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boohooMAN CEO Samir Kamani on streetwear, consumer insights and a new collaboration

WGSN’s Menswear Director Volker Ketteniss caught up with boohooMAN CEO, Samir Kamani, to talk their latest collaboration (a staggering 200-piece collection with Quavo), a streetwear-focused approach and the new menswear consumer.

 

How did the collaboration come about, and what was it about Quavo that made him right as brand ambassador?

We pay attention to who our consumers look at, who they are inspired by, what they want to dress like, and we wanted a face for a US-specific audience. Quavo is very big in the music industry and relevant to our customers, with global reach. We offer similar product to his personal style, so it makes him a great fit for us.

 

Music and hip hop has been so influential in fashion over the last few years, has been such a driver in streetwear. Is that something that you think that resonates with your brand?

We are really seeking to target the streetwear shopper. It’s the trend we want to follow, and the direction we are going. It makes sense if you’ve seen our campaigns, the product we’re pushing and the newness coming though is all very streetwear focused, particularly within the US market, and within the music industry. The new collection with Quavo features 200 pieces, and is both street and festival-focused, and very trend-led too. We’ve pushed some boundaries with it.

How has it been working with him? Has he been quite actively involved in the design process.

Yes, we met Quavo a few months back, and we took lots of samples, CADs, artwork, colours, fabrics to him. We were making CADs on the spot, and speaking to him about his tastes. He had a big impact in what we pushed. We wanted it to reflect his taste levels and image. We didn’t want to make him wear anything he didn’t like, but wanted to add our stamp on it, too. It’s a real collaboration. We believe in it and hopefully the customers will, too.

 

With this launch being in the US market and your presence in the UK, how do you work across international markets? Do you find that your target markets are quite different? 

Obviously trends and consumer traits differ across countries, but really with the age group we’re targeting (16 to 24), and with how many styles we have on the site, we’re really catering for everyone. I feel like boohooMAN has enough for smarter customers, trend-led customers, streetwear customers, casual customers, basic customers – we’re offering for everyone. But being quite streetwear-driven at the moment has had a knock-on effect in the US, it’s why we think the Quavo collaboration will land well. It’s  fashion-forward at affordable prices, so everyone can buy into it.

 

Would you say that music and hiphop is almost like a unifying factor internationally, is that something that connects lots of markets?

Yes, look to Quavo’s following split. It’s obviously US-based, but this year he’s doing Park Life and Wireless, so he’s set to grow a bigger UK presence this summer, so I think he’s expanding in international markets like us – we’re growing together.

Celebrity collaboration are quite an important thing for you. Do you want to talk about what role this plays?

Our target audience are very Instagram-oriented – there’s a new influencer every day, every minute. It’s picking and choosing what’s right, and who fits our brand. We use hundreds and thousands of influencers in different countries, and our vision going forward will affect who we believe is the right fit I think the men’s influencer space has room to grow – it’s not as saturated as the women’s arena. Also, we‘ve got to be flexible. There might be a new thing in the future, and it might not be about influencers…

 

With the market moving so fast, how do you stay on top of what everybody wants? How do you communicate with you consumer? 

We listen to our customers a lot, and particularly look to students. We work with universities, we do sample sales – you have to be on top of it, otherwise you risk seeming outdated, and appealing to the wrong audience with the wrong marketing strategy.

 

You’re the young CEO of a young brand, the same generation as your audience. How does that influence what you do?

The team is quite young, too. Right now I’m relevant, but maybe in 5 or 10 years I won’t be so relevant. But now, what I believe in and what I like is working to my advantage. We have to be the customer right now, and be on trend, and later down the line, you never know, we might have to listen to the next generation in the business, but always be willing to listen and react.

 

There is a conversation in the market about the classic streetwear consumer starting to grow up, and looks starting to get smarter. Are you seeing this in your own customer base?

Yes, sure. We obviously want all customers to stay loyal to the brand, we need to cater for them as they do get older. We still want to have the offering for them. The smarter looks have been quite a good driver for us as a brand and as product. It mixes in with our street-wear aesthetic, too. You can have a smart set that still classifies as streetwear, or create smarter pieces that you can wear it in different ways.

 

What about you as an online business? How does this affect your approach?

Being a digital pureplay works to our advantage, as footfall has gone down on the high street. More people are shopping online now. It’s easier. Deliveries are getting easier. You can buy something for tomorrow! And everything you’re viewing is shoppable. The new Instagram shop feature will make the path to purchase even easier. I think now, especially for men, it’s quicker to shop online – I think they prefer it.

 

In your campaigns and lookbooks you are quite conscious about diversity. Where is that idea of diversity playing itself out for you on an everyday basis, for example in the actual product design?

We think about it across the board. With out models, it’s a good way of showing it. We use models from all around the world. We fly them in, and we also do shoots abroad. It’s something we believe in, and we translate it across the website and our campaigns.

 

boohooMAN has grown significantly over the last there years. Are there any key moments that stand out? 

Yes, for sure. I think the first one was probably launching a stand-alone website. The second one was probably last summer, when we launched Dele [Alli] and French [Montana]. And then there are multiple things. We’re in the process of launching plus-size, and we’re working with lots of musicians. There’s lots of exciting things coming up.

 

How do you see plus-size evolving within the men’s market? 

It’s something we are going to talk about this year quite a lot. But it’s letting people know we offer it, because until we do that well, we can’t really expand. I think they’re going to like what we have coming up. For instance, we have the Quavo range in plus size. We are picking styles to add into plus-size and we’re also designing specifically for this consumer.

 

With so many boohooMAN capsules, how important is styling for you in relation to the items themselves?

Styling is key, because a lot of guys don’t know how to make full outfits. Often, customers will buy items that have been paired together, because the customer can see himself wearing a full look. So, styling is key. Also, we like to push boundaries, but then also we need to make it commercial enough for everyday wear.

There are different ways of wearing everything. You can make something smart or casual, so we just need to make sure we can show you as best as we can. And that’s why we do different capsules as well, because then you can see different trends worn in different ways.

Men are definitely becoming more fashionable. They’re open to look at a full outfit – it’s an exciting time to be in the menswear space.

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