Mate, a luxury e-bike brand backed by Jay-Z, is heading Down Under

Another four stores could open across Australia and New Zealand, depending on demand.

The move is the result of a distribution deal with ex-Crumpler colleagues Adam Wilkinson and Travis Wallis, who are both directors of Mate Australia. 

“It’s been a year in the making,” Wilkinson, who is also general manager of new business at Brand Collective, told Inside Retail

Wilkinson credits his and Wallis’ backgrounds in fashion retail and licensing for helping to get the deal over the line. 

“Mate is doing a lot in the fashion space, so there was a good synergy there,” Wilkinson said.

Riding the fashion trends

Mate was founded by sister and brother Julie Kronstrøm Carton and Christian Adel Michael in 2016. The brand is known for its customisable and foldable e-bikes. 

It received funding from Jay-Z’s venture-capital firm, Marcy Venture Partners, in May 2021, and has recently opened stores in the UK and Japan. It is now led by CEO Thomas Vulliez.

“It really is becoming a bigger business globally,” Wilkinson said. 

While the brand is benefiting from the overall growth of the e-bike market, which is projected to reach US$79.7 billion by 2026, from US$47 billion in 2021, at a CAGR of 11.1 per cent, its positioning as a luxury lifestyle product sets it apart. 

“It lends itself to the consumer who’s spending money on their trainers and their fashion. It’s a look, as well as being a good product,” Wallis told Inside Retail

This can be seen in the brand’s approach to collaborations. In 2020, it released a ‘Genius’ edition Mate bike for Moncler, which was on display in some of the luxury Italian brand’s store windows.

And last year, it teamed up with high-end streetwear brand Palm Angels to create a bike and capsule clothing collection inspired by California street culture. The collection includes a US$1200 hoodie. 

“It’s really positioned as an aspirational, almost fashion, brand,” Wilkinson said. “[But at the same time], the quality really stacks up, so that was the clincher for us.”

Replicating overseas success

Beyond opening their own stores and e-commerce site, Wilkinson and Wallis also plan to sell Mate bikes through online marketplaces, such as BikeExchange, which launched the brand last week, and select cycling specialists, such as St Kilda Beach Club in Melbourne. 

The brand will also continue to be available through Litmus Lab, a retail startup specialising in tech products, which sold the brand in Australia prior to Wikinson and Wallis’ distribution deal. And it will launch on another online marketplace focused on fashion in the coming weeks. 

“We think we’ve got the three major areas covered: the fashion space, the true bike enthusiast, and tech,” Wilkinson explained. 

While the e-bike market in Australia is becoming more competitive, Wilkinson and Wallis said it was still behind other markets, such as the US. 

“The international growth of the brand has been phenomenal, and we ultimately want to replicate it here,” Wilkinson said. “There’s a huge market for e-bikes in Australia, and we think external economic factors like petrol prices going up and cost of living going up will make it even more attractive to people, especially in urban areas, who want an alternative to driving their car and having to pay for car parking.” 

Wilkinson and Wallis plan to work with local influencers to build Mate’s brand awareness in Australia and New Zealand, but say the business already has a high profile, thanks to the slew of celebrities who have been photographed on the bikes. 

They include model Kendall Jenner, musicians Tommy Lee and Lil Baby, and actors Orlando Bloom and Kate Hudson.

Comments are closed.