Interview: Bravo Fashion Founder Terry Smith on embracing true diversification in the new era of travel retail

The ebullient entrepreneur: Bravo Fashion Founder Terry Smith

Bravo Fashion Founder Terry Smith has always led an unconventional life. Smith grew up in Australia and began his career selling copiers, before launching Bravo Handbags in 2000. After a perhaps unlikely but ultimately fateful meeting with a Tibetan monk who coincidentally produced high-quality sunglasses, Smith pivoted once again — and Bravo Fashion was born.

“We want to show everyone that Bravo Fashion is a force to be reckoned with,” says the ebullient Smith as he outlines Bravo Fashion’s equally unconventional strategy to beating the COVID-19 blues. The company recently secured some high-profile ecommerce listings with some of the biggest social platforms in China including WeChat, Pinduoduo, Koala and TMall.

However, China is just one part of Bravo Fashion’s recovery strategy. In this candid interview, Smith previews what partners can expect at the brand’s #Virtual Stand SG-S3. He also stresses the importance of true diversification in travel retail.

Smith says, “Travel retailers always talk about diversification, but to be honest, I have seen very little, and I think the industry needs to evolve to embrace new and less-conventional products in the new era of travel retail.” 

New ideas, new innovations, new possibilities: Virtual becomes reality for Bravo Fashion at the pioneering virtual event

 

What can we expect from Bravo Fashion at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo? 

My major focus for Bravo Fashion at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo is to showcase our spirit of innovation & technology. Because even though we are a smaller company compared to others, we can highlight both innovation and technology through our stunning designs.

For the expo, we will concentrate on three main collections which are the Diamond & Pearl Collection (the designs say it all), the Bravo Logo Collection which is another first for us, and the Silver Sparkle Collection. All three ranges feature lightweight armour plated stainless steel frames, which are coated with real gold, silver and black enamel.

Bravo Fashion frames soar to new heights with inflight listings with three major airlines

Bravo Fashion has recently started selling across multiple Chinese ecommerce sites including Tmall, Koala, Pinduoduo and WeChat. How important is China to your strategy today? 

China has been a very important market to Bravo Fashion for over ten years now. We have been selling to many small retailers, but just recently signed an agreement with 43 different retailers in Northern China. We also have a pending agreement to sell to another 100 stores when the pandemic crisis improves.

As you know, we’ve also recently signed an agreement to list our products on WeChat, TMall, Koala, & Pinduoduo through Global Cart. This is a huge development for Bravo Fashion. At least four times a month for two to three hours a day, consumers will have the opportunity to see and purchase the full range of Bravo Fashion leathergoods and optical lines by video streaming.

We will start livestreaming these collections in the first week of October to engage with this core Chinese demographic. We will supplement this by putting additional listings on Koala.com and TMall.

We exported and sold more products in China in the last few years than to any other country in the world. Outside of our home market in the US, this is our current major focus and we definitely believe the trend will continue.

Embracing ecommerce in China: Bravo Fashion recently secured ecommerce listings on TMall, WeChat, Pinduoduo and Koala through an agreement with Global Cart

 

What role do these ecommerce and social platforms play in Bravo Fashion’s recovery – and the revival of the greater travel retail industry ?

Ecommerce is growing worldwide and at an exponential rate and so we are investing heavily on WeChat, Pinduoduo, Koala and TMall in China. In the US, we’re focusing on growing our presence on Facebook & Instagram. We will still concentrate on securing listings with large domestic and travel retailers in China and rest of the world, because we want to show everyone that Bravo Fashion is a force to be reckoned with.

Pre-COVID, Bravo Fashion also secured several high-profile inflight listings with Air France, Lufthansa & Austrian Airlines. How do you see the inflight channel evolving after COVID-19? 

Regarding Air France, Lufthansa & Austrian Airlines, I believe that our new inflight partnerships will give tremendous brand recognition to Bravo Fashion. I also believe that inflight sales will recover as soon as the world overcomes the COVID-19 crisis.

Bravo Fashion is a Silver Partner of the Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo (#Virtual Stand SG-S3)

 

What are your major targets by geography, channel or retailer type? 

I don’t have any specific geographic targets per se. Instead, I want to sell to as many travel retailers as possible. Especially those who have the courage and insight to sell a unique product like ours. We are very different from other brands in the category and have proven that our styles sell well.

How do you view the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the wider industry?

As expected, growth is currently being stifled by the global health crisis. However, as soon as a vaccine is widely distributed, I know that things will go back to normal and the travel industry, and of course travel retail, will experience a big boom due to pent-up demand.

How do you think the channel can and should engage with travelling consumers to drive recovery?

The travel retail industry has already taken big steps to embrace omnichannel. I think it should take more steps to fully implement in-plane delivery, pre-trip engagement, online integration and many more.

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How would you like to see industry partnerships evolve?

I understand that within the current travel retail ecosystem, retailers need to maximise returns to justify their huge rents. However, when most travel retailers just sell the same brands it also hurts them in the long run.

Travel retailers always talk about diversification, but to be honest, I have seen very little, and I think the industry needs to evolve to embrace new and less-conventional products in the new era of travel retail.  I have visited countless retailers who say they want something ‘unique and different,’ but I can tell you from personal experience that that is very hard to find.

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