When global fashion and lifestyle brand IDEAL of SWEDEN wanted to expand its fashion offering and reach, it turned to leading fashion consultancy FashionNet/Anton Dell (FNAD) to help build its brand in Europe and North America.
The partnership started in May 2021 against the backdrop of a global pandemic. FNAD worked closely with IDEAL of SWEDEN to devise a go-to-market strategy to translate the consumer electronics accessories brand to the fashion market and to set up the brand’s wholesale business in the US, UK, Canada, and France.
“One of the goals of FNAD was to work together with IDEAL of SWEDEN to transform their CE business channel into new channels in the fashion lifestyle market,” explains Jan Brabers co-founder at FNAD. “Together we were able to grow the brand not only in North America, but France and UK as well. One of the big successes is with Printemps in Paris, which is opening a shop-in-shop of IDEAL of SWEDEN.”
To find out more about the expansion and partnership with FNAD, FashionUnited spoke to Jonathan Belson, director of sales and marketing – Americas at IDEAL of SWEDEN to delve into the brand's goals, the challenges and its long-term strategy moving forward.
What made you select FNAD as your partner?
Before FNAD became just that, it was FN, which at the time, was very similar to IDEAL OF SWEDEN’s set-up in North America – just a couple of seasoned professionals trying to carve out new business, all set against the backdrop of the pandemic. IDEAL, which is primarily known for its line of fashion-forward mobile accessories tailored to the consumer electronic and telco space, had developed a comprehensive line of fashion retail accessories destined for a completely different market. Our wholesale division knew we had retail gold but was also cognizant that we needed external guidance to outline a go-to-market strategy which was both pragmatic and sustainable. Enter Mark Boloton and Jan Brabers.
My colleague Rich had previously collaborated with Mark on Beats by Dre Headphones, so we thought FN was a good place to start. Needless to say, we did not further our search and committed to FN’s guidance. Mark and Jan had the experience and expertise in precisely the areas we needed and knew that our collective approach would be as one. This was critical to our team as IDEAL is adamant about being hands-on in all endeavours.
What were the goals of the partnership?
Prior to engaging FNAD’s services, IDEAL OF SWEDEN already maintained a robust infrastructure with global distribution and 3PL partners around the world. Our online business alone ships to 100 countries on a weekly basis, and in the social media universe, there are few brands that rival our reach or consistent growth.
Our initial success with our fashion retail assortment online commanded that we penetrate wholesale and retail. We just needed to replicate our existing business to service those accounts we hadn’t had the right product for our relationships with before. So, the objective was pretty simple: identify sales agencies in specified markets with which IDEAL could partner to make entry into fashion retail accounts.
While I cannot speak directly to FNAD’s methods, I can say, with absolute certainty, that the partners they introduced us to are the ones we are now in business with.
What countries/regions were you targeting for the international expansion?
While IDEAL currently sells products all over the world, we collectively, and rather quickly, identified Canada, France, England, and the US as our primary target markets. Even though both FNAD and IDEAL had the resources to cast a wider net, we felt these regions represented the biggest opportunities on several levels. It’s not so difficult to simply sell in a product to a distributor or retailer but IDEAL is not a commodity product-driven company – we are a lifestyle brand and now beginning to think of ourselves as a fashion house. As such, there is so much groundwork that needs to be ironed out even before approaching retailers. Now that we have built the framework for how to penetrate fashion retail, we will target additional regions on a selective basis exclusively through the services of FNAD.
How did FNAD help you achieve your goals/strategy?
FNAD is its people, and so to me, that’s Mark and Jan. When we first decided to work together, against the backdrop of a pandemic, whereby fashion retail was all but irrelevant, the groundwork that both sides invested into the relationship is now reflected in the new partnerships we have created.
While we don’t work as closely with Mark and Jan as we did in the initial phase, the business that has already become of it, and that which is born almost daily, illustrates how instrumental FNAD was in achieving our original goals. The fashion industry works on a much more structured schedule than does CE and now that we have onboarded several accounts that live within that universe, IDEAL has become a more inclusive company. We continue to release phenomenal product lines but now do so with a wider lens. This enables us to maximise seasonal sell-in periods across multiple market segments and sync our marketing efforts to coincide.
Were there any challenges with the expansion?
For starters, we kicked off this partnership in the middle of a global pandemic. Even though I now consider Mark and Jan to be friends, and not just business partners, we’ve still yet to meet in person. I don’t consider this to be a challenge per se, but no video conference platform will ever substitute what face-to-face meetings can produce. Had we been able to meet in person, I would have mandated that we hold multiple strategy meetings with FN at the beginning in which our respective companies became experts in the other. Then, a game plan was hashed out and physical visits to those targeted markets, as one team, were to follow. Now, having “done” business with our Canadian and US agencies that resulted in our work with FNAD, it is just so clear to me how crucial it is to know your business partners.
I could not be more thrilled with the results, but I do know video conferences will never do what in-person meetings do.
What is the long-term strategy for IDEAL of Sweden moving forward?
Even though IDEAL OF SWEDEN was born 10 years ago, we still very much consider ourselves to be a start-up company. In looking at our product trajectory since our inception, we see no limit as to what we can create or even the type of company we can become.
IDEAL OF SWEDEN continues to be the most original lifestyle brand that merges function and fashion out there. To us, there is no limitation to what that means, and as we truly understand this, are always willing, rather wanting, to explore all possibilities. What is certain about IDEAL’s future is our commitment to sustainability, inclusiveness, equality, and corporate responsibility. Sweden, as a country, has been at the forefront of these ideologies and so as a company though, it’s just who we are!
For more information on FNAD, visit: www.fn-ad.co
Contact: Mark Boloten – firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Anton Dell – email@example.com