How pop-ups helped inform Kat the Label’s new flagship store in Melbourne

After building traction online and through its pop-up stores, and achieving skyrocketing growth through Covid-19, Kat the Label has opened its flagship store in Cremorne, Victoria. The lingerie and sleepwear brand is also set to expand its wholesale offering. Its online stockists currently include Revolve, Shopbop, Free People and Urban Outfitters, and it will soon launch in David Jones. Founder and designer Kate Nixon said that the business started in Byron Bay in 2015, with her hand-making lac

ng lace bralettes and posting products online. After flourishing on social media, with influencers sharing the product, the brand focused on developing its online and wholesale channels. 

Working with head of marketing and growth, Anna Metcalfe, she told Inside Retail that the goal of the new boutique store is to offer something different to the usual lingerie shopping experience.

She said that the new store’s vibe straddles the line between being very racy, as well as daggy and old-fashioned, and will enable customers to experience what is showcased online and touch and feel the products prior to purchase.

“It’s a personal shopping experience that’s high-end, but at an affordable price point, [and] we think we’ve got a good niche market going.”

She said the brand saw an instant spike of growth – up to 300 per cent in Australia, and 600 per cent in the US – following Covid-19-related lockdowns. It has subsequently seen consistent growth across all its channels.

Nixon attributed this to consumers being online more and having more time to shop, as well as the growth of the lingerie and sleepwear industry throughout this period. 

Many designs can also be worn as fashion pieces, with the brand tapping into trends that have been popularised on social media.

“Customers can feel really confident and empowered when they’re wearing it,” she said.

“There’s a wide array of people who really resonate with the product [and] design at an affordable price point.”

From pop-ups to a permanent location

According to Metcalfe, the wholesale side of the business started three or four years ago with Revolve, an online retailer in the US. The number of stockists grew, before David Jones reached out to Kat the Label, which had been on the brand’s radar.

She said that David Jones placed its first order for Valentine’s Day 2023, and will be getting its first drop into stores in January next year.

The brand had also achieved success opening pop-up stores in Melbourne and Sydney this year, with customers able to try on its products, offer feedback and meet the Kat the Label team. 

The retail opportunity came up in Cremorne, which appealed because of the local foot traffic, a core demographic of young people who live in the area, and its accessible positioning. 

“It’s a central location where people can travel here, but there’s also enough eyeballs on it to make it worthwhile from a brand awareness point of view,” Metcalfe said.

She explained that the store will feature the full product range, plus exclusives that will launch in person, before going online. She also flagged initiatives such as fresh flowers for purchases over a certain amount, and awareness and fundraising campaigns.

It will also continue its pop-up stores, with an opening planned in Los Angeles next year, and a Gold Coast pop-up on the horizon. 

Nixon added that the store is an extension of Kat the Label’s online experience, offering a cohesive experience for customers.

“A permanent store [in Melbourne] made sense because that’s where we’re born and raised, and it allows people to constantly come in,” Metcalfe said.

“But that was part of the feedback [we received] from the pop-ups, from people who had either followed us or had watched what we were doing for a long time.”

A community store

The store, which opened about a month ago, has so far exceeded Nixon and Metcalfe’s expectations. They were expecting consistent, local foot traffic throughout the week, but have experienced more destination shoppers on the weekend.

Metcalfe said that the brand is trying to localise its marketing efforts with activations and partnerships so it remains a community store. 

Nixon added that the brand is constantly striving to improve its sustainability efforts. Its packaging and shipping is biodegradable, and its online orders are carbon-offset. The brand endeavours to buy dead-stock from larger brands, which it redesigns into its own pieces.

In addition to its work with the National Breast Cancer Foundation – where it has raised about $20,000 each year, over the last two years – the brand recently donated bras and underwear to flood victims in northern New South Wales, and partnered with organisations including Support the Girls, Pinchapoo and the The Salvation Army over recent years.

Metcalfe said that the brand also plans to build on its activations and events over the next few years.

“I think retail stores in other locations will be on our horizon in the years to come,” she said.

“We’ll probably do a few more stores in Australia, before venturing overseas.”

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