LONDON — Known for its chunky shoes, Eytys has become a member of what many call the Chinese student uniform club — meaning it is popular among the country’s young, affluent and often Western-educated fashion consumers, along with the likes of Balenciaga, Chrome Hearts and Thom Browne.
So, as COVID-19 seals China’s border, selling to the market directly feels like a natural step for the brand. The Swedish brand on Thursday said it has joined Alibaba’s direct-to-consumer platform Tmall, in a bid to boost its local presence.
Jonathan Hirschfeld, Eytys cofounder, said he has seen Chinese consumers’ spending power since the opening of its Brewer Street store in London. A quarter of the brand’s revenue now comes from Asia.
“We realized that most of our clients are Chinese students in London. Obviously, there’s a lot of tourists, too, and we realized that we had great traction in that community,” he said.
“From the get-go, I think Asia, and especially Shanghai or mainland China, has had quite a strong pool for us. It is, on many levels, a very interesting market and interesting country and interesting culture. We want to have access to that community, to understand them better, and to be able to offer them exclusive products,” he said.
He said he visited Shanghai with the brand’s other cofounder Max Schiller at the end of 2019 for the streetwear and culture fair Innersect Shanghai, and it was an eye-opener.
“We met other European and American brands, too, that had kind of the same experience that it’s such a different world. There’s so much that we can learn from here. I think if you look at other industries, there have been people already looking at what’s next from Asia and China, especially, and trying to adapt that into their business model,” Hirschfeld said.
They also managed to connect with a lot of people there, such as shop owners, people who write for the industry, stylists and other creatives.
“That’s how we try to scale the business into new markets. We try to find people that we like on a personal level and that we connect with and then try to involve them in our business,” he added.
Prior to the Tmall launch, the brand set up official accounts on Weibo, WeChat and Xiaohongshu to promote and engage with the local audience.
“We learned so much from the Chinese market during COVID-19. It seems like China kind of leapfrogged the rest of the world when it comes to how you communicate in an online environment. These social media apps have taught us a lot of things and we can scale and learn our business here,” Hirschfeld said.
The brand currently is going into the market alone. A Tmall Partner is helping the brand to operate the online business, but the rest is being handled in-house.
Eytys’ Tmall store will offer the same range of products at a similar price point as it does in the rest of the world. There will be exclusive items dedicated to the market as well.
In the long run, the brand also sees opening a physical footprint in the market. Its current wholesale partners in the market include I.T. and Lane Crawford.