go to a big city to buy clothes; no more crowds or time wasted looking for a parking space.


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Marion Bureau
Marion Bureau
Chargée de communication chez OLOW

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