Tigerlily wants customers to know it’s not just swimwear

It’s a hectic time for the Tigerlily team these days as they prepare for the brand’s first Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) in 17 years. Renowned for its unique textiles and prints and holiday-inspired collections designed to take customers from the beach to the bar, Tigerlily is planning to introduce new elevated pieces and swimwear at lower price points, as well as new jewellery and other accessories.

“We are now one year shy of being 20 years old – in brand terms, it is a renaissance. We feel that the time is right to return to the catwalk,” says Gareth Costello, merchandise and supply chain director at Tigerlily. “We’re excited to show how much we have grown as a brand. MBFWA is a great platform to remind Australia of who we are, but also to showcase our product to an international market that is excited to see what Australia is doing in this space.”

According to Costello, Tigerlily also wants to display the breadth of its resort collection, especially as consumers are often under the misconception that it only offers swimwear, when in fact, the vast majority of the brand’s sales come from its apparel.

Contributing to the excitement, the Australian designer brand is also just about to launch its New Zealand website and standalone store. This is to be followed by a US site later on in the year, which aims to serve the rest of the world.

Located in the upmarket Newmarket precinct currently undergoing a redevelopment, the New Zealand store will feature the brand’s new store design, which came into play around six months ago.

“Our stores used to be a real habitat, almost like lifestyle stores in that they were created to look like a bazaar – there was lots of furniture and loads of things on the walls,” explains Costello.

“Now we’ve done some decluttering – we wanted the product to be a hero. The Sydney Westfield store is a lot cleaner than what you may have seen before. Now, we embellish stores with just a beautiful living palm tree, instead of a bird cage and map of the world. It’s got a cleaner atmosphere … you’re not distracted by the rug, cushions and maps. It’s just about telling people that this is what we sell – not furniture.”

In terms of the New Zealand-specific e-commerce offering, Kiwi customers will soon be able to buy Tigerlily pieces in New Zealand dollars and have their items delivered to them from their home country, instead of spending extra money on Australian freight. In the meantime, The Iconic also sells Tigerlily pieces to New Zealand, offering those customers better delivery than the brand itself has in the past, admitted Costello.

The US opportunity

Meanwhile, Tigerlily is also continuing to build itself in the US through wholesale was picked up by some new international accounts recently after showing its fall collection. Before it launches into retail, for now, Tigerlily is focusing on gaining a nationwide presence by aligning itself and developing strong relationships with the right stores or multi-brand networks. From there, retail will be “a slow burn” for the brand.

According to Costello, in the last 10 years, Australian designers have taken on the world and gained more respect on an international level. It seems that overseas, people embrace Australian designers that reflect our easygoing, outdoors lifestyle.

“I look at Tigerlily and I don’t see a brand that screams ‘Australia!’ But it does say, ‘Australian lifestyle’. We don’t print kangaroos on our product, but we make a product that we consider optimistic, sophisticated and playful. That in itself can translate into international sales anywhere,” he says.

Local digital plans

Back on home turf, Tigerlily is focusing on becoming a successful omnichannel retailer, with plans to introduce several new services to customers, including click-and-collect, ship-from-store, endless aisles and floor-to-door. According to Costello, floor-to-door will be offered when customers enter a Tigerlily shop, but the item they want is not available in-store in their size, so it will be sent to them instead.

“I don’t think Australians have done click-and-collect that well yet, but that’s the next thing we’re working on. We want to make sure there’s no reason for a customer to not get a product tomorrow,” he says.

“If there’s not a particular item in our Bondi store for our customer, we’ll get it to her somehow. That’s an expectation created internationally and we’re not that good at it because we’re such a big country. Getting something from Sydney to someone to Perth is hard, but doing floor-to-door or ship-from-store will make things easier for us.”

Sustainability: a journey, not a destination

Another major project that Tigerlily has recently undertaken was the launch of its first annual “Consciousness Report”. The brand was actually the first to use recycled fabrics for its swimwear in 2015 – Econyl is a regenerated nylon yarn made from post-consumer waste.

“For us, [sustainability is] not a destination, but a continuous journey of exploring and addressing the ethical, environmental and social impact of our actions,” said CEO Chris Buchanan in the report. “We’re the first to acknowledge that we are not perfect. There is always more to be achieved, but we are determined to be transparent and keep raising the bar.”

Tigerlily’s “Consciousness Report” outlines the brand’s sustainability achievements to date, which included switching online packaging to compostable bags made from 100 per cent biodegradable materials. Tigerlily has also reduced its air freight by 41 per cent, saving 14 tonnes of carbon emissions.

All of the brand’s tier-one suppliers are signatories of their ethical code of conduct, 93 per cent of its tier-two suppliers are also signatories. Tigerlily’s code of conduct includes 11 mandatory requirements to trade, including: no child labour, no forced labour, no harassment, wages and benefits, hours of work, health and safety, non-discrimination, freedom of association, collective bargaining, environment and communication.

Some of the brand’s goals for the future include moving towards 100 per cent  sustainable sourced viscose and rayon fabrics by the end of 2020; replacing its current garment polybags with a fully compostable option across all production by the end of 2020, and further developing partnerships with social enterprises and not-for-profits in India to support female fashion artisans.

“Taking sustainability seriously is nothing new for us,” said Buchanan in a statement. “We’ve been doing this work quietly for years. Now it’s time to talk more about it.

“Our customers care about how we make our collections, and how we are innovating. What’s technically possible, particularly around materials and packaging, is evolving fast. They want to learn with us.”


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