Whatever happened to Supré?
DO YOU remember Supré?
Supré stores were once a ubiquitous presence in suburban Australian shopping centres.
If you were looking for a cute dress to wear to Mufti Day or wanted to piss off your mum with an age inappropriate, sexually suggestive slogan tee, you went to Supré.
With the arrival of overseas fashion giants like Zara, H&M and Topshop overshadowing local fast fashion retailers, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Supré had completely disappeared.
But while those horrendous jersey belts and the neon boob tubes are gone, there are dozens of Supré stores still standing.
"Most girls have a nostalgic Supré story, memory or fashion item," acting general manager Jodie Bongetti told news.com.au.
"But Supré does look, feel and act differently than it did 18 months ago or five years ago or 10 years ago and we are proud of our transformation," Ms Bongetti said.
"We know our target market is a 17-year-old girl and everything we do is in response to her wants and needs." Ms Bongetti said.
Supré's price point reflects the budget of its young customers. Basics cost between $10 and $25, denim is $35, more expensive items like jackets go up to $90 and accessories are from $5 to $30.
Most of the clothing is trend-based and features lots of logos, slogans and branding. For example, Supré recently collaborated with Hello Kitty on a clothing range priced between $20 and $45.
Supré's new store format is designed to be a space Gen Z women want to hang out in.
Dubbed "The Clubhouse", the stores have "hangout zones", "bestie" change rooms, smartphone charging stations and an Instagram live feed. It's all designed to be shared on social media.
"In store activations" such as personalised monogramming and hot chocolate carts are initiatives implemented to keep customers in store for as long as possible.
"Our girl spends more time in store and we have had incredibly positive feedback around the store environment," Ms Bongetti said. "We have a huge amount of love and pride for our new stores. We've designed them to be every teenagers dream."
Gen Z women are also beauty obsessed and it's a product category Supré will soon expand into.
THE BUSINESS OF SUPRÉ
In 2013, the financially flailing company was bought out by the Cotton On Group.
Supré made five consecutive annual losses prior to the buyout, according to market research group IBIS World. It had generated annual revenue of $218.7 million in 2011-12.
Almost half of its 170 stores were closed and there are now only 90 Supré shops in Australia. For comparison, there are 140 Sportsgirl stores, 92 Forever New stores and 29 Glassons stores.
"A large part of creating a productive business involved reviewing our store portfolio identifying new locations for growth and closing stores that weren't meeting business expectations," Ms Bongetti said.
Cotton On Group actually controls the largest share of the fast fashion market (20 per cent), followed by H&M (19 per cent), Zara Group (18.9 per cent) and Uniqlo (14 per cent).
The Cotton On Group, which includes Cotton On, Cotton On Body, Cotton On Kids, Factorie, T-bar, Rubi Shoes, Typo and Supré, is forecast to record annual revenue of $361 million in 2017-18.
Fast fashion is an important sector for brands targeting young people. It is growing at an annual rate of 19.5 per cent in 13-18 year olds and 6.2 per cent in 18-23 year olds, according to IBIS World.
"People aged between 15 and 34 are the primary target market for fast fashion retailers," the IBIS World report said.
"Clothing items sold by industry operators tend to cater to this market's lower income levels and desire to stay on trend. Many stores, particularly female- oriented stores like Valleygirl and Supré, target the teenage market."
GEN Z EXPECTS BRANDS TO GO THE EXTRA MILE
It's no longer enough for brands to simply put out a range of clothing and accessories in brick and mortar stores if they want a slice of Gen Z's disposable income.
Companies also have to be socially-conscious if they want to appeal to young customers and curate a strong voice on social media.
More than 340,000 people follow Supré's Instagram account. The brand's curated marketing hashtag, #SupréGirlGang, is filled with smiling, customer-generated images of young women posing in their Supré purchases.
In 2014, Cotton On launched the Supré Foundation, which funds education programs for girls around the world. Ms Bongetti says more than $2.5 million has been raised so far.
Last month, Supré launched an anti-bullying campaign in stores and in schools after doing market research that found one in five young women experience "imaged based" bullying.
Ms Bongetti says the brand is constantly looking for ways to remain relevant to its customers and that Supré isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
"We are always looking to evolve with our girl. We know she craves heightened and immersive experiences and we are maximising opportunities for customer engagement at every moment. We want to ensure we can remain relevant in her life," she said.
"Our vision is to be one of the most loved brands by girls in the world."