In recent two–three years, spectacular changes in ownership of the big multinationals, and changes in the methods of distribution of lingerie to the final consumer (specifically, the move by brand owners to set up their own retail operations) have been observed. In your view, what all are the root causes behind this, and what could be the consequences thereon?
Today’s market is a consumer’s market. Consumers rightly do not only expect fashionable products in excellent quality for their money, but they also expect a pleasant shopping experience to go with it. Owned and operated (o&o) retail offers manufacturers the opportunity to really showcase their brands, present their product in the way it should be and create an emotional experience for consumers.
Triumph has the privilege to work together successfully with approx. 40,000 retail trade customers all across the world. Along with our franchise and partner stores, our o&o retail business (altogether 1,620 branches to date) offers us the opportunity to complete our offer by presenting our entire collections under one roof in selected locations.
I believe that in the long run name brand manufacturers and dealers will need to rely on combination of distribution channels to reach as many target consumers as possible. Depending on market habits and consumer trends, a constant evaluation has to take place: will we reach that trend-hungry 19 year-old better in a large department store with many other top brands or in a chic mono label boutique? This question cannot be answered in a general way, it may differ from market to market.
Changes in ownership: Manager-run corporations may change their strategic direction more frequently than for example a family run business like Triumph. Being family owned Triumph is in the lucky position of being able to determine its strategic outlook in longer terms.
So, do you think this demands the player in this market to identify its strategic core competence as a designer, a brand or retailer? What concepts will drive the industry forward?
Successful brand manufacturers clearly need to be top notch both with regard to the quality and target group suitability of their designs and the strength and attractiveness of their brands. Without that, there’s only short-term marketing activities that can trigger economic success – which is often short lived and does not contribute to a sustainable positive image. Whether a brand manufacturer also wants to be a retailer is a matter of choice – as discussed above, Triumph is convinced that we will reach even broader consumer groups with a combination of Triumph Stores and traditional retail. But there are other manufacturers that have good reasons to refrain from branded stores of their own.
There is no “best concept”, but I am convinced that a company that has an excellent product and a clear target group in mind is well equipped to be successful in the market – albeit with a distribution concept that best fits their brand characteristics and target group.
It takes enormous efforts to evolve new 'successful' products. How is this done at Triumph? Do you have any new product launch in pipeline? Can you please tell us about it?
Consumers’ desires and wishes are at the heart of each product innovation at Triumph. Intensive consumer research reveals tendencies that we share with our design, development and textile engineering teams across markets. Once they present us product or material innovations, we fine-tune and perfect our approaches. Prototype testing/ fittings finalize the product development process.
The next sloggi spring/ summer collection (2009) will see a true product innovation: With sloggi Light Cotton, sloggi links onto the exceptional success of the Hot Hips concept by presenting this popular cut in a brand new material mix using 91 per cent cotton, thus appealing to a whole new target group of women who prefer to wear cotton on their skin. The extremely high-quality woven cotton fabric provides a wonderful, natural wearer comfort. An unbelievable 50 stitches per inch ensure a smooth texture that is opaque at the same time. Even after frequent laundering, material pilling is near to impossible. The extremely light bras, strings, tangas, hipsters and shorts are produced using Lasercut technology. They sit snug on the body, like a second skin, and create a natural silhouette.
While there is still the plethora of 'real' brands, anonymous players adds to the heat of competition. In such a situation, what helps Triumph to triumph over the chunk of market share?
We have love brands which are relevant to our consumer. She and he know that our products excel in quality, fit and design, a reputation Triumph has earned in the 120 years of its existence. We work with our own design teams in Europe and Asia in order to ensure that the latest trends in lifestyle and fashion are reflected by our collections. Textile engineers ensure that our materials and the production is always state of the art, often way ahead from our competitors. External professionals such as Class A athletes Anni Friesinger (German speed skater) or Emma Snowsill (Australian triathlon athlete) help us to continuously improve our Triaction sports products, for example. Triumph stands for immaculate quality and outstanding craftsmanship and we never stop to be interested in learning
The Triumph Inspiration Award triggers fruitful interaction between the fashion house Triumph and young up-and-coming fashion designers from all over the world. This campaign integrates our great fashion expertise and supports young hopefuls: A commercial adaption of the winning design will be produced in a Limited Edition and sold in our own Stores. The winner will also get the opportunity to do a training in one of our design centres. These are activities that make a brand alive, something unachievable for retail brands.
Apart from business, what does Triumph’s code of conduct say in favor of CSR & Environmental responsibilities, and how does Triumph walk the talk?
As a global company we act responsibly with respect to our environment. And the application of ecological standards often turns out to be a source of innovation, both in the products themselves and in the manufacturing process. This is why we are constantly testing our environmental protection measures and rapidly implementing any new findings we make. Numerous programmes integrate studies of environmental compatibility as well as the separation and recycling of waste, and we are also constantly looking into how we can make do with less packaging material. We also implement energy-saving concepts at all Triumph International locations in order to reduce CO2 emissions. As early as 2003, we were given the prestigious German B.A.U.M. Environmental Award for our many years of consistent commitment to environmental and consumer protection issues.
We also offer our consumers the chance to wear their environmental awareness on their skin. We use the latest, ecologically certified materials for our collections. In addition, this year, the Triumph brand is presenting the first lingerie collection in biodegradable elastane. There is also a sloggi range in which the fabric has not only been medically tested for body compatibility and freedom from pollutants but is also manufactured from certified organic cotton.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.