Auckland-based menswear label, I Love Ugly, has crossed the Tasman Sea, opening its first Australian store in the Melbourne CBD.
This is the sixth store for the stylish streetwear label, worn by the likes of Kanye West, Drake, Jay Z, and A$AP Rocky, and eager Melbournites lined for hours to be first through the door.
The men’s lifestyle brand stocks bottoms, tops, shoes, accessories, and cologne and has four stores in New Zealand, three in Auckland, and one in Wellington. In July opened its first US store in Los Angeles.
Valentin Ozich, creative director and founder of I Love Ugly, said 2015 will see at least five more sites open, with Christchurch, Sydney, San Francisco, New York, and London on the agenda.
“We’re just strategising around those areas at the moment,” he said, but told Inside Retail to expect the Sydney store by no later than April, with George St the likely location.
Wholesale makes up 20 per cent of I Love Ugly’s business, while online is the brand’s biggest driver, creating more revenue than the six flagship stores combined.
“Where we perform well via online is generally where we plonk our next stores. The reason we did LA was because we were starting to gain quite a lot of traction in California, obviously the next move was to have a physical presence there,” said Ozich.
A key focus for I Love Ugly is to make the instore experience “all encompassing” for the customer, leveraging the full potential of the senses.
The stores are decked out with black walls, rich wooden surfaces, and scented with the brand’s own cologne ‘Frank’.
The label wholesales to 66 accounts in 15 countries around the world, with a focus on choosing stockists that fit the brand’s ethos of “creating an aspirational lifestyle”.
Influence is drawn from art, photography, music, film, food, and literature.
“We tread a little bit carefully because all the work you do in head office can be completely stripped and undone just by being presented in the wrong hands, or in the wrong way,” said Ozich.