7 Nov 2012
Upscale baby and children’s wear brand Bonnie Baby London launched its first stand-alone store in Hong Kong this summer. Located in The Peninsula Arcade, it’s the first baby and children’s wear store to be invited into the prestigious hotel’s retail space, which is home to more than 80 luxury brands, including Chanel, Michael Kors and Prada.
Tracey Samuel, formerly head of knitwear for Sonia Rykiel in Paris, launched the British children’s label in 2005, after the birth of her first child. Her husband, Gareth Griffiths, joined the business a few years later, as a furniture designer with 20 years experience working with several leading UK furniture brands. Bonnie Baby is stocked in several high-end department stores around the world, including Harrods London, Harvey Nichols Hong Kong and Barneys New York.
How is the Hong Kong outlet doing?
So far it has been a great success. The footfall is quite varied with a lot of the wealthy hotel guests from Japan, the US and mainland China. We’re starting to build a growing fan base in Hong Kong as we increase our marketing to get the word out to Hong Kong families, to let them know where we are, and that we are the perfect destination for baby gifts and kids’ clothing up to age five.
What are the differences between the Hong Kong and UK markets?
I don’t think there are great differences between the two; all parents strive to buy the best quality clothing they can afford for their kids.
Perhaps the Hong Kong market appreciates quality and luxury a little more, customers really don’t mind paying for something a little bit different, especially from a British designer. There are discerning buyers in Hong Kong who really want great quality and well-designed kids and baby clothing.
Why did Bonnie Baby choose Hong Kong as the place for its first overseas outlet?
We felt it was the right time to open a flagship store, to showcase our products in a luxurious, well-designed environment, where the customer feels special and has a great customer experience. We have investment with good Hong Kong partners, who were keen to open a flagship store, coupled with the fact that the Asian market is less developed for baby and children’s wear brands. So we felt that Hong Kong was the obvious choice.
I also love Hong Kong and know it very well as I’ve been travelling there for business for nearly 20 years. It’s almost become a home away from home for me, so it felt completely natural to open our first store there, with partners we know and trust. I love the vibrancy of the city and the people, and am thrilled it’s the location for our first store.
How difficult was it to open in Hong Kong?
We found it relatively easy. We were really happy to be asked into The Peninsula Arcade. We are their only baby and children’s wear brand. They loved the look and feel of our store concept, so that really helped.
We have great business partners in Hong Kong who took care of most of the tricky things. But I find Hong Kong so open to new ideas, the “anything’s possible” attitude is great, and makes for a fast and efficient way of working.
Where does Bonnie Baby get its inspiration for designs?
I get asked this a lot, and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where it comes from. I blend lots of different elements and am always on the lookout for new ideas. But as a former women’s wear designer, I always keep an eye on the colours and trends happening in women’s wear and men’s wear, then I try to adapt a lot of those influences into a kid-friendly idea.
I also have two children and I take a lot of inspiration from them, especially the practical elements, like how comfortable they feel things are, and how easy the clothing is to play in.
Bonnie Baby London has quite a signature look with lots of bright colours, knitted stripes and motifs, so I find it very easy to recreate these themes each season. It’s always a lot of fun starting the collection, which I always kick off with a fun colour palette. The main problem I have is containing all the ideas.
Any plans for further expansion in Asia?
Yes, we would like to expand further into China. The Peninsula store is the perfect platform to showcase the store design, and the wonderful quality of our products. It’s already helping to attract future business partners throughout Asia, and especially mainland China.
We also have some very exciting things happening in Japan; we are currently working with a new distribution partner who is trialing Bonnie Baby London in 10 department stores. The initial response is very positive with the products selling very well. Our partners have plans to launch into a further eight department stores in the new year.