aussiebum success story

  1. 6,931 Posts.
    This story just shows how narrow minded big money was in Oz when he tried to get it marketed in Oz.

    This is symptomatic, I'm afraid, and while it continues how can we trade our way to prosperity.


    AussieBum cossies making waves overseas
    October 20, 2005 - 10:20AM

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    Australian fashion designer Sean Ashby has come a long way in the four years since using his life savings to set up men's swimwear and clothing business - aussieBum.

    The company has doubled in size each year since then and this past financial year earned more than $5 million in sales and carries no debt.

    "The business has grown five or six times in terms of volume, but also awareness," Ashby, 37, said.

    Ashby, himself a keen surfer and swimmer, worked in the entertainment industry before thinking up the idea of aussieBum when he found it hard to find a good pair of men's cossies.

    So he used his $20,000 in savings to make a series of prototypes and buy materials, and began approaching local Australian retailers.

    "The swimwear I wanted was not available so I took a bit of faith and just did it," he said.

    "I had some savings for a house so I used that money to invest in getting all of the range created."

    But Ashby found local retailers did not see any potential in the product.

    AdvertisementSo he took the rejections on the chin and instead launched an internet retailing business and began approaching department stores in Europe and the United States.

    "It was more about proving (wrong) some people locally that said our product wasn't relevant," Ashby said.

    "They just didn't see the value of an Australian brand competing against international brands. Today the tables are turned and that has been the biggest motivation."

    AussieBum is manufactured in Australia with the business run completely out of the company's headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt.

    The brand is now sold in some of the biggest department stores in the world and is distributed to more than countries via internet sales.

    The line is the fourth biggest brand in British department store Selfridges, and was recently given its own concepts space there.

    It is also sold exclusively alongside brands such as Calvin Klein at German department store KaDeWe.

    And celebrities including Ewan McGregor and Billy Connolly are fans of the cossies while Aussie pop singer Kylie Minogue featured buff men wearing aussieBum cossies in the video clip for her song Slow.

    Soccer darling and men's fashion trendsetter David Beckham has also been spotted in the brand.

    "It has taken on its own little cult revolution," Ashby said of aussieBum.

    "Internationally, you have got Ewan McGregor ordering our gear and Kylie Minogue and all of those people."

    The aussieBum range has since been extended to include underwear, singlet tops, t-shirts and boardshorts - a move which offers a promising future for the brand.

    And now, the brand's biggest competitors are international fashion houses such as Dolce and Gabbana, Ralph Lauren and Diesel.

    "We now have people coming out from Italy, looking at what we are doing and actually identifying our trends," said Ashby, who ships around 10,000 units a week from his Sydney office.

    "You would think swimwear is very big internationally, but it isn't and there aren't many companies that specialise just in men's swimwear."

    The brand's success had been likened to other successful Aussie labels such as Sass and Bide.

    "The only difference is that while they became successful in other countries, we became successful literally overnight in over 70 countries," Ashby said.

    Ashby consciously and unashamedly marketed his gear to the often fashion conscious and high disposable income gay community, which prompted an interest in the more mainstream market.

    "I tackled the hardest market that everyone is very envious of and would love to be able to market to," he said.

    "We tackle the trendsetter market and the gay market is a trend setter. They identify new ideas and new styles a lot faster and accept them a lot faster."

    Ashby is all smiles, very happy with himself for proving his critics wrong. But he admits the brand may not be for everyone.

    "We know that not everyone can wear it and if you wear it, you have got to have confidence," Ashby said.

    "It is a body thing, nothing else."

    He said part of the label's attraction was that aussieBum wasn't readily available in shops.

    But the other attraction was that it was 100 per cent Australian.

    "A lot of big brands are now made out of China and Australia is seen as a real hot property in terms of design and fashion," Ashby said.

    Ashby said manufacturing locally meant costs were around five times as high as if he were to move offshore.

    "(But) what we have here is quality products," he said.

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