Bondi Active on its new flagship store and international expansion plans
Starting as a “basic” athleisure-wear brand under parent company Between The Flags, Bondi Active founder Briony Oayda identified the potential to integrate the coastal Australian suburb’s way of life into its product design, and brand identity. Targeting a fashion and eco-conscious demographic that live in – or want to buy into – the Bondi lifestyle, Oayda set out to create a wearable wellness brand that offers men’s and women’s activewear with an edge. She told Inside Retail
Retail that the brand would likely look and feel completely different, if not for the location.
“The beauty of Bondi is that it’s a place where [just about] everyone is active. You go down to the beach at 6am, and there’s hundreds of people doing soft sand runs, swimming, or hitting the gym,” Oayda said.
She explained that the brand’s visual design, look and themes are inspired by the area.
“For example, our previous range was called Graffiti, which was an ode to the graffiti art that you see around Bondi.
“Our next collection, launching in January, [is] aligned to the ripples of the pool. Retro is an ode to the skateboard park, and the surf and skate culture that’s present in Bondi. Our general brand aesthetic is about being loud, fun and different, which is embodied by Bondi.”
The brand – which is opening its flagship store in February after a four-month pop-up at the Birkenhead Point Outlet – achieved 250 per cent year-on-year growth in December 2022.
However, Oayda said that the brand hadn’t grown as quickly as she had hoped, in part due to production issues, and a slower-than-expected bounce back from Covid-19 restrictions.
“I didn’t anticipate all the delays and issues that occurred throughout the year. [A] lot of our stuff is manufactured in China, and they’ve had months-long shutdowns that we couldn’t foresee,” she said.
“But we have been growing. I think I had very optimistic dreams on how quickly we would grow.”
“Minimising our footprint.”
According to Oayda, the new store will be attuned to the brand aesthetics, emphasising a “loud and poppy” atmosphere.
Despite the relatively small shop-space, Oayda is particularly excited about the 100sqm upstairs area that will be used as a community hub for nutrition talks and other events for the community.
“If we want to authentically be a Bondi brand, we have to be present in that community,” she said.
She believes that there is scope to expand, as the active Bondi lifestyle resonates with a wider audience.
She added that the wearable wellness term is about creating products that support people on their wellness journey, and – with outdoor activities along the beach or the ocean being central to that – a focus on sustainability is critical.
The brand is looking to partner with companies like AirRobe and Samsara to expand its infinite recycling opportunity, and be part of a circular economy.
“At the moment, our lycra [fabrications] are made with nylon that’s recycled from fishing nets and plastic bottles, and we try to do smaller runs where possible to prevent wastage,” she said.
“We’re also progressing [with] sustainable packaging – whether it be through our swing-tags, or how our products are packaged – to minimise our footprint,” she said.
“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve that and be better.”
A moving target
Oayda hopes that the new Bondi store will positively impact the brand’s online sales, while also enabling Bondi Active to partner with other businesses, and engage with the local community.
She anticipates that the focus for the first quarter of 2023 will be on the new store, and continuing to ease production issues. The brand is also expanding its product range and launching a swimwear collection.
By the second half of the year, Bondi Active will look to expand its store footprint domestically and internationally.
“It’s a moving target,” she said.
“I think we can look at more locations in Sydney before going beyond that. Internationally, we’re thinking that the UK would be the first area [overseas].
“I feel like anytime you speak to people in the UK, they have an affinity with Australia. They’ve grown up watching Home and Away and Neighbours, and love Bondi Rescue.
“So it’s not a complete unknown for them.”
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