Online womenswear brands pepper the list of AIM’s largest and most successful companies.
Set up just a year ago by Ali Hall and Julie Lavington, who previously launched fashion magazine Look, gross sales are already approaching £1mln but this is just the start, according to the pair.
Underpinning this confidence is an unshakeable belief that they know exactly what their target female customer wants in her clothes.
Know exactly what the customer wants
“While at Look we spotted a gap in the market for women who have graduated from trend-led price led brands such as ASOS, Top Shop, but who do not want to move to something seen as old-fashioned,” the joint chief executives told Proactive.
More importantly, due to the industry’s ‘obsession with youth’ they believe this is a section of the womenswear market that is currently very poorly served.
That is even though, as the pair point out, women in this category spend more on clothes than young millennials with the market overall worth £3.7bn currently.
Their inspiration came from years of talking to women about fashion during their time at Look, though it was in the last four years when they helped design ranges for a string of well-known retail chains that the gap in the market really became clear.
“The opportunity was there and women have completely got it straightaway,” they told Proactive.
“We are a brand where a dress will be about £70, so we are not a cheap brand nor very expensive, but right in the middle.
“Our customers would rather buy three dresses for £70 and have more choice than spend £200 on one."
As befits a business borne out of the media, Sosandar is very clear about the importance of celebrity endorsement.
The website is full of pictures of stars wearing its clothes, something that has also served ASOS in particular very well in the past.
“It’s all part of the process of building something that fashionistas want to wear because it’s a cool brand.
“People want to be associated with it and that’s why celebrities are wearing our clothes.”
And there is no doubt this type of marketing works. A tweet of a Sosandar dress worn by TV presenter Holly Willoughby has received nearly 100,000 ‘likes’ so far.
Social media has been a key part of the group’s growth since it was formed in September 2016, but perhaps in a nod to their magazine roots, old forms such as printed brochures are also important.
It’s good to see what the dresses look like in a brochure, they add.
While acknowledging the success of their peer group, they also point out that things have changed over the past ten years.
For example, the recent rapid growth of shopping on mobiles meant Sosandar built a truly mobile-first website, another differentiator.
So far, investors have also liked the story. A pre-launch funding round last year raised £2mln, which has been followed by a further £5.3mln at 15.1p through an oversubscribed funding ahead of the IPO.
Through the listing, holdings of both the two founders were reduced to 5% from 12.5%, though they have options to build these back to the former positions.
A big business
“We raised the money to build a big business”, they add.
In line with that, marketing is set to rise to build brand awareness and the funds will also allow it to hold more stock to cover when ranges sell out.
House broker forecasts suggest they have a chance, with sales predicted to rise from £478,000 net this year to £40mln within five years.
Whether that can be achieved remains to be seen, though it won’t be a lack of focus that holds the group back.
“We are utterly clear about what we want to do, what the brand is and who the customers are.
“We haven’t changed strategy at all along the way
“It is women’s clothing targeted at someone a bit more professional and affluent.”
Shares started trading at 19.25p valuing Sosandar at £20.6mln.