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Madame Shou Shou is a women’s wear brand out of Athens Greece. It is most likely the hottest new brand in Greece right now, having fully broken into the mainstream within its’ first two years of operations. Its’ founder and head of design, Elina Kordali, recently won young designer of the year in Greece’s Madwalk awards. Not too shabby for your fashion startup.

I first became aware of the brand during its’ humble beginnings via Facebook. Although Madame Shou Shou (hereafter MSS) was still small and it’s production was irregular it was very clear to me that this was a rising star. And rose it did. There’s a number of reasons that I am certain helped the brand rise meteorically. Meeting the founder, I can be certain that this is one, as Elina is very professional and extremely driven/focused while in the same time very knowledgeable around production and design issues. Certainly, the product had the quality required to get in stores nationwide and the early MSS team had the hassle and energy required to pursue and create a distribution network. But this is not why I’m writing this.

Being a non-fashion designer and everything not, I am no expert in women’s wear design and would be prone to serious mistakes commenting on what’s hot design wise and what’s not. However I do know my tipping point theory and I am just going to say that the 2012 SS collection and the brand’s ensuing communication simply killed it becoming the high-octane burning fuel propelling MSS into the mainstream.

dios mios

2012 SS Campaign, brand imagery. Dios mio, compadre. Dios mio.

If sexy was a tangible thing, MSS completely owned it for a few months in 2012. I am not sure if this was planned or not, but the campaign’s execution and outcome was to be craved. And by outcome I mean “massive increase in brand awareness and product demand”, no biggie. It is one of those rear occasions where everything falls perfectly in place, a real case study in consumer generated content, low budget guerilla marketing and tipping point theory. Hats off gentlewomen, and let’s take a deeper look.

Apparently the brand just used friends of theirs for their photoshoots. Friends who happened to be super hot and role-modelish, but still relatable next door kind of girls. And down with the brand, just looking happy and ages far from stood up. To my eyes ( and I assume to the eyes of many others as well ) those girls were clearly the first brand ambassadors, the early influencers, and together with the brand’s early adopters projected a new example of sexy and cool, spurring a typical memetics behavior that spread fast and wide.

todos_los_santos

Early adopters, just chillin’ or somethin’. Dios mio y todos los santos, por favor. Ay ay ay.

MSS responded extremely well to the influx of consumer generated content, and published photos like the ones above along with quirky commentary, setting the tone of voice for a lasting campaign. Fun and sexy, just like Cindy Lauper singing girls just wanna have fun.

Last but certainly not least, MSS had one clear cut star product flying the brand flag. The bow bikini. No complicated names, no complicated designs. One bikini, with a bow in the back, available in many colors. A visually very recognisable, almost iconic, piece of design that has been glorified by the women wearing it, the brand’s own 501 jeans or wayfarer/aviator sunglasses.

Following the initial sweeping success, the brand is as far as I can tell still riding their positive momentum. It is currently settling into the mainstream, and possibly preparing to launch in different markets. Being an outsider and nothing but, I can’t be certain of their strategy, vision, best selling products and internal affairs. As the brand is settling in its new skin and environment, I am getting mixed signals, some of impending greatness and some of confusion such as a condescending tone of voice in certain updates in place of their earlier quirky tone, or focusing on metrics that don’t really matter.

Seeing real possibility in them for becoming a global competitor, I would say the brand needs to stick to its working guns, show the same grit and focus on things that really matter while embracινγ their true self as they have done with great success in the past. If Madame Shou Shou manages the above, while proactively seeking change and evolution by accepting reality in the international marketplace we could be in for a great, Athens grown upset. Something that I would be personally very glad to see.