As reported by Statista, the revenue in the Footwear segment in Southeast Asia (SEA) is expected to reach at least USD1 billion by the end of 2019. The proliferation of global and homegrown brands entering the region, coupled with increasing disposable income, have contributed to strong sales growth.
SEA homegrown brands have made waves in the region’s fashion scene with their carefully curated style and artistry. What initially started at the local bazaars and Instagram are now made accessible with Zalora and FashionValet – the regional marketplace hubs that are actively promoting homegrown brands.
In this report, we reviewed Zalora across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, to analyse Spring 2019 performance of homegrown brands and how they measured up on the global stage.
More than 5,000 data points were screened for a 4-month duration, from January to April 2019, with brands shortlisted based on high assortment count and popularity in the region. Homegrown brands in focus include Primadonna, Berrybenka Label, Zalora, Pazzion, and Nelissa Hilman. International brands selected for the comparison were Aldo, Public Desire, Rubi, Melissa and Topshop.
Brand Performance Overview
Overall, international footwear brands had 56% more assortment than homegrown brands but were heavy on discounted items (79% vs. 45% in Chart 1). Homegrown brands were able to showcase substantial brand equity, recording comparable sell-out as the international brands and at higher full price contribution (43% vs. 18%).
Despite its higher price point, Pazzion managed to achieve an above average sell-out rate (62%) without any discounting.
On the flip side, both Zalora and Berrybenka had the most discounted items. While Zalora did deliver a high sell-out, it is only with 1% newness – this showed signs of a potential market exit. Berrybenka, on the other hand, produced the least sell-out. With Shoes as its second largest category, the dismal performance calls for the urgency in reviewing the existing strategy.
Top 5 Subcategories
The top subcategories were Mules and Sandals & Flip Flops amongst new-in items from both SEA and international brands. SEA brands launched low-heels and easy-to-wear styles, with Mules contributing 28% to the total newness.
Sneakers were trending for international brands but mostly core classics such as plimsolls à la Vans and Converse over progressive chunky ‘dad’ shape as seen in other fast fashion brands.
Key Runway Styles in Review
Some of the major trends on the SS19 runways included:
Smart Animal Prints
Animal prints were not only massive on the season’s catwalks for apparels but also footwear. The snake print, in particular, reigned supreme at Off-White where it sent down strappy stilettos in all-over loud neon green. Other memorable prints included cow print, as seen with Burberry’s take on ankle-strapped open-toe heeled mules in a classic colourway.
While the animal prints showcased a more dressy appeal, the transparent shoes took on a more playful spin. Chanel showcased the ‘90s trend on simple low heel sliders with coloured trimmings and a brand logo up front. Meanwhile, Alexa Chung created buzz on its jelly sandals by replacing the traditional buckle with embellished crystals.
Square Toe Classics
Squared-toe shoes, another ‘90s style, saw Balenciaga with an update on the classic black ankle boots with a square front, finished with gold BB hardware. Fendi interpreted this trend on classic satin pumps with futuristic and edgy design in fun colours.
The next chapter deep dived into the adoption rate of these trends among the local and international brands.
Key Runway Styles’ Adoption in Southeast Asia
The homegrown brands were only starting to gain momentum on Transparent Elements and Square Toe Classics, while the international brands in Zalora SEA were seen tailing closely with the SS19 key runway styles. As seen on SP19 in Chart 3, there’s an upward movement on new-in for the key runway styles, except for Square Toe Classics.
The new-in movement depicted by the homegrown labels suggested Zalora did not extensively offer these runway styles. Out of the three trends, transparent shoes were the most promising, albeit in small quantity. The square toe trend was in high demand the last SS18, before facing a gradual decline. With that said, the trend looked to slowly gaining demand again entering summer.
Stocking up more towards the end of 2018, the number of new arrivals decked in animal prints jumped 16x more during SS19 compared to the corresponding period in the prior year. The clear trend also showed an upward trend to reach an all-time high at the end of Apr ’19. Public Desire mainly led these two trends.
Despite its least new-in count, square toe shoes overall had a higher new-in this SP19 compared to the same period last year.
Key Runway Styles Interpreted by the International Brands
Smart Animal Prints, Transparent Elements and Square Toe Classics accounted for a combined total of 52% of the international brands’ total new-in.
The international brands were more fashion-forward with a cross-application of different trends, as seen on strappy and flat sandals, slingbacks and mules. Colour choices were predominantly core, retaining the colours of the classic print – black, brown, grey and white.
The see-through trend was most represented by styles with just certain parts of the shoes, either the upper straps or the heels, in transparent materials.
Square toe trend was observed in clean and minimalist designs, mostly in heeled and flat sandals, closed-toe mules and ballet flats, and often in snake print.
Key Runway Styles Interpreted by the Homegrown Brands
The three key runway styles accounted for just 6% combined of the homegrown brands’ total new-in on Zalora.
The brands’ take on the trends was more grounded in terms of design – giving priority to comfort than style. However, they experimented on colours, offering more fashion colours such as yellow, blue, and red.
The transparent trend was commonly found across block heeled sandals and mules, with the PVC material used on the straps and trimmings of the vamp.
Meanwhile, the fashionable square toe was mostly incorporated in the classic ballet flats style, slingback flats and mules.
The new arrivals decked in animal prints, particularly leopard and snake prints were seen across ballet flats, mules and block-heeled sandals.
Key Runway Styles Interpreted by the Homegrown Brands (cont’d)
Browsing through the homegrown brands’ official Instagram accounts revealed more style varieties combining the season’s trending styles. Square Toe Classics and Transparent Elements were the most prominent trends.
The square toe front was interpreted mostly in low heel mules, strappy sandals and classic ballet flats. The transparent trend observed some progressive designs, including the barely-there sandals and PVC parts on upper as well as on buckle strap.
The options on materials aside from PVC was also extended to include woven knits, patent, metallics, polka dots and check printed fabrics. The animal print, however, was relatively limited, if not absent from some of the local brands.
Overview on Colours
The core colours this season – black, white and brown – accounted for nearly 60% of the homegrown brands’ assortment.
Pink took the 2nd spot in the sell-out metric, even though there were fewer new-in products of the colour. Drilling down the primary colour revealed that muted pink shades, mainly nude and beige, contributed the most to the sell-out that outperformed new-in contribution.
The international brands saw the additions of pink and grey to the usual core composition, which are traditionally made up of black, white and brown. The proportion of these five colours was consistent across all three metrics. Beige and nude shades, as represented by pink, also proved to be popular as with the SEA consumers, taking the 2nd spot in the sell-out metric.
The homegrown brands showcased high fashion colour contributions in new arrivals with pops of blue, orange, green and yellow, catering to the region’s festivities, namely Chinese New Year and early offering for Eid. These fashion colours, however, contributed less than 10% of the total sell-out colours.
Fashion colours for international brands mainly comprised of blue, orange and yellow, with but consistent contributions across the three metrics.
Understanding Local Demand: Despite lacking strong representations of the season’s global trending styles on Zalora, the homegrown brands garnered comparable sell-out as their international counterparts with little discounting. This proves that the homegrown brands met the demands of local consumers. It also highlights the fact that a more significant consumer segment in SEA prefers minimalist classic styles and comfort over fashion-forward styles.
Local brands such as Nelissa Hilman saw success with its iconic classic mules and sandals, occasionally reinventing the shoes with trending style elements while maintaining minimalist design aesthetics. Other notable brands are Singapore’s Anothersole, The World at Your Feet and Gena, with brand communication driving unique selling points on comfort and best fitting.
Channel Strategy: The homegrown brands understood that Zalora appeals more to the local mass market segment, hence the assortments curated for the marketplace centred around classic designs, core colours and affordability with a decent injection of trends.
Meanwhile, evident across the brands’ respective Instagram accounts, were progressive assortments showcased to strengthen brand positioning and to cater to the more discerning consumer segment.
Next Steps for Brands
Leverage on Data Analytics: While the homegrown brands mostly met the demands of the local consumers, there were apparent gaps when compared against the international brands – where if addressed tactfully, can amplify success and build competitiveness.
An international brand in Zalora on average has 1.5x more SKUs than the average homegrown brand. Having more SKUs of the styles that best meet the consumer demand can improve online visibility as well as sales performance. Similarly, the lack of nude-coloured newness by the homegrown brands proved to be a huge missed opportunity with sell-out over-performed new-in.
Innovate to Differentiate: With the growing number of local and international competitors, brands need to continually review assortment and channel strategies to maintain competitiveness and to attract as well as retain consumers.
Alternative channels have been brewing in the region and are one to watch. The Singapore-based e-tailer, Naiise, is actively promoting the local creative industry on the world stage, and Pazzion’s recent foray into F&B by opening a café as an extension to its shoe boutique, is an effort to stay ahead of its competition.