Mad about Mooks
Mooks is owned by ASX-listed company Globe International and founded by a couple of keen professional skaters. But following a few years of decreasing market share, Tracey McEldowney finds out why the wheels are again rolling at the funky streetwear label.
Leo Moscicki is finding it hard to contain his excitement.
As the marketing manager for popular streetwear retailer Mooks, Moscicki can sense that the brand is on the cusp of major international expansion and for that he's more than a little overjoyed.
Already boasting nine retail stores across Sydney, Melbourne, London, Cape Town, Bali and Auckland, the cheeky youth label is set to launch to open a further four across Spain, Singapore, Canada and the US in the next 12 months.
And that, says Moscicki, is just for starters.
"[The plan for the brand] long term is continued world denomination. [We want to] make Mooks a household name amongst young people around the world as it is in Australia."
The high-profile brand was initially founded in 1991 by Melbourne-based trip Peter and Stephen Hill - both professional skaters by trade - and graphic designer pal Richard Allan.
Targeting young people aged between 16 and 26 and anyone else "young at heart", it quickly established a reputation for providing good quality product without absorbent price tags. Moscicki, who refuses to divulge the company's turnover, claims this was a deliberate ploy to target those at the "premium end of the middle market".
"We don't sell the cheapest T-shirts but they are accessible for the customer that is after a good quality product."
Seemingly ahead of its time, the label grew rapidly in the early years. Having found initial success in the Australian market, it then turned its attention to overseas retailing.
"We found that our success in the Australian market made itself apparent overseas and it attracted interest from people [keen] on representing the brand in other markets. We targeted Europe and specifically the UK first with a store in London. This led to distribution through Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Japan and stores in Bali, New Zealand and recently Cape Town and Singapore."
While government trade organisation Austrade did much to assist the label in exporting its concept, Moscicki says the label went through its biggest growth period from "experience, trial and error".
"The biggest challenge was trying to ensure different markets are receiving the appropriate product depending on season and ensuring that our representatives overseas are always kept up to date and supported when it comes to developments in the brand."
Since opening its first retail outlet in Melbourne's Chapel Street in 1992 - then Australia's premium boutique shopping strip - the label has found that as its market has grown and expanded, its ideas about where to site the stores have also been forced to adapt.
Where once Mooks would have stuck to retail strips, it now needs to look at high traffic positions, such as shopping centres, that are accessible to a broader market to accommodate the broader demand for its product.
The label takes great pride in ensuring other factors - such as the use of mannequins, the store fit out and visual merchandises - are also taken into consideration when setting up in a new retail space, Moscicki says.
"Because the visual merchandising of Mooks is international, we attract like-minded customers everywhere we go so we communicate to all our customers in the same way. Whereever it is [the store] needs to fit into the surrounding cultural landscape without losing the unique Mooks flavour. We like to use both mannequins and themed window displays to promote special events or products and give customers something more interesting."
Asked what Moscicki considers the most common mistake made by Australian labels when attempting to tackle the international market, Moscicki again appears reticent.
"We can't speak for the mistakes of others. We are proud to have led Australian streetwear into the international market and helped paved the way for others. [At the end of the day] we just try to have fun with our product and not take fashion too seriously."