Celebrity fans have helped fuel this dress label’s meteoric rise from its market stall origins.
When actress Sienna Miller was pictured wearing a cartoon-print, contrast-collared Mina dress in a series of paparazzi shots back in 2007, it cemented the pocket-rocket dress brand’s rise to popularity since its inception in 2004. Fast-forward to today, and the brand is expected to turnover £2m in 2009 and has almost 1,000 accounts around the world.
Created by Korean Mina Lee, a former interior designer, five years ago with an initial investment of just £500, the short-order contemporary womenswear label started selling from a small stall in London’s Portobello Market. By 2005 Mina had hit the trade shows, including Pure London, which demonstrated its wholesale potential.
“We showed at Pure in February 2005 and took on Topshop and Asos [as accounts], and it grew phenomenally from there,” says Stacey Saunders, one of Mina’s four UK wholesale agents. “When you have those big accounts on board everyone wants a piece of you, and once celebrities started wearing it, there was even more demand.”
Not just Sienna, but Keira Knightley, Kylie Minogue and Girls Aloud have also been spotted in Mina, and it is this celebrity endorsement that has helped the label to secure 350 UK doors.
Saunders says that although Mina has a lot of accounts, it follows a rule of one account per postcode “to avoid saturation”.
Overkill is clearly a danger, as Deryane Tadd, owner of contemporary womenswear indie The Dressing Room in St Albans, explains: “We sell loads of Mina at the weekends. We could probably sell double of each of the styles we stock, but we usually stop at about 15 or 20 of each style so as not to saturate it.”
With so much competition in the short-order dress market from the likes of Lipsy and Rare, it is Mina’s quirky prints and accessible price points that have kept the orders flowing in.
Saunders explains: “Our quality sets us apart and our average wholesale dress price is just £24. We deliver within three weeks of ordering too.”
With six collections a year and between 15 and 30 pieces per collection, there is plenty of product to refresh stores, and autumn 09 saw the addition of heavy duty winter outerwear, sparkly bolero jackets and a small collection of ballerina-esque skirts.
Next year the label hopes to ink a deal to move to bigger premises, with a goal of finding a location that will increase its current 1,500 sq ft space threefold, and there is potential to open a standalone store too. “It’s definitely something we want to do,” adds Saunders.
Average wholesale price of a Mina dress
Number of Mina stockists around the world
Number of Mina collections each year