In the spotlight: Libertine-Libertine
In the feature ‘In the spotlight…’ we periodically interview the people behind inspiring design/fashion and lifestyle brands about how they built their success. As an inspiration for us and others in the field. This month we interviewed Rasmus Bak, co-founder of Danish fashion label Libertine-Libertine.
The brand was established in Copenhagen during the summer of 2009 by Rasmus Bak, Pernille Schwarz and Peter Munch Ovesen. In French Libertine means a person without moral restraint. Their brand philosophy: ‘Libertine-Libertine strives to stimulate the creative soul without restrictions. Inspired by city lights, wild shores & contemporary culture’. We talked to co-founder Rasmus about the brand and its success.
Can you describe the philosophy behind the brand and how Libertine-Libertine distinguishes itself from the competitors in the market at this moment in time?
As a company we have an existentialistic approach to our work and the journey that comes with it. Quality of life is key to us and is a strong focus point in our design and product philosophy as well. We produce everything in Europe and have scouted the best manufacturers and fabric suppliers over the years which has given us an unique product that can compete with the best brands in the market.
The brand has come a long way since the year you started (2009): what would you describe as ultimate success for the brand? Which factors contributed to the success up until now?
We just turned 5 last summer and we started out in the vortex of the recession, a time where there was no trust from banks, stores and producers and absolutely no will to create anything new, I actually think it’s a miracle we are still alive and we have a solid company. I am proud that we were able to grow the brand organically to the level we are at now. We have high ambitions and a lot in the pipeline for the coming years.
Recession is not a contribution to success – it might be the biggest obstacle to get over as a start up business but surviving one will give you a lot of experience and knowledge about what your limits are as a brand and how much you and your team are capable of. Growing organically, not spending more than we had, was our only option at the time for LL, but looking back that challenge created a healthy financial perspective which has contributed to LL being a rather solid company. However, at the end of the day I believe absolute dedication from our team and the fact that we have had a strong quality focus on our products have been essential factors in our success. It created a pretty loyal following from both retailers and consumers early on.
What are the most prominent lessons learned in the process up until now? Are there things you would have done different if you’d have to start again?
Honestly not really. As said, we have built up Libertine-Libertine organically and have been rather patient. Of course there are always some decisions that should have been different but we have learned to go with the flow. However, the most prominent lesson is an ancient one; cash flow is vital to secure a decent business – something we learned the hard way.
What’s the role of social media now and in the future growth of Libertine-Libertine?
At the moment it is not that big a part of our communication strategy but it is something we are building. It has gotten out of control even for a lot of great admirable brands. I want us to find a specific voice with time rather than follow the often tasteless and endless stream of updates, competitions e.d.: a voice that adds to the ambience of Libertine-Libertine.
What is your tip for all those young fashion brands on their path to success?
As I have described we were very limited in the time we launched, meaning that we had only very limited funding available for production and design development. We took the long road designing only few product groups and have let the collection grow naturally into a versatile full range collection. For SS15 we have finally reached somewhat the initial ambition for Libertine-Libertine and we feel very confident with the aesthetics and overall direction of the brand.
My tip: be realistic when estimating your financial needs – if your aim at quick growth and an expensive set-up, make sure the funding is there or available when needed. Lack of cash can put you out of business over night. There are a lot of hidden costs on your way up.