Croota, one of Australia’s most dynamic brands (it’s known for their fantastic hipster cut–think half way between a brief and trunk), is about to move some of its operations to the United States, in a response to increased stateside sales. Since it was founded in Sydney, Australia in July 2006 and has continually emphasized its Aussie bent, we wondered what was behind the move. We caught up with Ssang K, Croota’s creative director to ask him some questions about the move and Croota’s future operation plans.
Underwear Expert: Why do you think your underwear has taken off so much in the States?
Ssang: We believe Croota’s competitive advantage comes from our strong creativity. We bring something different to our customers seeking something with a bit more edge. American consumers appreciate that, and we’re also interested in expanding our share of the largest global market.
Underwear Expert: Is that what prompted this big move?
Ssang: Cars and cigarettes are also cheaper [in the States], too.
Underwear Expert: Where will your new headquarters be?
Ssang: “Headquarters” sounds too grandiose. What it will be is a warehouse so we can dispatch orders more quickly for US customers. It will be in California, probably in Huntington Beach. I will be there by late March and I will make a final decision on the location while getting a feel for the country.
I spent most of my life at the beachside in Australia, so I prefer a holiday location rather than a commercial area. I know people are sauntering across the street in the daytime with happy faces; this inspires my work more than seeing serious faces on a busy block all day.
At one stage I was very interested in Las Vegas because of the movie Hangover, but my team knows my past too well. I lost my car through gambling many years ago, so they were not happy with this idea.
Underwear Expert: Are you pleased with how your brand has done in Australia?
Ssang: Ironically, the orders come more from the US than from Australia, but it doesn’t really concern me as our initial goal and strategy was export-oriented. Even before Croota got exposure and started selling in the market, our priority was still to register our trademark in 31 countries, including Australia and the US.
Underwear Expert: Will you continue to market yourself as an Australian brand?
Ssang: It is important for me to keep the brand’s origin, no matter how the appearance changes in the future. I have two flags in my heart as I am a migrant, and Australia is the country that provided me this opportunity so I will always keep Croota as an Aussie baby.
Underwear Expert: What role do you think your Australian operations are going to play in your future success?
Ssang: The sunshine in Australia will continue to brighten the colours as well as our brands identity.
Underwear Expert: What role do you think your Korean operations are going to play?
Ssang: The thing about Australia is that it’s far away from everywhere. Reducing the final price and quick dispatching for our international customer was one of our major concerns. We found that South Korea has an outstanding postal infrastructure among developed countries, so the service is quicker and cheaper, which means it benefits our international customers in the end. At this stage, all international orders are being dispatched from South Korea, except for orders from Australia and New Zealand. Russia and the US will be the next two countries for localisation.
Underwear Expert: Are you going to be opening up retail stores? If so, where?
Ssang: We have a Croota store in Russia and South Korea but we are not eager to expend our retail operations in the near future as it makes the retail price higher. At this stage, we would rather allocate our budget towards productions.. but we also know that retail stores are the way to go in order to build a major brand.
If we find a solution to maintain a shop with similar expenses as the online business, then the first shop in the US will be probably be either in LA or Huntington Beach