SuperDry is the tale of a British company that masquerades as a Japanese icon.
It is ironical that for those of us who live in Japan, there are no SuperDry clothing stores.
Founded by an entrepreneur who took a liking to Asahi SuperDry, the brand leverages SuperDry’s image and is especially popular in western markets. Conceived as a fashion punk, like many bands which reach fame, it quickly became mass.
Sales are over £550m and it’s listed on the LSE.
However, the pandemic was not kind to SuperDry, revenues declined 20%. Look carefully into the numbers though and there were signs of underlying weakness beforehand. Only eCommerce kept its head above water.
Last week the company opened a large new flagship store on Oxford street. It’s right next to the New Bond Street cross rail station (which has yet to open). Store traffic in all its retail concessions remains below pre pandemic levels. The company hopes the new store will become a beacon of inspiration showcasing its range of 5 collections. There will also be an influencer showroom, shows and events; environment is high the agenda, it’s made with more than 50% sustainable product.
SuperDry’s big differentiator is its brand and critical mass. Trademark battles are part of its everyday life. Recently it’s sued ASOS, an online fashion and cosmetics business over an Osaka branded product. SuperDry claims that ‘Osaka’ is part of its IP stable.
I never thought Osaka would be that popular in Britain, and I suspect most people could not place it on the map either. SuperDry claims that its Osaka range sells over £5m a year.
What makes the battle more awkward is ASOS is a SuperDry customer.
As a city name, I wonder if the UK’s judges will rule ’Osaka’ is generic and therefore not protectable?