Fashion Brand Sebastian Cruz Couture Succeeds Without Physical Stores
By Space Coast Daily // June 8, 2020
Not many luxury fashion brands have been able to achieve great success without operating physical stores, but Sebastian Cruz Couture has grown in popularity considerably despite being an online-only enterprise.
The company’s products have gained vast media exposure and been worn publicly by a range of high-profile figures. Company co-founder Cesar Cruz has spoken in-depth about how the company has grown its reputation over the years whilst seeing many other modern fashion brands come and go.
How the brand was built
The company was founded back in 2013 by Cesar and his wife Natasha. It specialises in products including jackets, shoes and accessories, but it was its distinctive pocket squares that first generated the revenue that it needed to expand into other items. The company was first launched with the creation of seven distinctive pocket squares.
These proved so successful that the team never had to ask for investment from outside and were therefore able to retain complete control over the business’ direction.
A game-changing moment was when the team worked with an engineer to create a bespoke machine capable of producing 25 pocket squares with crocheted borders every hour. Before this machine was designed and manufactured, it was only possible to make one square every forty minutes.
A fervent social media following
Sebastian Cruz Couture has almost 400,000 Instagram followers despite having no bricks-and-mortar stores. The team decided to keep the enterprise an online-only one for many reasons, including the fact that their customers tended to prefer internet shopping.
He was also concerned that running physical stores would take much of the enjoyment from running the company and that the cost attached to commercial real estate was too high.
“Instead of renting out a big location to speak to that audience, you are essentially renting what I call “digital real estate” to tell your story. If you don’t know how much you are paying for that and how much it’s costing you to convert/scale then you don’t know your business.”
Sebastian Cruz Couture franchises were in operation for a short while, but the team found most of the franchise owners were failing to put in the hours needed to make them successful. Once the contracts expired, the territories were taken back by the owners.
Expanding the catalogue
Products like jackets, scarfs, bow ties, neck ties and belts were added to the Sebastian Cruz Couture catalogue following the success of the pocket squares.
Like the squares, these are all made by hand. The ‘couture’ part of the company name is inspired by the way the products are made, with ‘Sebastian’ being the name of the couple’s future son and ‘Cruz’ being their surname.
A difficult market to “penetrate”
Cruz says the fashion sector is one of the “most difficult markets to penetrate”. He advises would-be fashion entrepreneurs to think carefully about the products they wish to sell, who their target market is and how they want to sell their products. According to Cruz, luxury fashion brands normally see much stronger brand loyalty and engagement, with many customers remaining with these companies for a lifetime.
Cesar says fashion company that offer low-cost items tend to have a short wave of success before they are eclipsed by newer competitors who quickly take their market share. Luxury fashion brands are advised to work hard creating highly distinctive garments that have their own unique identity and leave customers looking and feeling “great”.
A unified brand identity
In Cesar’s eyes, fashion brands in the luxury market must aim for a highly coherent brand identity. Another tip is to look closely at competitors’ mistakes to avoid repeating them.
It’s also incredibly important to pay close attention to what customers are saying, to answer their questions and respond to the feedback, whether they are communicating through social media or websites.
Cesar says many fashion brands have failed to achieve or sustain success after failing to communicate with their audiences properly. The company interacts with customers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn frequently.
Why re-investment is so important
Re-investment is also essential for luxury fashion companies that wish to enjoy long-term success. By reinvesting revenue back into their products, companies can expand into other items and offer more choice to their customers.
The pocket squares enabled Sebastian Cruz Couture to offer a wider range of products and meant they never needed support from outside investors.
It’s also important to build relationships with quality suppliers – Cesar was only able to source materials of the right standard after paying several visits to Italian manufacturing mills, who choose their clients with great care and only tend to work with brands that share their passion for excellence.
Presentation and emotion
Cesar has also advised fashion brands to carefully consider presentation whilst spending less time “talking about how wonderful their product is”.
They should think about the kind of perceptions they want to create and tell stories related to their customers’ emotions before they even get their hands on their products.
Cesar says all five senses must be touched and describes products as “excuse you will create to build a relationship with the people that will buy from you…it takes a very passionate/talented person to paint a picture that others will buy. It’s exactly the same way with fashion.”
When to seek investment
Cesar says fashion brands shouldn’t try to raise outside investment until they know their enterprises inside out. They should “pay attention to everything” before they attempt to raise cash. Those that fail to do this risk “giving it away” according to Cesar.
The company co-founder says the process of making sales is “psychological” and that customers are regularly “traumatized” by the way brands they have been so loyal to fail to engage with them. “If you end up giving them “the love they want” they will come to you.
The luxury market is more about the uniqueness of what they are buying but even greater the love you give them.” Find out more about Sebastian Cruz Couture by visiting www.sebastiancruzcouture.com.
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