In this series, we meet industry buyers from across Australia and New Zealand. Here, The Iconic chief category manager Mareile Osthus reveals the power of independent brands.
How many womenswear labels does The Iconic stock?
Currently, we stock more than 600 womenswear brands and the number increases each week. We want to make sure that we have something for all of our customers in ANZ, bringing them the best local and international brands.
What are some of the best performing niche/independent labels?
We are very proud of every single brand we are able to offer to our customers, but a few of our more niche brands that are well-received by our customers are: FLYNN, ATP, Loeffler Randall, Chimi Eyewear, Jerome Dreyfuss, Linda Farrow, Georgia Alice and Manning Cartell.
What about in the accessories space?
Accessories are driven by the consumer’s need to convey individuality and is one of our fastest growing areas, particularly regarding handbags, jewellery and sunglasses. Some niche brands within the space which our customers love are Reliquia, By Charlotte, Brie Leon, Johnny Loves Rosie, The Wolf Gang and Shevoke.
How do you source new brands – where do you find them?
We source brands from all over the world, from Europe to the US as well as more local brands we find in the ANZ region. Our teams are constantly travelling to find the best brands for our customers; we just came back from a Europe trip to London, Paris and Milan, and acquired 60 new brands. We are looking forward to being able to offer these brands to our customers very soon.
What do you look for when you’re buying?
The first thing we do is listen to our customer. In an online business, it’s easy to see what our shoppers are searching for. We then combine this with our trend buyer’s knowledge to assess what customers want to shop in the future, as there’s even a chance they don’t even know it yet.
What tips would you give to designers for attracting the attention of a buyer?
It’s usually important to show the point of difference to the customer, so what makes your product different from others?
There are so many great brands out there and the online shopping space is such a competitive environment so its important to stand out. One area that The Iconic is deeply committed to is social and environmental responsibility, and it is something we are seeing is also becoming increasingly important to our customers.
What are some best performing trends of the season?
This season we are selling a lot of fake fur jackets, leopard print, printed boots, slides, hoop earrings, jewellery with religious motifs, cat eye sunglasses, cross body bags, slogan tees, blazers and pink, lilac and wide leg trousers.
What do you predict will be the best trends next season?
Pink, pink and more pink, fluro colours, more animal prints, silk, natural fabrics, turbans, visors, coloured sunglasses, top handle bags, sunnies and micro bags. The latter look fab, even though they might not be very functional! Footwear is heading in two different directions; on one side we will be heavily influenced by Kim Kardashians perspex-style shoes and barely there footwear, and on the other, we will be wearing very simple-styled mules and sandals in earthy-toned leathers and fabrics.
What is the best part about being a buyer?
I’ve always liked the excitement of trends, at the same time as optimising the portfolio in regards to timings, shares of sub-categories and big bets on top items. It has to do with a lot of analytics as well as gut feel and this is an unbeatable combination. It is very rewarding as a buyer to see your product selection come to life and sell well, as it means you are satisfying the customer which at the end of the day is our number one objective. It is really important to be customer centric in all decisions to ensure you get the best results!
What is the most challenging?
Juggling the past, present and future is always a challenge. The uncertainty of the popularity of trends is the most challenging part of our business. We buy about six months ahead, with the risk of not knowing exactly what will happen next season and how the the market situation will be, as customer needs can change very quickly and they can be difficult to predict.
As a buyer, you need to be ready to switch heads at any given time. Whilst looking ahead to capture the next trends, you must also look back at the last six months to analyse and determine what should be purchased in the future, whilst also looking at current trade, drive opportunities and mitigating risks.
Assia Benmedjdoub, Editor, Ragtrader Magazine