For traditional apparel companies with large volumes, the past two years have been eventful enough to describe: the emerging D2C model allows consumers to choose more freely online, while the increasingly mature e-commerce giants further suppress offline store customer acquisition, and the sudden epidemic has exacerbated the situation. How to break the game under multiple attacks?
In the story of menswear brand Viktor, we may get some enlightenment from its change from the inside out.
The opening of a store dedicated to young people, sponsorship of the Chinese biathlon national team, the launch of the red label blue label series for different consumers, the use of intelligent technology to achieve “one person, one version” body measurement …… whether product development or brand marketing, this traditional clothing company is The company is expanding its voice through a series of changes. The founder of VICUTU, Cai Changxian, hopes to build up a cultural confidence in clothing, in his words: to create a “new type of elephant” for Chinese men.
Cai Changxian, founder of VICUTU brand and chairman of Beijing Gray Fashion Technology Co.
Thirty years of doing only one thing
Suits have always been the ceiling of craftsmanship in menswear: it takes about 150 steps to make a jacket, but for the most common suit, it takes more than 300 steps, and for the most elaborate one, it takes about 500 steps. But as an imported product from the West, suits don’t seem to be tailored for Asians.
But a Wenzhou man named Cai Changxian discovered this problem back in the 1980s. At that time, he decided that he wanted to do only one thing for the rest of his life: to make a suit that would suit the Asian body type, a suit that would be Chinese.
Cai Changxian is not unlike the Wenzhou businessman one might think of: smart and capable, yet gentle and elegant. Perhaps slightly different is the fact that even in the heat of Beijing’s summer, he still dresses with the utmost respect – his shirts are buttoned to the top and the fabric of his pants is flat and wrinkle-free. Cai Changxian wears his own product, a special fabric that solves the pain point of suits that require frequent ironing, and this is the part Cai Changxian is most proud of – “Whether it’s the pattern, the fit or the material, I understand what the vast majority of customers have in mind.”
For the Chinese, whether the cut fits well and whether the finished garment is well cared for are two basic questions. So, unlike most domestic garment companies that choose to use OEMs, Cai Changxian built his own factory.
From Sanluju in Beijing to Daxing, and now to a comprehensive factory in Hengshui, Hebei, which integrates design, fabric processing and garment manufacturing, the production line is increasingly meeting Cai Changxian’s demanding requirements for suits. “Raw materials, design, technology, production, every link needs to be respected in order to make a good suit. Only by integrating the upstream and downstream – design understands fabric selection, while technology realizes the design, while also being suitable for industrial production and turning it into productivity – can a complete closed loop be formed.”
In this era of Internet marketing where concepts are prevalent and traffic is king, Cai Changxian’s business model gives us some kind of inspiration. He believes that assets are not light or heavy, and only by laying a solid foundation can we produce a quality product. And the ability to generate value with limited resources is the way to solve all business problems.
Over the past 30 years, the aesthetics of Chinese men have undergone a dramatic change. in the 80s, people dressed loose and fat to avoid personal symbolism; in the 90s, people began to imitate the West and slimmer European formal wear came into view; and in the 2000s, the casual and simple style from Silicon Valley was all the rage. This also allowed Chang-Hsien Tsai and Viktor to go smoothly until 2010. Cai Changxian believes that the aesthetics at that time were very inclusive, so “each market segment had a large profit margin.
However, since around 2015, with the improvement of quality of life, blindly following the imitation gradually shifted to a more personalized choice. This makes Cai Changxian some confusion, the rise of new consumer forces like a surging wave repeatedly impact those he once familiar with consumers, once proud of the pain points of insight is becoming a gulf. Cai Changxian feels that he needs to see what the young people want nowadays.
Change has arrived
Cai Changxian was inspired by the concept of “cultural confidence”, which has been in the press frequently in recent years. He believes that it is especially important to create a new image of Chinese men with a confident temperament. Facing the new era of consumers, Cai Changxian said, “The combination of fashion trends with Chinese consumer philosophy and the integration of distinctive culture ultimately determines whether Viktor can become a brand with strong vitality.” A change started quietly within Wicresoft. Cai Changxian, who once thought that “making good clothes is all there is to a brand”, is taking a brand new path – he needs to cater to the needs of more consumer layers.
Efficient, convenient and personalized are some of the main characteristics of young people’s consumption, so Cai Changxian started with the brand, dividing all the group’s brands into three branches and providing a set of solutions for the corresponding groups of people. “For high-end customers with customized needs, Groenia can fully meet their discerning needs for fabric and comfort; for white-collar workers with business needs, the version of the more advantageous Viktor brand is further subdivided into two series of blue label, red label, the former traditional formal, the latter is more youthful and fashionable, dynamic; for the younger age group of customers, there is a light and simple with attitude For younger customers, there is also the light and simple Micro High brand with attitude to choose from.”
In May 2020, the first Red Label stand-alone store was opened in Beijing’s Qiaofu Fangcaodi district, where pioneering art and trendy culture are combined. Each consumer who comes to experience the store is offered a complete head-to-toe outfit solution, a one-stop shop for diverse needs. In Cai Changxian’s eyes, every shopper is a product expert of Viktor: “Not only can they sell clothes, but they are also clothes matchmakers, who can recommend products according to your occupation and looks, so that they can build long-term trust with customers.” The opening of the Red Label store is one of the important initiatives of the brand based on the change of consumer philosophy.