Noosa-based footwear brand, Holster, has been experiencing approximately 15% growth year-on-year in the Asian market.
The brand found success and a 'cult-following' of its blinged jelly-style sandals in Asia, especially in Thailand.
Shoe Trader editor, Imogen Bailey, spoke to the director and brand founder of Holster, Ben Nothling, about the business' growth in the region.
What is the current Holster set up in Asian market? What are the plans for the region?
In Thailand we're in 25 Holster shops – just Holster branded stores – and then we're also in multi-brand stores. So it would be in the hundreds throughout Asia, through the whole Asia region.
[In terms of plans for the market, in] Singapore, we've got a new customer there and they supply department stores. They'll open Holster stores in say Tangs or Robinsons department store[s] and then they've also got their own multi-brand stores rolling out through Singapore.
There's a new big mall being opened in the Singapore Changi Airport and the distributor is opening their multi-brand store there and they've just got three brands they stock and we're one of them, so that will give us huge exposure in the Changi Airport to millions of international travellers through there.
Then [in] Indonesia, we've got a new customer there called MAP, they've got about 2,200 stores throughout Indonesia.
So they're stocking us in their footwear stores in Indonesia so that's through the main areas like Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Medan up in Sumatra, so the main cities is where they'll focus. They've got premium footwear stores, so they target areas that are more affluent.
[In] Taiwan, we have a new distributor there, so they follow that same model as Singapore.
They'll stock [us] in the department stores like Mitsukoshi and Sogo – they're famous Japanese department stores – but they are actually in Taiwan as well.
They also have their own multi-brand stores and they'll be stocking Holster throughout the whole island of Taiwan.
[But] Thailand is...a great market for our brand – it's one of our best in Asia.
What makes Thailand the best market for Holster?
We've been selling there for about seven years and we're just getting good growth in that market.
We've got – our distributor tells me – we've got like a cult following with the university students, they just love our bling Jelly sandals. Then a lot of those university students go on to work in the offices in Bangkok so then the young office professionals love their bling Jellies by Holster.
The university students in Thailand can actually wear Holster sandals as part of their uniform – they have to wear uniforms in Thailand at university. They can also wear them as part of their [office uniform too], they allow them to wear the Holster Jellies.
So when I go to Bangkok I actually see [loads of] women walking around wearing our shoes, probably more so than anywhere I've ever seen in my life.
Bangkok is such a big city and that's where we sell the bulk of our shoes in Thailand.
We're also in some really good locations in Bangkok and because our shoes are retailing very well there, the department stores will give us prime position in the malls in the department stores.
So [we] get really good exposure.
What is different about the Asian market?
Asia is a different kettle of fish because [the people there] still love to go to the shopping malls because say in Bangkok or Singapore, it's super hot 365 days of the year.
So they love to get out of the house, they love to go to the malls, they shop in airconditioned comfort they can eat there, they can go to the movies.
Also, some of those big cities [are] quite condensed as well, so it's not hard for them to get to a big mall where there's heaps of different fashion items at their fingertips.
Whereas Australia's a big country. Even where we live in Noosa, we don't have big department stores within five or 10 minutes, we have to drive 45 minutes. Or say you want to a David Jones, the nearest one is Brisbane which is two hours away.