“The world is changing”: Tigerlily CEO

To celebrate the Australian designer’s 20th anniversary this year, the Tigerlily team is preparing to unleash a complete rebrand, featuring a new tone of voice, direction and product evolution. 

The transformation will involve advertising and social media campaigns, an e-commerce transformation, a collector’s edition Tigerlily newspaper in Australia, updated stores and next month, the launch of a brand new flagship store at Melbourne Emporium. All will be revealed to the general public on November 19 and rolled out across Australia and New Zealand.

“After 20 years of travelling with customers, we’re ready for our next adventure and for us, the second evolution of the brand is about a new perception of what it means to be sophisticated, fun and playful,” CEO Chris Buchanan told Inside Retail

“The world is changing, customers and tastes are changing and everyone needs to evolve. We’re not going to be the last to do a rebrand, so this is really a celebration of our 20th anniversary year. This process has been a 12-month journey, it’s very organic, we’ve considered our heritage, our values and for us, it’s about getting a cohesive message across all our touchpoints. That starts with our communication, tone of voice, product, messaging and in particular, our campaign.” 

Tigerlily’s 12-day countdown campaign, which began last week, reveals a letter a day, standing for a different brand value. For example, T for “travel” and Y for “you”. 

“You don’t go to Tigerlily to discover a piece, you go to take it away with you on a journey, a holiday, an experience. We’ve been going on holidays with customers for 20 years. Our pillars are about being adventurous, optimistic and travel. We make clothes to make memories in, to dance in, swim in and discover – clothes that make you smile,” he said. 

Beyond swimwear

While Tigerlily began as a swimwear brand spearheaded by model Jodhi Meares and has been well-loved for its printed bikinis and one-pieces ever since – 80 per cent of its sales actually come from ready-to-wear. It’s a common misconception that Buchanan and his team are focused on turning that around as part of the rebrand. 

From pre-fall 2020, Tigerlily will begin delivering two collections per season to better meet the needs of its international customers. One collection, known as ready-to-wear will feature more elevated, contemporary designs at a higher price points, Buchanan explained. The other range, called the Holiday Edit, will focus on swimwear and overswim.

“I think everyone remembers Tigerlily as a swimwear brand, but for 15 years, we’ve been a clothing brand. There’s no better way to celebrate 20 years of being one of Australia’s most iconic brands than to start a new journey and really create some clarity around who we are and what we do,” said Buchanan.

Part of the rebrand is for Tigerlily to show the world that not only is it a fun and playful brand, it also offers sophistication and an elevated product with a high level of design, Buchanan said. 

“What makes us unique is that we’re not fast fashion. Everything we do is very considered. We pride ourselves on our craftsmanship. We have an incredible team of illustrators and textile designers,” he explained. “Every print is hand-drawn, every fabrication is exclusively made, every trim is bespoke. We’re very proud of our design and it’s not very common when you look at the high streets around the world.” 

A new store experience, on- and offline

Next month, Tigerlily will unveil its new luxurious Melbourne Emporium store, which has been inspired by exotic faraway locations and glamorous hotels, reflecting the brand’s values around travel, exploration and experience. Existing Tigerlily stores will also undergo a refresh, featuring new in-store packaging with the revamped logo.

Meanwhile, the business will relaunch a mobile-friendly website next week, with new functionalities and an improved customer experience, heralding the next evolution of the business. It will also feature new sustainability icons, which will provide customers with an easier way to make informed decisions during the buying process.

“Our website is a classic example of why brands need to rebrand and evolve. Our site needed to evolve. It will now have a modern approach to web design, which has been in the works for six months and comes with additional functionality, in particular click-and-collect,” said Buchanan. “We’re very proud of the artistic direction of the new site and through the new customer experience being digital and mobile-first, you’ll really see the identity come to life.”

Tigerlily goes global

Prior to 2017, Tigerlily did not hold any international trademarks, but since that has been resolved, the company has been working on overseas expansion and has partnered with Selfridges in the UK, Shopbop in the US and Bloomingdales in Dubai. 

Meanwhile in the US, the brand is continuing to increase its presence in the US and has just secured an exclusive partnership with a yet-to-be-announced major retailer, which will launch in January next year. 

Earlier this year, Tigerlily opened its first New Zealand standalone store in Newmarket and launched an online store specifically aimed at Kiwi customers.

“We also recently partnered with a major fashion icon to launch our pre-fall collection in Europe, which has been a key area for growth over the past 12 months,” revealed Buchanan. “Combined with our brand relaunch, and more elevated product, the demand for Tigerlily in export markets has never been stronger.”

A pioneer in sustainable swimwear

As one of the first brands in the world to bring to market a commercial recycled swim offer, Tigerlily launched its first annual Consciousness Report this year, outlining its sustainability achievements so far, such as using compostable bags made from 100 per cent biodegradable materials. It has also reduced its air freight by 41 per cent, saving 14 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The report also outlined the brand’s goals for the future, such as moving towards 100 per cent sustainable sourced viscose and rayon fabrics by the end of 2020 and replacing its current garment polybags with a fully compostable option across all production by the end of next year. 

“Sustainability is a brand value and remains our primary commitment. Today, we remain one of a few global leaders in sustainable swim production,” said Buchanan. “Last year, 69 per cent of our swim was recycled, for pre-fall it is 90 per cent. This is a commitment we started six years ago in early 2014.”

According to Buchanan, brands need to constantly evolve, especially now, when customers can access great retailers from all over the world from the palm of their hands.

“I’m an optimist. People complain about retail, but I believe that if you have a great product, you will always succeed,” he said. 

“Consumers haven’t stopped shopping, they have more options than ever before and we are constantly challenging ourselves to make the best product that we can, be that in terms of our design or our commitment to sustainability – we always put product first. If you don’t have a great product, you don’t have a brand.”

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