Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Grown-Up´s Guide to Denim

Donna Ida may have built a loyal following as a multi-brand denim destination, but things change and so must business, founder Donna Ida Thornton insists. Adding her own Ida collection to the mix in 2013 was not without its risks: what if her customers didn't buy it among all the already famous labels, or what if those labels took umbrage to one of their stockists encroaching on their territory? But the risk has emphatically paid off.

"I launched Ida as a high-waisted denim brand with an edit of contemporary separates to complement the existing designer selection at Donna Ida," she explained. "I found that although shoppers loved a true-waisted fit, I didn't have enough options from premium denim brands to satisfy their needs. Our offering has increased fourfold since the launch and now we offer over 100 styles, which includes denim, cashmere, shirts and blouses, accessories, and jumpsuits. "

Despite asserting that she always wanted her stores and website to be multi-brand boutiques, Thornton revealed that the percentage of sales which come from Ida products is increasing - more due to customer demand than any over-arching growth strategy.

"We are currently trading at 35 per cent of the mix, which is where we wanted to be by December 2016," she told us. "We hit that figure by the first week of February, so at this rate by December 2016 we will be looking more like 50 per cent at least."

So does this mean that denim favourites such as J Brand and cashmere from Bella Freud could soon lose their place on the Donna Ida rails? Definitely not, the businesswoman says, it's just a case of hedging her sartorial bets.

"I love the multi-brand experience," she nodded. "Even looking around our Belgravia boutique today I found myself picking up our own brand, but also key pieces from other labels. Being pure multi-brand has always felt dangerous to me: you don't have complete control of your own business and are reliant on third-party suppliers to feed your business. What if our biggest supplier decided to stop wholesaling? What if they saw how well we were selling their brand and decided to open a shop right next door to us? What if they closed? As much as I like shopping multi-brand as a consumer, and selling a multi-brand offering to my customers, from a business perspective there are considerable downsides to consider."

Asserting that the 50-50 mix works well for her business and that she doesn't have aspirations to outgrow that balance, Thornton is nevertheless forging ahead with new launches - including an autumn/winter 2016 offering that celebrates her 10th year of trading.

"Our key pieces have really captured everyone's imagination," she smiled, noting key jean shapes, a new culotte-dungaree style, a pussy-bow silk blouse, and her colourful cashmere as particular winners. "Bedding in those key denim styles methodically along with the cashmere and blouse shapes have been key, and now that we keep making what works time and again, it has given us the solid support of a loyal customer base. It will be following that strategy that will take us through the rest of the new categories we will enter in to: jersey, jackets, and accessories. The approach won't be spray and pray though, each category will be launched properly using the knowledge we have gathered from 10 years of selling to the world's most stylish women in London's key locations."

No comments:

Post a Comment