A buzzy term in recent years, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) retail model is the common ground on which relatively young and popular American brands, such as eyewear company Warby Parker, have been built. Propelled by the growth of the Internet, DTC sees manufacturers cutting out the middlemen, and directly marketing and selling to consumers.
The model is catching on in Singapore as well, with the recent opening of two DTC e-commerce fashion companies: Faire Leather Co, a leather-goods brand started by Joseph Lor, 32, and Ryan Choy, 30; and Sacco, a menswear company founded by fashion veteran Alexander Hascher. Both businesses define themselves by quality products sold at close-to-wholesale prices. Here are these entrepreneurs’ top insights into their DTC experience to date.
01 IT’S (PROBABLY) NOT FOR NEWBIES
The traditional retail model lets different players – marketers, retailers, wholesalers – specialise. Doing it all yourself is no mean feat. Hascher started Sacco last year, leveraging on two decades of experience doing branding and product management for big brands like Hugo Boss and Dior. The 46-year-old entrepreneur sources fabric from Milan and his blazers (Sacco’s current core product) are made in Naples. The morning before our interview, Hascher – who has a six-person team – had been at Marina Barrage, overseeing the making of a promotional video. Faire Leather Co, on the other hand, is backed by Lor’s family business, local leather goods maker Tocco Toscano.
02 BRICK AND MORTAR WILL LIVE ON
“People will not follow a purely online business, unless they’ve seen or touched its products somewhere.”– Alexander Hascher, Sacco founder
Says Hascher: “People will not follow a purely online business, unless they’ve seen or touched its products somewhere.”
Holding pop-up events at retail stores such as Colony Clothing is a vital part of his e-commerce strategy, and he also plans to do trunk shows overseas in future.
03 DTC CAN ONLY GROW
As the costs of traditional retail increase, DTC will be a key way forward.
Says Lor: “The mark-up for Faire Leather is low, and we have to sell more to make the same amount. But we also cut out a lot of costs, such as the consignment fees that come with selling in department stores.” Despite the expense, both Faire Leather Co and Sacco offer free worldwide shipping and returns.
Says Hascher: “I have to spend $100 on shipping both ways when someone returns a blazer, but it’s better than spending $30,000 on monthly rent.”