With its in-your-face embellishment, the Spanish brand is one of fashion’s most instantly identifiable.
Highly embellished and super colourful, Desigual provokes a passionate reaction from retailers and shoppers alike. Some love it, others hate it, but it is impossible to dispute the young fashion brand’s aggressive growth.
With a massive presence at trade shows such as Bread & Butter and a UK flagship store on London’s Regent Street, the brand has been heavily investing in growth. “We’ve always been optimistic and positive,” says general director Manel Adell. “Even in the current economic environment, we tend to see the glass as half full. Serious reinvestment of profits is a must if you believe in your project and this is what we’re doing. Our revenue has increased twentyfold and we are forecasting sales of 9 million garments for 2009.”
Global turnover in 2008 was €162m (£148m) and the brand expects to show 50% growth on top for 2009. Wholesale sales make up about half of that turnover – the brand has 170 stockists in the UK and 100 in the Republic of Ireland. It also has shop-in-shops and concessions in House of Fraser, Fenwick and Dublin’s Arnotts.
As far as Lauren Ferguson, owner of the Sister’s Boutique and Fergies indies in Falkirk, Scotland, is concerned, Desigual is “a stayer”. She says: “The fact is, the wholesalers are starting to imitate it – to me that means it will be around for a long time.” Ferguson is not bothered by cheaper imitations encroaching on the Barcelona brand’s market. She says: “I’ve stocked the womenswear for four seasons now. It’s going brilliantly. It’s helped restore my faith in the future of UK independents. You can’t buy anything like it on the high street – it’s different and that’s what indies need.”
Indies’ appetites are only part of the fuel for the company’s UK expansion. Adell says: “We are focused on expanding all our channels: the indies, our department stores as well as our Desigual stores in the main shopping streets in the country. We’re currently targeting to open more shop-in-shops with House of Fraser but also negotiating new standalone openings at Covent Garden and Oxford Circus [in London].”
The snag at the moment in the UK is that while Desigual is developing into a robust womenswear business, its men’s side remains embryonic. When Drapers puts it to Adell that the men’s collection may be a bit too colourful for the average UK male, he remains unfazed. “You’re right, men mostly prefer dark clothes, but there’s always a moment where you need colour,” he says. “Our like-for-like growth in menswear is 22% in our stores, and I think that will happen in all other channels in the upcoming seasons.”
Year the brand was founded by Swiss creative director Thomas Meyer
Number of stockists globally
Number of pieces in the collection
Desigual 020 7494 3773