We spoke with creative director and CEO Miriam Alden to get the lowdown on the new pieces.
This week, Vancouver-based apparel brand Brunette launched its second limited edition collaboration with Juicy Couture. Brimming with ‘gram-worthy tie-dye prints in pastel hues and the Canadian brand’s signature slogans, the collection feels very of-the-moment. Naturally, we wanted to find out more about the inspiration behind the pieces and how designer Miriam Alden has taken the challenges presented by the pandemic and turned them into an opportunity for brand growth and customer engagement. Read our interview below…
Tell us a little about the inspiration behind this second collection with Juicy.
The second collection is inspired from graphics and athletic brands in the late 80s to early 90s. It marries retro elements such as tie-dye with comfy/cozy [materials] to accommodate consumer wants in our current climate. One of the things we really wanted to do with this second collection was make it fresh and new – the first drop was very much 50 per cent Brunette and 50 per cent Juicy but with a retro feel. This season we wanted it to be more of something neither brand has done before while still remaining true to the natural heritage of both brands, [that being] pink colour tones and loungewear. You can really see this come through in the Varsity Crown Crest Big Sister Crew Neck Sweatshirt.
The tie-dye technique is newer for the brand – why was now the right time to introduce this?
Tie-dye has definitely been a huge trend this summer – it’s become the unofficial stay-at-home uniform during the pandemic and I think we’ll continue seeing it in neutrals throughout fall. For us, beyond the trend, it was something fresh, new and retro that tied back to the core 90s inspiration for the collection. The tie-dye technique actually works best on cotton fabrications – the effects of tie-dye look more natural if you do it on cotton versus synthetic fabrics – and this is the first collection we’ve ever launched that was 100 per cent cotton, so it felt right.
The first collection was a big success, how is the second drop shaping up so far?
While the first drop was incredible, we’ve been blown away with the response to the second drop. We launched earlier this week and have already seen a 45 per cent increase in sales online. We are just so happy that our customers are as excited about the collaboration as we are.
The collection includes all of the key WFH staples – bike shorts, sweatshirts, joggers – if you could only choose one to wear, which would it be and why?
The Boxy Tee Dress, because it’s so hard to find a good T-shirt dress! It’s versatile for summer and carries over to fall, plus I love the way it looks.
It’s been an intense few months for brands but Brunette is experiencing huge YoY growth (ROI was up 192% in July). Tell me a little about why you think that is and how you’ve been connecting with your customers at this time?
I had a self-reflecting moment when the pandemic first hit and we went into lockdown – we had gone down in wholesale because the effects of COVID caused retail to close. I decided that there were three values I wanted to maintain – one: support retailers and our customers; two: keep my team employed; and three: be transparent in our communications to maintain relationships. From there we started to focus on direct drops to consumers, focusing on our current customers and relationships, and we launched a new online personal shopping experience that offers direct-to-consumer 1:1 Zoom appointments. The way this works is that our team organizes pre-sale appointments via Zoom and then sets up a retail experience virtually. During the trial time for this technology, we received rave feedback from consumers who loved the interactive personal experience and average sales were much higher.
What have the past few months taught you as a business owner and what are you looking forward to moving forward?
The last few months have taught me so much: the beauty in the community of the Brunette team – I’ve never felt so much love from my team to fight and stick together – [as well as] going back to basics. We live in so much excess so it’s important to be thoughtful in consumption, and take more breaks to enjoy life! I’m looking forward to fall – it’s the beginning of something new for us. From our new basics collection to our vintage launches, we have a lot of quality products we can’t wait to share.
Shop the new Brunette x Juicy Couture collection here.