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Billabong's Tigerlily brand debuts in U.S.

By Tiffany Montgomery
April 08, 2009 7:20 AM

Candy HarrisI caught up with Candy Harris, left, the Billabong Girls brand director who is also responsible for many aspects of the Tigerlily business in the U.S. Tigerlily is a women's contemporary line born in Australia that Billabong purchased in 2007. Tigerlily is debuting in stores in the U.S. this spring.

Tigerlily bathing suitWhile there is some cross over with premium surf shops, Tigerlily is mostly aimed at a boutique audience. Price points for dresses range from $100 to $250, denim sells for $110 to $170, tops from $58 to $150 and swim from $110 to $300.

Candy answered some questions for me about the brand and how the launch is going.

How is the Tigerlily launch going in the U.S.? Is it challenging trying to launch something new at retail right now?

Oddly enough, the tough economy is lending Tigerlily an unexpected opportunity in launching the brand. For every retailer that is scared to test a new brand, there is another who is actively trying to create excitement on the floor by offering something new. I think the reason we have struck an audience with buyers is that the product has a strong novelty aspect running throughout the collection. If we were just another higher end label offering great basics it would be difficult to make a name for ourselves or convince a retailer that our basic is better than our competitors.

Instead, our strength has been found in the loud prints and original silhouettes. We are fortunate in that we are under no pressure to rush the launch of the brand but rather keep the focus on growing it organically. With great product placement and PR hype brewing this spring it will provide the opportunity for consumers to discover the line on their own terms and let the product speak for itself.

Tigerlily chanel suitIs there a certain niche the brand is pursuing?

It's always hard to put your brand into words when describing how you are different. In our case we are fortunate that the product itself sends a really strong message. When looking at our spring and summer lines, I think you can tell the history the brand has within the swim category, and how the sportswear has become an extension of the same design sensibility. Where both components are concerned there is an obvious statement to be made by the fabrications and prints. It's about creating an effortless sense of style; giving women the confidence to wear sexy, feminine designs without pretense - combining cheeky graphics and loud prints with retro-like silhouettes and a dose of classic glamour.

For example, in swim it's reinventing a Chanel jacket in the form of a tweed inspired one-piece, or the bold hand drawn floral splashed across a corset cutout. ... In every way the line is brimming with an "everything goes attitude."

How many accounts is the brand in? What are some of the key accounts?

The brand is steadily growing across the country but our current focus is primarily the East and West Coast. With a determination to keep the distribution in check with the brand's core ideals, we have the good fortune of being able to take our time, keeping the line tight and our accounts profitable. A few of the accounts include Westerly, Planet Blue, Elyse Walker on the boutique side, and retailers such as HSS and Becker as crossover surf accounts.

Tigerlily dressAre the clothes designed in the U.S. or Australia?

The initial line has all been designed in Australia, and we will begin to supplement each season with styles designed specifically for the U.S.

Are there certain styles/categories retailers here are really responding to?

The swim has definitely been a strong category for us, but it has also made up 60 percent of the collection for both spring and summer. We just debuted our Fall 09 line at both Project and Coterie and were really excited to see such an enthusiastic response. The fall line is completely sportswear based, featuring lambskin leather blazers, shredded denim, silk dresses and kimono styled cardigans.

What is the growth plan for Tigerlily in the U.S? Where should the brand be in five years?

We will continue the path that we are on, focusing on quality vs. quantity and pushing the creative boundaries of the line each season. We're planning on cementing our flag in the territories we know best and then letting the word spread from there. It's a lot of fun working with a small brand with huge potential - and a luxury to be under an umbrella of family brands that know the power of strong branding and tight distribution. Hopefully in 5 years we will be toasting our humble beginnings and celebrating retailers who were inspired to take a chance and offer something new. 





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