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Hype's 11 steps to superstardom

The founders of young fashion brand Hype tell Drapers Fashion Forum about the “accidental” start to their £30m business.

Liam Green and Bav Samani set up young fashion brand Hype in 2011, initially selling a tongue-in-cheek cigarette lighter before adding clothing and accessories to the mix. Today the brand has turnover of just under £30m.

They imparted some words of wisdom at the Drapers Fashion Forum in London.

  1. We take each day as it comes. We entered a T-shirt printing competition and ours was voted the best. We won 100 free T-shirts, which sold out in two hours. A couple of weeks later we got a message from a Topman buyer asking us to go see him. He even put at the bottom, “This is not a joke”. So we went to his London office, agreed to get a collection together, and made it in Leicester in two weeks. In the first weekend it made £17,000 just at [the Topman in] Oxford Circus. We didn’t know it was going to be a clothing brand.
  2. We weren’t scared of failing because we had nothing to lose. We were in Manchester and thought we’d go to Footasylum. They wouldn’t let us in the building – all we had was a scrunched-up T-shirt in a plastic bag. We didn’t hear anything for a while, and then we got a PO [purchase order] for 120 T-shirts. They sold out over one weekend.
  3. We carved our own path. We used florals and all-over prints, which was the opposite to what was on the menswear market.
  4. We always meet our partners and factories. We went to China recently and met every person we work with face-to-face. Chinese factories never give credit, but ours will on a handshake. The relationships we have are the most important thing.
  5. Some people try too hard to create something new. The key is to innovate but tastefully, within the confines of brand.
  6. We’re going to slow down how much product goes to market, we don’t want it to be oversaturated. We didn’t have a merchandiser until about eight months ago, and we were running out of stock all the time and repeating. Now with our collaborations, we are doing limited runs and we never repeat.
  7. We like to give people a chance. A lot of people on the creative side of the business are people I [Liam] went to uni with. We rarely look at qualifications.
  8. Choose your partners carefully. We’ve just opened our fifth store in Taiwan, franchise, and they are absolutely killing it. They live and breathe the brand, events, social, the product development. It’s same in Sweden. The team is so hungry for it to work, and we get on with them like a house on fire. France was a car crash. Our team didn’t gel with their team – they didn’t understand what the brand was.
  9. It’s a lot about timing. There are so many new brands on Instagram with amazing cut-and-sew collections. You need to do something different. We were lucky to ride the wave of social media. To make it successful, look out for the next wave, whatever that may be.
  10. With social networks, respect they won’t always be there. We started on Tumblr. You have to move with the new. But while the platform is relevant, take advantage. We always put engagement over sales.
  11. Don’t just give product to influencers for the sake of it. They have to want to wear it. It needs to be genuine.

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