Five years ago, social media was something most brands just experimented with as a side project. Today it’s their most important channel for marketing new products and communicating with customers. But Swedish fashion brand Chiquelle understood the significance of social media from the beginning.
“We were one of the first ones, especially in fashion and e-commerce, to work with influencers in Sweden and in the Nordics. This was back in 2013 when nobody had heard the word ‘influencer’. We’ve gained a lot of experience from all these years working this way,” says CEO and co-founder Pouya Boland.
Chiquelle’s business model is built on speed. They are constantly looking for the latest trends among fashion influencers. When they see something new and interesting, they go to work straight away. In only two weeks Chiquelle have their own garment out for sale on the market.
While traditional brands launch new collections a few times per year, for Chiquelle it’s a weekly occurrence. That way, they stay relevant and are able to quickly pick up on what’s hot in social media.
“Speed is essential. As we’re a fast-fashion company, we can produce the styles we like within a couple of weeks and make them available online straight away. We want to constantly launch new arrivals and collections to bring customers back to our webshop,” Pouya explains.
“Just as news channels only broadcast the latest news, influencers only want to showcase the latest trends. That’s why they’ll be working much more often with us than with other brands who aren’t as responsive or regular with their updates.”
Like many other successful online merchants, Pouya Boland won’t get into the specifics of their social media strategy. Partly because they don’t want to give away the “secret recipe” to their competitors. Today, Chiquelle has more than 500,000 followers on their Instagram accounts. Followers are inspired through daily updates where they’re able to watch and buy the garments on display through Instagram’s shopping tags.
How do you find new influencers to work with?
“We look for quality and not quantity. That means influencers who are representing fashion in the right way and are a good fit for our brand”.
How do you measure how well they perform?
“There are many ways to measure if influencers perform well or not. We don’t only look at sales necessarily, but rather focus on quality and future opportunities.”
Chiquelle was founded in 2012 by the then 22-year-old Pouya Boland, who was born in the Netherlands, and two Swedish family members. Now it’s a fast-growing company, without having been backed by venture capital. Last year revenue was 3 million euros, almost twice as much as the year before, with a gross profit margin of 15 percent. The goal is to reach 10 million euros in revenue by next year.
Unlike many competitors they sell their products exclusively on Chiquelle.com, promoting only their own brand.
What’s the next step for you in terms of marketing and reaching out?
“Marketing is changing quickly. Strategies that delivered results a couple of years ago might not work out now. The most important aspect of marketing is to keep on experimenting and finding new innovative ways to reach your customers.”
You’ve been selling online from the start. What advantage has that given you over traditional brands that come from the physical retail world?
“We have no limits. Physical retail companies depend on foot traffic coming to specific shopping locations or malls. We don’t have any limits in that we’re open 24/7 and can sell worldwide,” says Pouya.
With that being said, Chiquelle has actually sold clothes in physical stores with quite some success. Earlier this year they opened a pop-up store in Stockholm’s Mall of Scandinavia. At 2 am customers were already queueing for the temporary shop to open its doors.
“There were more than 500 people waiting in line, six hours before the opening. I think that truly shows our strength, even offline.”
One of their big projects for this year is to launch an app where customers can create a look-alike avatar of themselves to try new clothes on before buying them.
“We are working with AR technology for the app together with Figurative so that our customers can try on our products and create outfits virtually, from wherever they are. They’ll be able to see if specific products suit them, fit them, and match other items.”
The CEO and entrepreneur continues:
“We love to innovate and offer the latest technology in the market, and we also want to reduce our return rates. This technology will make things smoother for customers and give them a more realistic view of the products. This is especially important online, where you can’t really try and feel items before purchase.”
Read more about virtual dressing rooms here.