Grana label reaches out with an emphasis on logistics

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 November, 2014, 5:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 November, 2014, 5:27pm

When it comes to establishing a fashion brand, Luke Grana wouldn't be an obvious choice. But the entrepreneur, who sold off several coffee bars in Sydney, is already creating a buzz with his eponymous label Grana.

After a pop-up shop in Sheung Wan in mid-November received warm reviews, the Hong Kong start-up will offer a similar experience in Australia later this year with three more pop-up stores.

The business can be summed up in one simple sentence: timeless wardrobe essentials made from the world's best fabrics, and sold at low prices.

Grana offers classic pieces for men and women with superior fabric hailing from regions famous for their materials. The first product launch was Peruvian Pima cotton T-shirts. Then came Huzhou silk tops, followed by Japanese denim jeans.

In many ways, the branding and business model echoes overseas companies such as American eyewear retailer Warby Parker and online fashion merchant Everlane. All three businesses share similarities in their vertically integrated e-commerce operations, and all managed to find a receptive audience.

The entrepreneur discovered Peruvian Pima after a trip to the country to visit his brother. "I bought some T-shirts and was totally blown away by their silky smooth softness," he says.

"I come from Australia and there's a lot of high-priced, low-quality clothing. The distribution and supply chain has several middlemen, and the quality and fabric origin story has been lost. I think that's the key for the way we operate."

This story of authentic heritage has helped Grana stand apart from competitors in its messaging and product differentiation.

"The special thing about Peruvian Pima is that it's an extra long cotton that is softer and more durable," he says.

Grana achieves its prices through e-commerce, eliminating exorbitant bricks-and-mortar costs. In addition, the business has a close relationship with logistics company DHL, giving it favourable rates.

"I asked myself, where is the best place to set up a global distribution centre. I looked at Asos and how they ship everything from England to the global market. I also looked at Singapore and the US. But Hong Kong was the best choice."

The emphasis on logistics sets Grana apart from many other labels.

By creating designs that are accessible and wearable, the demographic target market is widened. Products should fit "a 20-year-old skater who wears a white T-shirt and jeans, or a 45-year-old architect wearing a blazer and smart shoes", Grana says.

This business model has resonated with of Grana's investors. One notable backer is Bluebell Group, the large luxury distributor, which pledged US$1 million to the company in October.

"We are only shipping to eight countries, but next year we want to open that up to more than 20," Grana says. "We are a global brand, and our products speak to a global audience."