Johana believes that this collection marks a new beginning for the brand as it ventures into a new territory.
“We try to imitate the feeling one has when standing peacefully in the middle of a forest with no distractions, drawing the beauty of nature itself, therefore the prints are not solid lines and are instead an expression of colours and shapes that scream Claude,” Johana told Inside Retail.
Johana is coy about the future expansion plans and business strategies of the brand, only revealing that there are ongoing discussions to expand their footprint in both the offline and online space.
“Tommy and I love to give surprises and excite everyone involved, but we don’t want to jinx it right now, all we can share is that we are working hard to enable Claude to be everyone’s go-to brand going forward,” she said.
From the very start, Claude was established to be a globally minded brand, said Johana, adding the brand’s online platform had already been racking up impressive sales figures from the Singapore marketplace.
“We were surprised that even during the pandemic, the demand from Singapore kept increasing to an extent where the Singaporean market now has the majority of our international revenue,” she said.
Revenue from their sales in the Singapore market has been a major source of encouragement for the brand. It figured heavily in their ultimate decision to open their first international store in the high traffic area of the Takashimaya Shopping Centre.
The Gen Z and Millennials factor
“Tommy and I are firm believers that customers want to have a unique experience, especially understanding that our customer base are Millennials and Gen-Z, they love things that are special and different,” she said.
For this demographic, store design is a very important factor in their purchasing journey. They have a dislike of having a very systematic approach, being too logical or monotonous.
“In this very competitive market, many brands are becoming more and more alike to one another, and it’s hard to differentiate between them. If you block out the logo with your hands, you can easily mistake a brand for something else,” she said.
As a result, Claude tries to focus on the experience and emotion a customer will have when they enter their store. Curved outlines, natural plants and flowers are big components of their store design as they believe visual aesthetics is an expression of one’s value.
“With the luxury of having social media, the new generations are more aware of what’s trending in regards to fashion and their outspokenness and [focus on] uniqueness require us to be ultra-fast [with] more options and more designs for anyone and everyone,” said Johana.
Here comes the #Claude Squad
At the store’s launch, Claude brought together a host of key opinion leaders (KOL) as well as familiar faces and icons in the fashion and lifestyle industry to ensure their launch got enough traction on the social media channels.
This community focused brand also arranged its first ever international “#Claude Squad” event at SPRMRKT, Dempsey Hill, just a day before the grand opening event.
“The idea of Claude Squad is simply providing a platform where people can share their love, creativity, and passion in fashion, now anyone can apply to be part of our Claude Squad community and express themselves through fashion,” Johana explained.
Both Johana and Budihardjo place a huge emphasis on making sure their brand resonates with the desired target audiences. For them, the Gen Z and Millennials are their biggest spenders, so the team is laser focused on their needs and wants.
The unique selling point
Claude is vertically integrated, which means it has full control of its manufacturing space.
From the intrinsic uniqueness of its designs to minimum order quantities and the standard quality of its products, the brand has the ability to make its own decisions, explained Johana.
“Since 2020, 99 per cent of our clothes were manufactured in a sustainable way that gave us the ability to provide higher than industry standards salaries to our workers, which ultimately resulted in a higher cash flow for the company,” she said.
The company also goes to great lengths to analyse their customers’ wants and needs. Their operations team provides a report on customer preferences and their purchasing patterns, which, in turn results in insights that their design teams use as inspiration for future designs.
“Connecting the two abovementioned advantages, we are able to become an ultra-fast fashion brand, without the negative impacts on sustainability (almost no wastage) and oppressive working environments,” she concluded.