On September 9, Sydney-born fashion label Sotto Brand unveiled its SS24 collection for the first time at New York Fashion Week (see gallery). In this Q&A with Ragtrader, founder Lauren Mariani discusses the future growth strategy for the brand.
What key steps led to the runway launch at NYFW?
Sotto Brand has experienced a significant portion of its direct-to-consumer business originating from the U.S. market since its inception. When crafting our global strategy, it became apparent that launching a large-scale initiative in the United States was the natural choice.
While expanding our presence in the US market has been a strategic objective since 2021, my foremost focus has been on establishing our direct-to-consumer presence right here in Australia. With the brand's consistent growth in recent years, we are now well-positioned to embark on the exciting next phase of expansion into new markets.
New York City's reputation for effortlessly chic street style perfectly aligns with Sotto's distinctive fashion ethos. This shared aesthetic, combined with the ongoing year-on-year growth of our US direct-to-consumer operations, has propelled us toward targeting the NYFW show for the latter half of 2023.
How will this impact the brand’s growth ahead?
The primary objective of the NYFW show was to foster stronger connections with our US customer base and elevate brand awareness as we embark on our expansion journey in the US market. By deepening our ties with the American market and intensifying our brand visibility, we aim to bolster the brand's growth in the region, ultimately expanding our market reach.
In addition, the NYFW event served as a launchpad for our Spring/Summer 2024 selling season, during which our global sales team is poised to cement our presence in the market by collaborating with strategic retail partners across multiple regions, including the United States.
How has the brand scaled since its launch in 2019?
Since our inception in 2019, our primary focus has been on building Sotto brand's direct-to-consumer presence. It was essential for me to prioritise the development of our local customer base and solidify our position as a DTC band before pursuing further growth.
In our pursuit of year-on-year growth, we have effectively executed interconnected strategies throughout all aspects of our business, always keeping our customer and brand values at the forefront of our decision-making.
This cohesive strategy framework has empowered us to enhance and innovate in every season, from responding to customer feedback by increasing in-season re-cuts to expanding our range of options and categories. Each year, we have consistently strengthened our market presence compared to the previous year
Currently, Sotto Brand ships to 50 countries with the largest mix driven out of the UAE, Asia and of course, the USA.
Have categories changed since Sotto's initial launch?
Sotto Brand originally launched with a minimal, fit-focussed range of lingerie which quickly expanded into complimentary apparel followed by footwear and accessories which are set to launch later this year.
The core concept of Sotto is to experience dressing "from the base up" - starting with lingerie, up to apparel and finishing with footwear and accessories - so category expansion was essential to be able to fully represent the Sotto way of dressing.
This category expansion has meant that our best selling categories have changed quite significantly since launch. Currently, our best selling categories are our maxi skirts, blazers and our forever favourite category, bras.
The launch of apparel accelerated the brand's growth so we are excited to see how the business advances once our footwear and accessories collections go to market.
Which key regions have you identified for expansion this year and beyond?
The key regions we have identified for expansion this year and beyond are the UAE, Asia (specifically China) and the USA.
These regions are our top performing international markets, so we have been steadily trialing marketing activities in these regions over the past two years. This has resulted in us obtaining significant data and learnings ahead of our 2023 expansion strategy.
The scaling strategies for these regions revolve around fostering strong local partnerships, leveraging emerging digital marketing activations, and implementing agile, data-driven decision-making processes to ensure sustainable growth and a thriving business ecosystem in each local market as well as globally.
What is Sotto’s market share in Australia compared to overseas?
Analysing Sotto's market performance, it is evident that Australia remains our foremost market in terms of both sales revenue and sales revenue growth. However, it's worth noting that our international markets have displayed the highest growth rates when compared to similar periods.
At present, Australia constitutes approximately 65% of our business, with the international segment contributing approximately 35% and growing.
Any other business news to share?
Sotto Brand is excited to announce the debut of its first footwear and accessories collection for SS24, set to launch in December this year. This collection showcases an elevated selection of timeless yet trend-setting items crafted from premium leather and mesh materials.
These meticulously designed pieces are intended to seamlessly complement our lingerie and apparel lines, serving as the finishing touch to complete your wardrobe.