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Superdry is the blue new characterization admired by the hoodies brigade. Admitting its Japanese designs, its links lie afterpiece to home.

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BY Phong Luu | 10 February 2010

‘Extremely… dry…,” enunciates my friend, deciphering the oriental argument on the fluoro-orange boutique sign. “Ah, Superdry,” she reiterates, account the English adaptation beneath. “Funny name. What are the clothes like?” Muttering article about “street wear” and “trendy Japanese brand”, I apace conductor her onwards, lest she queried me further, cavernous my super-sized exhaustion of knowledge.

Consumer benightedness about this slow-burn characterization is a acquainted tactic on Superdry’s part. It is one of the fastest-growing women and menswear brands in the UK, has a able all-embracing presence, counts Kate Moss and David Beckham as fans, and will float on the banal bazaar this bounce – but you won’t apprehend it from them.

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“Superdry has crept assimilate our alarm over the accomplished brace of years,” says Tilly Macalister-Smith of Vogue. “Considering it never advertises, it’s admirable that it has managed to do so well.”

In these boxy times, back brands eulogising their articles seems doubtable (if it’s that good, why are they blame it so much?), blackout can do added to clear the affection of a product.

It’s a chancy strategy, but one that seems to accept paid off: shoppers can’t get abundant of its hoodies and tees. Over the accomplished year, absolute sales about angled to £119 million, and like-for-like sales in the bristles weeks to January 2010 were up 29 per cent. These are amazing abstracts because Superdry launched alone seven years ago as a T-shirt aggregation in Cheltenham.

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Yes, Cheltenham. With its pseudo-Japanese offerings, the accepted delusion is that Superdry hails from the acreage of the ascent sun. Coats buck its Japanese logo; “Tokyo” is formed on sweaters; its abundance assurance is the beaming orange of the Japanese flag; and banal Asian iconographies, such as the roaring tiger, recur on tops.

The advertence to the Far East isn’t absolutely arbitrary, though. James Holder, who co-founded Superdry with Julian Dunkerton – the accuracy abaft its ancestor aggregation Supergroup – ancient the characterization afterwards an candid cruise to Japan.

“I admired the attending of Japanese artery wear, with its clear prints and ablaze colours,” he says, “and knew it was the administration I capital Superdry to take.” Presumably, he additionally knew that architecture ties with Japan, the airy home of artery fashion, served with a ancillary of best Americana and prep, would accommodate the cast that elusive, sales-pulling air-conditioned factor.

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Holder claims it is “unique”, but that doesn’t absolutely authority up (how boat-rocking can jeans and T-shirts be?). Where it has the edges, though, is in absorption to detail. A awning jazzes up its acknowledged ladies’ lumberjack shirt; lapels are accidentally lined with wire for that preppy “popped-collared” look; shirts arise in the softest washes; and double-collars arise on jackets (a appearance signature that Primark was accused of artful in 2008; the two companies acclimatized out of court).

“I anticipate Superdry has broke into a zeitgeist attending – it’s Skins meets Gossip Girl,” says Victoria White, editor of Company, which appearance a lot of the brand’s clothing. “It doesn’t chase trends, but dresses adolescent bodies to bout their lifestyle.”

That it has band cachet amid image-conscious adolescence comes as no surprise, administration as it does the upmarket polos-and-jeans artful of Abercrombie & Fitch, and the publicity-free aesthetics of Jack Wills, accepted adolescence brands on whose area it has been muscling in. Price-wise, it has the advantage for boyhood budgets – a basal Oxford ladies’ shirt costs £44.99, as against to about £60 at Abercrombie and Jack Wills.

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But it has additionally managed to ability above its adolescent fan base, appealing, as Robert Johnston, accessory editor of GQ, puts it, to the “type of gents who accept never developed out of their hoodies”. And this has kept the cash-tills ringing. Mark Lemon, administrator of the Covent Garden flagship store, says that his boutique is “busiest during the cafeteria breach and after-work hours, back businessmen in their mid-twenties and thirties visit”. He reckons his barter are “roughly 60/40, with a majority of men,” a breach that reflects its backbone in menswear.

But Superdry is demography accomplish to advance its womenswear, starting with Best Thrift, which launched in 2008. “The accession of Best Thrift is a able move,” says Macalister-Smith, “as it will address to new, added fashion-conscious customers. There are pieces that advertence balustrade trends, but that absorb sportier elements, like racer backs, so as not to alienate its absolute customers.” Looking at the racks of twee jersey smocks and stripy cord vests, though, I don’t anticipate Topshop should be agitation in its boots aloof yet.

“Superdry’s success boils bottomward to three things,” says Johnston. “One, it has been actual able with its Japanese idiosyncrasies. Two, the ‘right’ celebrities accept been apparent cutting its designs. And three, it has a able sales apparatus in its concessions in House of Fraser.”

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It opened two menswear concessions in House of Fraser in autumn 2008; there are now men and women’s concessions in about all 60 UK stores. The low costs of active concessions, accompanying with astounding sales from those concessions – the abundance won’t acknowledge figures, but a agent acknowledges that it has “become one of the best important and affecting brands abounding at House of Fraser” – agency it now has the money to aggrandize its stand-alone stores.

Superdry opened 18 food in the UK and Ireland aftermost year, and affairs to accessible addition 20 this year.

The cast is additionally continuing its amplification affairs abroad, accepting spent the accomplished 18 months establishing itself in the Benelux region, France, Venezuela, Panama, Australia and the US. And again there is the baby amount of its bounce flotation, which above Vodafone business supremo, Peter Bamford, is overseeing.

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And what has the aggregation got to say about its achievements? Well, admitting its action of silence, I do accept I apprehend a barrage of contentment at Superdry’s HQ.

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