InnoKOL | Stephen Laundy: In Fashion Some of The Best Brands Are a Business Before They Are a Brand

2022/10/07 Innoverview Read

On Oct.7th, InnoKOL had a fascinating conversation with Mr. Stephen Laundy, the Managing Director of talking about his unique work experience and profound insights on global market expansion strategy for brands.


Jokia: How would you describe yourself in three words? What’s your motto?


Genuine, Approachable and Persistent.

No matter how high or how low the waves keep rowing your course.


Jokia: Can you please share more about your educational and professional background? And we’d love to hear what brought you into brand strategy domain.


I was never an academic. I started buying clothing from a wholesaler at aged 9 (1972) and selling to friends at school and have been in fashion/ apparel since.


So, when I left school, I went into clothing with my own, buying selling. until 2005 then I started Fashion Compass to work with brands and use my experience.


Jokia: Why global brands should redesign their value proposition for new markets?


When I speak to fashion brands I never say "you should" I show them the opportunities and say which ones I would do "if I were in their position". Every brand is different so the opportunities out there are different for them.


Well basically every brand is different. Brands need to know when a consumer sees a new brand in store/ online for the first time they decide in 10 seconds, "is it for me" so the proposition they see must tell the story/ branding easy and quick.


Jokia: How has the pandemic impacted global expansion?


Covid has stalled things. Some countries reacted extreme, some not so extreme. Obviously, logistics highly effected and also macro and micro. If you had a shop and put the "CLOSED" sign on door for best part of 2 years, you cannot just put "OPEN" and carry on where you left off. Overall, the impacts are still to be seen and still evolving. 


Jokia: With 11000+ agents/ distributors & retail partners globally, could you share 2-3 cases impressed you most?


My favorite cases are usually where I introduce a client brand to someone in their own territory. Many think that because I am in London that I know UK best, wrong. I just happen to be in London. My 3 favorite cases:


1.     I have a large Indian brand as a client, I also have a department store in India I am helping to source new brands I introduced them to each other and now Options are selling Faballey. 

2.     I introduced to a distributor in Fiji and as we speak, they are opening store in Fiji.

3.     I introduced a brand in Panama who was a client to (a large ecommerce platform for South America). the brand

It's not easy working with brands from countries that are not "fashionable". UK brands, French and Italian easier so I like it when I get a "tough" brand into a new market.


Jokia: What lessons can be learnt from Tesla’s international expansion?


So, Tesla was the first. The best number 1 law in marketing... be the first, it’s better than being better/ best. You can’t learn that. You become the "preferred brand in your category". So, if Tesla is not in e.g., Malaysia and a Malaysian dealer wants electric cars they will call Tesla. Tesla expanded by being pulled into countries, they didn’t need to push (though I hear sometimes their car needs pushing:


Jokia: From your perspective, why big innovation needs great branding?


Big innovation can have the best branding in the world but most important is that it works. "A good brand is a relationship between the owner/s and its consumer" Peter Fisk author Marketing Genius.  In fashion some of the best brands (some, not all) are a business before they are a brand. It is easier to get branding right when you have already been buying and selling a product than branding first then selling.


Jokia: How will you predict the future of global expansion in a technology driven world?


I don’t think things have changed much, they just got further and faster and visible to more. The fashion trade is about creating a few winning styles and selling many. That was the same when I started but now you can sell more of them to more people, further away and get it there quick. But the product must still be good. So, I would predict more of the same, it just gets faster, bigger, quicker.


Mr.Stephen Laundy works with fashion, lifestyle, outdoor brands from all countries to get, agents, distributors & e/retail partners in new markets & their domestic markets if needed. Startup, medium sized wholesale, retail & ecomm. Clients from Europe, U.S., Australia, Japan, brands from all countries to enter markets in all zones, U.S. , Euro, Asia and more. 

Stephen has 11000+ agents/ distributors & retail partners globally. Clients are brands from all over the world Luxury, Premium and Commercial Brands, Retail & Designer Collections. Stephen has introduced for example: U.S. brands to Europe and Asia, Canadian Brands to Scandinavia, Asian Brands to EMEA, Australian to U.S. & N.Z., China brands to India and naturally Europe and UK entry.


Ms. Jokia Yin is the Founder of Innoverview and InnoKOL, the Vice Chairman of HK International Blockchain Finance Association as well as the Head of Media at United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce. Jokia has over 10 years of marketing and management experience, much of which has been in the Asia Pacific Region within events and PR industry. She has held key leadership roles executing market research and entry, developing sales channels and revenue generation, building marketing, finance and Operations related infrastructure for a more than 20 events related to retail, tourism, energy storage, blockchain, cosmetics domains.