- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 10 January 2014 10:31, Updated 13 January 2014 10:01
Matt Jensen of M.J. Bale says online and offline work in unison. Nic Walker
They’ve got edgy websites, Facebook pages and clever publicity campaigns: welcome to a new crop of Australian men’s fashion brands, which are on the rise and defying a generally downward trend in retail.
“You’ve got to be good on and offline,” says Matt Jensen, the founder and chief executive of M.J. Bale.
Authenticity and quality are key to success in the growing and highly competitive menswear segment, he says. The son of a NSW grazier, Jensen is “passionate” about natural fibres and believes the company’s relationship with the merino wool industry gives it soul.
Most of M.J. Bale’s sales come via its retail stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth but direct-to-customer, or online transactions, make up about 8 per cent.
Meanwhile, Kloke is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Amy and Adam Coombes, who started their business in 2011. Kloke online was launched in October 2012 and the couple opened their first store in Brunswick Street in Melbourne late last year. They make men’s and women’s clothes and engage with customers through Facebook and their blog.
“We prefer a little cocktail; direct through bricks and mortar and online,” Adam Coombes says. “We feel they work in unison. The bricks and mortar provides us with a new voice, a chance to speak with our customers. Online has provided the ability to produce more content behind the brand and product. We’ve found customers visiting our store and then purchasing online, and vice-versa.”
Karen Webster, an associate professor at RMIT University, says she is seeing a spate of Australian designers working in a more personalised way.
“For example, I’ve recently gone to designers’ studios where they fit you; they have champagne events after work where they’ll get a group of people to come in and look at their selection,” Webster says.
IBISWorld says the outlook for menswear in Australia is good despite the entry of foreign brands such as Zara, Top Shop and Gap, all of which carry menswear lines.
Read the full story in The Australian Financial Review: Menswear a cut above in retail fashion