How MISOOK Thrives in a Fast-Fashion World
In a business climate defined by fast fashion that targets the Millennial shopper, MISOOK is creating a differentiated voice through its commitment to dressing the woman who is confident, successful and committed to being stylish rather than trendy. Owned by Authentic Brands Group, MISOOK is the exclusive apparel partner of Texas-based Ming Wang, which innovates with unique retail partnerships that have resulted in successful sales growth in both department stores and specialty retailers.
Ming Wang has invested in innovations in manufacturing technologies, supply chain management, and retail partner support, which has set the company apart from industry competitors. The company houses its operations and quality control in Dallas while maintaining a design and marketing team in its New York City showroom.
The company has enjoyed remarkable business growth with MISOOK in the past year, with annual sales increases of 15 percent. In fact, it was recognized by SMU's Cox School of Business as part of its Dallas 100, an award recognizing growth and innovation for entrepreneurial, privately-held companies in the Dallas area. One luxury department store has enjoyed several seasons of this successful partnership, including impressive sales increases and margins in the mid-fifties, percentages which are very rare in the industry.
The company's success in this strategy has encouraged the leadership team, with strong direction from Steven Wang, director of brands for MISOOK and Ming Wang, to create an even more aggressive revenue strategy for 2017, including projections for 20 percent growth over a 12-month period.
Protecting the forgotten customer
While many young brands are chasing the fast fashion model pioneered by stores such as Zara and H&M, MISOOK is committed to maintaining the style and the quality its established customer base has come to expect.
MISOOK has done extensive demographic research on its core clientele. The MISOOK customer is an established woman with a much higher disposable income. Because of her busy lifestyle, she does not have time to chase trends and does not desire to squander on disposable fashions. However, she is fiercely loyal and not afraid to invest broadly in seasonal wardrobes from trusted brand partners.
Furthermore, MISOOK has a strong commitment to serving women of all sizes. According to a 2016 study by the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average American woman is a size 16, a figure that has gone up in each of the last several decades. This customer often feels as if traditional retail no longer works for her because she cannot find clothing designed for her body type.
"Our core customer has been forgotten by much of the fashion industry," says Wang. "We don't feel the need to chase a fickle younger shopper when our core client is loyal across not just seasons, but years. She is a confident woman who knows her style and doesn't hesitate to invest in quality pieces."
Case study interviews with MISOOK loyalists reveal a consistent pattern of traits: a seasoned, educated woman of means who lacks the time – either because of a busy corporate career or philanthropic schedule – to race from store to store. She wants a line with consistency of fit, ease of wear, and sophistication of style, and isn't afraid to invest several thousand dollars each season in additional coordinates for her wardrobe.
In addition to its investments in manufacturing improvements for MISOOK, Ming Wang innovates with unique retail partnerships, which have resulted in successful sales growth for stores that invest in the MISOOK brand.
"What we're hearing from our retailer partners is that MISOOK is a safe business bet," explains Wang. "The brand is consistent, reliable, proactive and service-oriented. And that customer-centric model helps our retail partner grow the same types of relationships and loyalty that MISOOK has enjoyed since its founding."
Under Ming Wang management, the company has instilled a real responsiveness at every level with retail partners, including providing in-depth business analysis for each retailer showcasing sales and consumer response not only at the business level, but by size category, delivery and individual store.
One luxury department store has enjoyed several seasons of this successful partnership, including impressive sales increases and margins in the mid-fifties, percentages which are very rare in the industry.
Wang credits these remarkable numbers to several factors, not the least of which is the company's commitment to its retail customers from the bottom up, starting with the sales associates in each store.
"We know our customer becomes a loyal buyer fairly easily with properly trained sales people," says Wang. "Therefore, MISOOK has committed to training the sales team at every door of its major retailers, not just the premier or 'A' doors, as has become common. We treat each door as an individual boutique, recommending a specific assortment of garments tailored to their customer base and continuing to work closely with their sales associates to customize best practices."
The company creates individualized shipping and order processing strategies for each key retail partner, which creates a symbiotic relationship where the retailer's needs also drive the design process each season.
For key partners, MISOOK has innovated with auto-replenishment programs in which MISOOK holds customer stock in their inventory and direct ships to each store according to orders and display requirements. The brand's product specialists visit each store and train associates with custom lookbooks, wardrobe incentives and offers of site visits to MISOOK headquarters in Texas.
"We know that in bridge knitwear, sales associates tell the story to our customers," Wang explains. "Good sales associates make good ambassadors and make a real difference not only for MISOOK but for our retail partners."
Supply chain improvements
When Ming Wang acquired the rights to the brand, the company brought not only an understanding of the brand's history and a competitor's insights, but new manufacturing and merchandising competencies, which created a much more profitable business model. This unparalleled control of supply chain allows MISOOK to manage both its exceptionally high quality control standards and to respond to customer needs much more rapidly even than much larger companies.
Ming Wang has exclusive access to each of its manufacturing facilities, located in both China and Korea, which allows the company to bring retailer exclusives to market quickly and to ensure ready availability of the company's staple items. The facilities utilize state-of-the-art technology with the best knitwear machines in the world, including technology by STOLL in Germany and Shima Seiki from Japan. The ownership of that supply chain allows MISOOK to create custom runs for retailers with low minimums and lead times as short as two months.
These state-of-the-art machines also allow MISOOK garments to be produced using a full fashion production technique, eliminating waste by knitting each piece individually, in contrast to the prevalent cut-and-sew technique. While more expensive, the full fashion technique eliminates problematic stretching and warping of the final product through wear and tear. It also allows for the use of engineered prints so that every piece shares the same design in scale. These exceptional measures give MISOOK its signature wearability and creates a better drape and fit, a quality that is enhanced by the acrylic yarn that the company uses to produce all of the MISOOK core garments.
The company is so committed to the production of individual pieces, one at a time, that it is planning the addition of made-to-measure custom pieces for clients.
"There is not a bridge brand on the market that can claim the manufacturing innovations of MISOOK," says Wang. "From our design team in New York to our computerized manufacturing process to the hands-on post-production quality control, every aspect of the garment creation cycle occurs at a level that is previously unheard of at this price point."
Furthermore, MISOOK maintains an extra level of quality control at its facilities in Grapevine, Texas. Upon arrival in the U.S., each piece of MISOOK is hand-pressed before being hand-packed to arrive at its final destination.
"We want every MISOOK woman to be a MISOOK shopper for life," says Wang. "We are committed to making every piece of MISOOK a garment our shopper looks forward to wearing for years to come."