You know someone is passionate about their brand when they have the name tattoed on their arm! Rachel Perera speaks to Nathan Alexander, CEO of high end leather jacket brand Boda Skins to talk about all things leather and the importance of a strong brand.
“.I design how I would like my girlfriend to look and what I find sexy.”
So Nathan when did you launch the brand?
“I launched the brand back in 2007. I wanted to offer a product that was more individual than what was available on the high street, a product that was quirky and edgy, but still high quality at a competitive price.”
So you design high end leather jackets for ladies and men. Is it hard designing for the girls being a bloke?
“No! It’s much easier designing for women; I design around what I would like my girlfriend to look like and what I would find sexually attractive.
“I would want to see her in a well fitted jacket with slim sleeves and no baggy fabric, something that looks nice.”
How long does it take to complete a jacket?
“From design to the actual finished product around 3-4 months, but to be honest we are constantly tweaking and changing things. Our signature quilted biker jacket I designed 2 years ago, but I am still changing zips and pockets and small details. I call it constantly perfecting.”
Leather jackets are obviously very seasonal which can’t be great for sales, how do you deal with this issue?
“It is hard but we have learnt to combat this problem by selling to countries which are going through winter as we have summer. We sell a lot to Australia for example using this strategy and this ensures steady sales all year round.
“We also bring out a summer range in lighter colours, which incorporates fabric panels within the jackets to let the skin breathe. Saying that, we do still sell jackets to the UK in the summer, as they are a staple garment and people just wear them with a t-shirt rather than a jumper.”
How hard has it been launching the brand in the middle of an economic downturn?
“Initially it was very hard as we started off with no marketing budget at all, but as we have grown it has become easier to raise brand awareness. It has not been easy to sell a high value, luxury item in the UK but luckily we have found it easier to sell to other countries whose economies aren’t so bad.”
“.there’s people buying jackets from countries I have never even heard of!”
What advertising method have you found most effective for raising awareness of the brand internationally?
“Giving press samples to clothing bloggers all over the world has been incremental for us, as we make sure we select bloggers with large followings with cult status.
“Social media has also been huge. It’s great to think that the company is just 3 people sat behind desks in Manchester, yet there are people buying jackets from countries I have never even heard of!
“Today we have already sold to Switzerland, Morocco, Russia and Hong Kong and last month we sold to 20 different countries all together.
“The reach of social media is amazing and it’s strange to think that some guy in Hong Kong is wearing one of our jackets all through the power of social media. Also we have grown organically. We have never bought likes or followers like other brands which we are very proud of. We always get complimented and the best thing the compliments are authentic!”
“Designed in Manchester”
Have you considered opening stores?
“We are stocked in a few boutiques, but I have not really considered a store. If I opened one in Manchester I may have a footfall of 1000 people per week, but I prefer to have 1000 people hitting the website each day from all over the world.
“I am concentrating on launching an online brand. It is much more cost effective and I think you get more back for the money you put in.”
Which celeb would you most like to see in one of your jackets?
“Definitely Rihanna, she has a very rock chick vibe which is perfect for the brand. We have actually started making one for her with lots of studding and spikes on the shoulders. We will send it once it is finished and hopefully she will wear it!”
What other good retail brands do you admire?
“Mulberry, I love the way they have branded themselves with the Mulberry tree, it’s old and it’s very English.”
“Hesketh, a English motorbike company, asked us to design jackets for new movie Rush.”
So both Mulberry and Burberry are British heritage brands. Is that what you would class Boda Skins as?
“Yes definitely. Our designs are very much steeped in English culture and history. We looked at biker jackets over the last 100 years and took the best bits from all of them to incorporate in our designs. Every jacket has a British flag tag, all of our samples are made in the UK, and our strapline is ‘Designed in Manchester’. We have just been approached by Hesketh, a English motorbike company who have asked us to design jackets for new movie Rush, which is great as we get to work with another British heritage brand, so although we sell a lot internationally our roots are still here and we don’t forget that.”
So why do you think the brand has been so successful?
“The fact that our jackets are timeless, classic pieces that will never go out of fashion, “leather to love forever” as we like to say.
“Also, it is clear to see how high quality our jackets are but it’s the little touches that count. We know our customers and we can still offer a bespoke service to clients in Australia through using the power of the Internet to get their measurements. Every jacket comes with a handwritten note and gift bag and it’s these little things that make the difference. They make people come back to us or recommend us to others.”
So if you had just £5 in your pocket what would you do with it?
“Ha, I would put it on black or red and hope for the best!”
Make sure you check out their collection at www.bodaskins.com
Beware, buying Boda is highly addictive!