How a fashion brand grew from stamped t-shirts to unique collections
Ricardo has always had a passion to create new things. His enthusiasm for clothing brands, the marketing process and the creation of something new led him to start his own business in the fashion industry. “You Have the Power to be Unique” is the slogan of a clothing brand that establishes an innovative and unusual relationship between client and company.
Cameras click, instructions are shouted, models change poses. The creator of Mendigo Clothes knows very well the importance of photo-shoots as a marketing tool for any clothing brand. The models are the conveyers per excellence of the true essence of the designed clothes.
“Mendigo Clothes is a Portuguese brand of urban clothes. Since its launching in 2008 that the brand has two objectives: to convey a strong message and to create appealing outfits.”
As a brand aimed to the tastes of young city-dwellers, Mendigo Clothes is defined by its photo-shoot models. Their laid-back stance coupled with fierce stares at the camera convey precisely what Ricardo wants his clothing to be about: freshness and exclusiveness. Precisely because they are crucial for the marketing of the brand’s message, Ricardo emphasises that: “Models, picked among several candidates, are always chosen by the brand.”
Photo-shoots are for Mendigo Clothes, as for any other fashion brand, the true link between the creator and his public. The ideas that the designer wants to convey through clothes are reflected in the artistic catalogues. That is why photo-shoots are a lengthy and tenuous process, treated as a form of art and thought of extremely carefully.
“Normally they take around one or two months. It involves the photographer and the decision of the places where we want to take the photos (which are searched and chosen in advance). Then there’s the make-up artist, the styling artist (who is responsible to come up with the ideal look for the photo-shoot and takes care of every visual detail including the scenario). There’s the hairstyler, and of course a whole lot of staff which helps here and there.”
So far, nothing too impressive sets Mendigo Clothes apart from other clothing brands. But in truth, the similarities stop with the photo-shoots as Ricardo’s story behind this fashion brand is one of unusual innovation and constant adaptation.
“I have always worked closely with the world of brands, graphics and image. The whole process that involves creating a particular product is appealing to me"
Ricardo wanted to create something unique, outfits that young urban people could wear and feel it fitted themselves, not just their bodies but, more importantly, their sense of identity and lifestyle.
“I have always worked closely with the world of brands, graphics and image. The whole process that involves creating a particular product is appealing to me. To be able to put feelings, sensations in a piece of clothing, to undertake the process of marketing and communication was a dream which came true in 2008.”
In his quest to sell uniqueness to his clients, Ricardo started Mendigo Clothes as a strongly personalised clothing brand.
“Initially, the brand started with t-shirts stamped with different designs. There was a prototype of each model in a catalogue where people could choose the ones they liked best.”
Although it was not lacking in clients, the brand soon started to face the inherent difficulties of being a very recent start-up.
“The manufacturer which was producing the t-shirts would take too much time in attending our orders because it would constantly push them aside to attend works of other larger clients. Investment was a great obstacle so people would pay us in advance in order for us to have the initial money to pay for the t-shirt. But with the consecutive delays Mendigo was forced to issue many refunds.”
Yet, Ricardo was far from wishing to quit his passion to create new things. He decided to completely transform Mendigo Clothes from a stamping t-shirt enterprise into a full-fledged clothing brand with its own season collections. Internet publicity was crucial for the brand’s new launching.
“In Spring-Summer of 2010 we launched our first collection. The campaign was called ‘The First Step’ and it was the first boom of Mendigo on the internet. We launched it in full-strength, presenting women and men’s clothes, with a wider range to choose from and more quality. The process was different, we ordered clothes in stock and the clients would pay for their orders only when they received them, as a safeguard.”
Still the method was not the ideal one and a few setbacks convinced Ricardo that his clothing brand still had room to improve and to find its own unique business model.
“Meanwhile, the brand suffered again a serious difficulty; two out of three staff left the enterprise at the end of 2010. This situation initiated a more stagnant phase for the brand, where basically we would sell the remaining stock of the Spring-Summer collection.”
Improvement and trial-and-error characterised the early period of Mendigo Clothes. Now, Ricardo believes the brand has found its own business model which, just like the differentiated and unique clothes it wants to sell to its clients, was adapted to fit the company and its very identity.
The brand now launches mini collections of exclusive clothing pieces in reduced numbers. Each detail is carefully thought of before being imprinted in each piece. This way, clients can rest assured that what they are buying is truly unique, and collection stocks do not risk being dragged on for too long. New outfits are constantly springing up on Mendigo’s Facebook page, which imprint a renewed dynamism to the fashion brand.
“Presently, sales are conducted exclusively through Facebook. Mendigo’s Facebook page is the link that connects the brand with its clients"
Ricardo clearly explains the importance of Facebook as a channel to market and sell his clothing products:
“Presently, sales are conducted exclusively through Facebook. Mendigo’s Facebook page is the link that connects the brand with its clients. It is our strongest and most effective communication point. Marketing is always conducted through Facebook or via e-mail, giving notifications of promotions, contests, new models, among many other things.”
Now, for the first time, Ricardo wants to include outdoor billboards as marketing strategy.
“Although we have already sponsored some events and a printed catalogue was launched before, this is the first time that there is the strategic notion of external communication.”
When asked about his plans for the future of Mendigo Clothes, Ricardo tells us about his primary objective, which stems from the difficulties the brand has encountered along its way.
“The Portuguese market is very complicated for national brands. It is constantly overflown by external products and that doesn’t leave much space for small national creators. Our goal is to break this barrier, to show that we are capable of presenting quality and creativity in the national and international market.”
2012 looks promising to this young designer and his brand. His mind and agenda are stemming with new plans and big ideas. But, as every start-up expert knows, mystery is the soul of business and so his design revelations are kept as a surprise.