When global fashion and lifestyle brand IDEAL of SWEDEN wanted to expand their fashion offering and reach, they turned to leading fashion consultancy FashionNet/Anton Dell (FNAD) to help build their brand across Europe and North America.
The partnership began in May 2021 against the backdrop of a global pandemic. FNAD worked closely with IDEAL of SWEDEN to develop a go-to-market strategy that would allow the electronic accessories-making label to enter the fashion market and expand the brand’s wholesale operations in the US, UK , Canada and France is to be set up.
“One of FNAD’s goals was to work with IDEAL of SWEDEN to transfer their CE business channel to new channels in the fashion lifestyle market,” explains Jan Brabers, co-founder of FNAD. “Together we were able to bring the To grow the brand not only in North America, but also in France and the UK. One of the biggest successes is the collaboration with Printemps in Paris, which opens a shop-in-shop space of IDEAL of SWEDEN.”
To find out more about the expansion and partnership with FNAD, FashionUnited spoke to Jonathan Belson, Director of Sales and Marketing – Americas at IDEAL of SWEDEN, to gain insight into the label’s goals, challenges and long-term strategy for the future .
Why did you choose FNAD as your partner?
Before FNAD became FNAD, FN was a company very similar to how IDEAL OF SWEDEN was set up in North America – a few experienced professionals trying to break into new business, and all against the backdrop of the pandemic. IDEAL, best known for its fashion accessories for small electronic devices such as smartphones, tailored to the consumer electronics and telecommunications industries, had developed a comprehensive range of retail fashion accessories, destined for a completely different market. Our wholesale department knew we were a retail gem – but also knew we needed outside advice to design a pragmatic and sustainable go-to-market strategy. This is where Mark Boloten and Jan Brabers came into play.
My colleague Rich had previously worked with Mark on the Beats by Dre headphones, so we thought FN would be a good place to start. Needless to say, our search did not go any further and we entrusted ourselves to the guidance of FN. Mark and Jan had the experience and expertise in exactly the areas we needed and we knew we would pull together. This was of crucial importance for our team, because IDEAL attaches great importance to being active in all ventures.
What were the goals of the partnership?
Before we engaged FNAD’s services, IDEAL OF SWEDEN already had a solid infrastructure with global distribution and 3PL partners around the world. Our online business alone ships to 100 countries weekly and in the social media world there are few brands that can match our reach or steady growth.
Our initial success with our online range has shown us that we can break into wholesale and retail. We just had to apply our existing business to serve the customers we didn’t have the right product for before. So the goal was quite simple: find distributors in specific markets that IDEAL could work with to break into fashion retail. While I can’t speak directly about FNAD’s methods, I can say with absolute certainty that the partners they introduced us to are the ones we are in business with now.
Which countries/regions do you have in mind for international expansion?
Although IDEAL currently sells products all over the world, together and fairly quickly we identified Canada, France, England and the USA as our main target markets. Although both FNAD and IDEAL have the resources to cast a broader net, we saw these regions as the greatest opportunity in several respects. It’s not that difficult to sell a product to a wholesaler or retailer, but IDEAL is not a company that focuses on a single product – we are a lifestyle brand and are now starting to see ourselves as a fashion house as well. As such, there is so much groundwork that needs to be done before we approach retailers. Now that we have the framework in place for how we can penetrate fashion retail, we will be targeting additional regions exclusively through the services of FNAD.
How did FNAD help you achieve your goals/strategy?
FNAD consists of its employees, and to me that is Mark and Jan. We decided to work together during the pandemic – a time when fashion retail was pretty much irrelevant. The preparatory work that both sides invested in the merger is now reflected in the partnerships that emerged from it.
While we don’t work as closely with Mark and Jan as we did in the early stages, the deal that has resulted shows how important FNAD was to achieving our original goals. The fashion industry operates on a much tighter schedule than the CE industry and now that we are targeting multiple fashion industry clients, IDEAL has become a more inclusive company. We continue to bring phenomenal product lines to market, but now with a broader perspective. In this way, we can optimally use the seasonal sales times in different market segments and coordinate our marketing measures accordingly.
Were there any challenges with the expansion?
First of all, we started this partnership in the middle of a global pandemic. Although I now consider Mark and Jan to be friends and not just business partners, we still haven’t met in person. I don’t see that as a challenge in itself, but no video conference will ever replace what meeting in person can do. Had we been able to meet in person, I would have initially arranged for several strategy sessions with the FN where our respective companies become experts on the other company. A plan was then devised and visits to target markets followed as a team. Now that I’ve done business with our Canadian and US agencies that grew out of our collaboration with FNAD, I realize the importance of knowing your business partners.
I couldn’t be happier with the results, but I know video conferencing can never do what face-to-face meetings can.
What is IDEAL of Sweden’s long-term strategy for the future? Although IDEAL OF SWEDEN was founded 10 years ago, we still consider ourselves a start-up company. Looking at our product development since inception, we see no limits to what we can create, or even the type of business we can become.
IDEAL OF SWEDEN continues to be the most original lifestyle brand on the market, blending function and fashion. For us there are no limits and because we really understand this, we are always ready to explore all possibilities. What secures the future of IDEAL is our commitment to sustainability, inclusion, equality and corporate responsibility. Sweden is at the forefront of these ideologies as a country and it also makes our company what we are.
For more information about FNAD, visit: www.fn-ad.co
Contact: Mark Boloten Contact: Anton Dell