A Scandinavian retail company with a strong Chinese foundation makes its local debut, writes Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup
CLOTHING group Bestseller was established in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1975 and currently has 20 brands under its umbrella. These brands can be found in 45 countries and the company has a considerable presence in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and China.
The Chinese side of the business started in 1996 and is independent from the main Danish operations. It’s based in Beijing and according to CEO Dan Friis, Bestseller is one of the few international fashion companies that has been successful in penetrating the Chinese consumer market.
Most of the designs for its brands Only, Jack & Jones, Vero Moda and Selected —have been specifically adapted for local consumers there. These brands combined have around 8,000 physical stores in 500 cities, as well as direct shops in the Chinese digital marketplace.
Meanwhile, the company is now expanding to Southeast Asia, with Malaysia as its starting-off point in the region. The first Bestseller concept store here is in Suria KLCC with a 342-square metre retail space, housing merchandise from Jack & Jones and Vero Moda.
“We felt that there was no better place to enter Southeast Asia than Malaysia as it had all the perfect elements we were looking for, with a thriving retail sector that is home to sophisticated shopping malls and a well-developed e-commerce infrastructure,” says Friis.
Bestseller brands are currently available on online shopping website Zalora but the company plans to launch its own platform soon. It also wants to bring the Chinese e-commerce experience to Malaysian consumers.
“Our success in e-commerce does not mean that we will replace our physical stores with online stores, but we will turn them into ‘smart stores’ instead,” says Friis.
“In our China retail, we have already use smart features such as ‘Click & Collect’ or ‘Return in Store’ to process customer orders via a digital platform. Customers can also book their fitting rooms online, and find items ready and waiting for them when they arrive at the store.”
In China, Bestseller works closely with WeChat as its digital commerce partner on social media collaborations.
Friis says that they’re localising the technology platforms for Bestseller to have these sorts of shopping innovations in Malaysia this year.
STYLISH GENTS AND LADIES
Prior to the store opening, Bestseller held a media preview for its brands Jack & Jones, Vero Moda and Only. It included items from its current Fall/Winter collection, as well as the upcoming Spring/Summer range.
The three brands have very distinct style identities and target customers. Jack & Jones does casual men’s wear and its key selling point is its jeans. It has between 80 and 100 different styles of denim with different cuts, fabrics, colours and washes.
“Denim jeans have been the backbone of the brand since it started in 1989,” says Jesper Kristensen, creative director of Jack & Jones. “We mainly work with fabric mills in Turkey, Italy and China, and we work directly with the facilities to do the washes on the jeans.”
The brand also has an extensive range of shirts, T-shirts, jackets and sweaters. Spring will bring some pastel details on the clothes and Bauhaus-inspired graphic tees. The “non-sporty sportswear” collection utilises functional fabrics, with reflective panels on the jackets and trousers.
“This is fast fashion,” says Kristensen. “We’re a fast-moving company. What you see here is the Spring collection, in Summer it will be different.”
Vero Moda is equally fast-moving. It caters to fashionable young women and its designs closely follow catwalk trends, fashion forecast reports and customer demands. The clothes are feminine and elegant while the fabrics are light and flowy. Current looks include floral prints, ruffles and embroidered details.
Only is also a women’s wear brand but the style is edgier and more funky than Vero Moda. The designs are inspired by the fashion forward crowd in Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong. Its looks are identified as either cool tomboy or girl-next-door. It plans to release seven collections a year, with a flash collection each month to keep the looks fresh.
Only is not available at Suria KLCC but Bestseller will open a store soon.