LONDON — ASOS.com, the London-based online fashion retailer, which made its name spotlighting celebrity-influenced looks, is setting its sights globally.
The company began marketing itself in Sweden and Denmark two years ago — it already ships worldwide — and is considering targeting countries such as the U.S. and Japan, with the eventual plan to introduce separate ASOS sites for different countries.
ASOS, like Net-a-porter, appears to have sidestepped the recession that’s hit much of the British clothing industry and has added labels such as Gap and Mango to its mix of house and outside brands.
Last month, ASOS reported sales jumped 104 percent in the year to March 31 to 165.4 million pounds, or $284.8 million, and its net profits doubled during the year, rising to 10 million pounds, or $17.2 million, from 5 million pounds, or $8.6 million in the previous year. Dollar figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the period.
“The continued popularity of Internet shopping provided a strong backdrop [to the results] and with the weakness in sterling, our international sales took a significant step up,” said Nick Robertson, chief executive officer. Nineteen percent of ASOS’s revenues during the year came from international sales.
Robert Bready, product and trading director at ASOS, partly attributed the company’s resilience during the downturn to its target market — 18-to-24-year-olds, who aren’t saddled with heavy debts and mortgages. Bready said operating solely as an online retailer also attracts young consumers too pressed for time and money to make shopping trips to brick-and-mortar stores.
“You log on to our Web site, flick through a couple of pages of product, order it and it’s at your desk the next day — it’s taken five minutes and there’s no other cost,” he said. “You’ve not had to leave your office or eat into your social time.”
At its founding in 2000, the Web site focused on selling clothing that replicated celebrities’ outfits, and was known as As Seen on Screen (ASOS). However, it’s since repositioned itself as a fashion retailer with editorial content that shows celebrities such as Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung and Peaches and Pixie Geldof wearing current trends.
“It’s about being less literal, but still using celebrity as endorsement,” Bready said.
Half the Web site’s sales are made up of ASOS’s own label, designed by an in-house team. The company recently added a higher-end line, ASOS Black, and its own denim label, ASOS Jeans. Other revenues come from high street brands such as Karen Millen, Oasis and Kookai as well as contemporary labels, including Paul & Joe, Manoush and Acne. Gap and Mango will begin selling online in the U.K. through ASOS in August. And to ensure that brands of all levels are comfortable selling on the site, it’s structured so consumers have to specifically navigate to designer brands, meaning a pair of Acne jeans won’t appear alongside a high street brand.
Although ASOS has shown strength during the recession, the company said first-quarter sales growth had slowed to 52 percent from 95 percent in the previous year. Bready said he is “focusing on” the potential impact of the U.K.’s 7.2 percent unemployment rate on young consumers.
However, on the flip side, he said only 44 percent of the U.K. target audience the company recently surveyed was aware of the brand. “With less than half the audience knowing we exist, that’s huge potential to attract new customers,” Bready said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast