Anine Bing sets sights on global expansion, celebrates anniversary campaign
Anine Bing is a brand on a global mission. Eponymously founded in 2012 by Danish style influencer Anine Bing and husband Nicolai Bing, it has since made a name in the accessible luxury space for its ‘timeless’ soft tailoring and Scandinavian simplicity. Now, signalling its ambitions with a major-league campaign featuring model Irina Shayk, it’s planning to double its store count to 20, grow its global revenue by 40%, and enter a new market, China, all in 2022.
“We’ve seen some great traction with the brand overall over the past few years, even through Covid,” Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Annika Meller told FashionNetwork.com via Zoom. “There are a few things that make us feel it’s time to push the growth button: obviously we have momentum with the brand and product. We also have the right team in place, and there are markets we have been looking at for quite some time.”
The brand has been working towards a global expansion since at least 2018: a previous funding round of $15m that closed in 2018 accelerated the business’ sales and ecommerce traffic, with a further aim to use the funds to continue to expand internationally. Lead investor Felix Capital, a London-based fund, noted at the time that since the initial investment, the label had ‘doubled revenue year over year, with web traffic growing in line.’ The brand also secured $13.5m in venture funding in July 2019, SEC filings show.
Since then, the Covid-19 pandemic has not deterred the brand, which pivoted quickly to digital clienteling when stores were forced to close. Asked about its recovery to 2019 levels, Meller says that the brand “has way surpassed that,” seeing 40% growth in 2021. Approximately half of the brand’s revenue is made in the US, its core market, while the EU accounts for 40%. The rest of the world currently stands at 10%, with China having emerged as a particular opportunity.
“We had some early indicators primarily both from our direct e-commerce website and our small wholesale presence in China, seeing strong data points from both those channels,” Anine Bing Chief Operating Officer Olivia Gentin told FashionNetwork.com. Testing the waters through direct ecommerce in the country and via wholesale, the brand retailed through its own website in addition to on Net-A-Porter and Farfetch in China from spring 2021. The brand saw a 500% increase over the prior year, although declined to give unit sales.
Like the brand’s early launch into the US market, the label is looking to social media to provide essential support as it enters China. It plans a ‘robust’ seeding programme across popular Chinese social channels Little Red Book, Weibo and WeChat, and will rely on local KOLs and KOCs to propel it. So far, these have included 29-year-old Beijing-born Savislook, also an ambassador for Missoma, and style influencer Meng Mao.
Ultimately, the plans are to extend beyond digital and build its physical presence: “We’re looking at partnership and pop-up opportunities, and we definitely have in our three-year plan the intention to open retail,” says Gentin, as Meller adds: “We’re using a very similar playbook to what we’ve seen in the US, Europe and Australia, and we know the combination of these sales channels works really well with obviously a strong social presence as well.”
The brand also sees additional opportunities for physical retail in its existing markets.
“The path of our retail stores to recovery (after Covid) was relatively quick once things opened up. That gave us confidence that our customer values that physical experience,so we felt there were more opportunities to experience that in real life,” says Gentin. Currently, the brand has ten standalone stores, in the US, Australia, UK, France and Germany. It intends to carefully scale its retail presence in regions where it is already present and seeing room for market growth, with a focus on the US and in Europe. In the former, it’s focusing on downtown city centres and suburban areas, with plans to open in Austin, Miami and New York – adding that it doesn’t open a door unless it’s expected to be profitable in its first year.
Leading Anine Bing’s European growth is the UK, where it currently has one store in Mayfair (“one of our best-performing stores,” says Gentin) which opened in November 2018. Its second will open in Chelsea on March 18. The brand declined to give sales targets per region, but filings with Companies House showed that it reported UK turnover of £613,000 in the year to September 2020, while pre-pandemic sales stood at £721,000. Looking ahead, the brand will likely be looking to crack its first annual million in the UK market.
Clearly, that growth will require support – and to reach its goals, the brand is also investing heavily in marketing. It has grown its global following through collaborations including with model and photographer Helena Christensen and late photographer Terry O’Neill, and unveiled model Irina Shayk as its new face for 2022 this week. The collaboration will support the relaunch of Anine Bing's Classics collection and its first Resort collection, the brand explained in a release.
As for the impact of its campaigns? One of its latest, the launch of its Nico bag, a baguette-shaped shoulder bag in houndstooth wool named after Bing’s husband, sold out in 24 hours and generated a waitlist of 5000, the brand says. Meller thinks the brand will only gain ground from here. “We’re celebrating ten years and we have really found our voice in the accessible luxury space.”
“We’re on the path to building a modern-day fashion house, and we have proven that we’re here to stay.”
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