Unikool Stories. The story of Paul Magi: the surfer architect that fell in love with bags design.
I am half British, half Spanish and born in the 70s. I originally trained as an architect and have worked in a variety of industries before setting up Paul Magi in 2013. I am a sports fanatic and have travelled the world surfing over the past 10 years.
Before launching my label, I didn’t have project. It has been quite a steep learning curve. I’ve always wanted to design and make my own products. The label was born one day in 2012 when I went into a shop to get a replacement gym bag and found the brand had completely changed their line and everything was awful! I was in Bali at the time and I decided I was going to start designing bags and get some made. It would be less about fast fashion and more about well designed, well-made products. I am quite against the current “disposable culture” of cheap clothes and products that last maybe a year and then must be thrown away. So, from there, I started researching materials that age well.
It was important for the first product to be something unique. That first product became The Overnighter, which is a laptop bag that also opens like a small suitcase to hold a change of clothes.
From there, we are adding products that fit a lifestyle where work and play is a bit blurred. They are smart casual accessories and can work on the beach or at the office.
We try to get some PR coverage with new product launches and that has been quite successful so far. We are looking for active men aged 25-45 who like something a bit independent but not too edgy. We spend little to nothing on advertising but this is not necessarily a good thing. The label is self-funded, so does not have a large marketing budget, but it is growing organically, hopefully sustainably! We use social media. As much as possible, directly, in person.
Actually, I’m looking for a business partner. I have been working alone but if I found the right partner that could be interesting… I think the main quality for a business partner is someone you can trust and who is on the same wavelength as you. They need to have the same vision as you. It’s ideal if you have complementary skills but I am a bit of a generalist. For me specifically, I could benefit from assistance in all sorts of areas; distribution, social media, materials sourcing…
Although there are a lot of small bag labels, I think the choices consumers make are often between a high-street brand and a small label. Our customers buy from a mixture of labels, not exclusively from designers. So, a customer might be considering a bag from Samsonite and Tumi or Massimo Dutti vs one of ours.
The most difficult issue being a fashion designer lays in both production and sales. Finding the right production partners is challenging for small labels. Doing small volumes is not appealing for them, but essential for you. On the sales side, the large brands still dominate the high street, online presence, PR coverage.