Colorful floral prints in contrasting pink and orange hues and multicolored leopard print spots in shades of green, blue and purple, are just some of the bright and bold designs that are synonymous with premium womenswear label Stine Goya.
Based in Copenhagen, Goya launched her label in 2006, with husband Thomas Hertz joining as CEO in 2012. The duo are set on dominating London this year, after having to scale down the business by 20% in 2020 to mitigate the impact of the pandemic . Goya and Hertz say this allowed the brand to continue to operate and emerge from the stronger pandemic.
On 1 April, the brand will open its first permanent showroom outside of Copenhagen, at central London’s 180 Strand – the former home of the British Fashion Council’s London Fashion Week hub. Goya and Hertz tell Drapers they will also open their first UK retail store in London by the end of this year, although a location is yet to be found.
Denmark is still the brand’s biggest market, where it has 54 stockists and sells direct to consumers from its website, two stores in Copenhagen, and one in the city of Aarhus. But Hertz tells Drapers that the UK and US will both soon overtake Denmark in terms of wholesale.
Goya and Hertz live in Copenhagen with their two children, aged 12 and 10. Stine Goya is stocked at luxury retailers such as Selfridges, Farfetch and Flannels, as well as independents including The Hambledon in Winchester, Wild Swans in London’s Islington and Chiswick, and Curate in Marlborough. The label has 450 stockists in 30 markets, and retail prices range from £100 for an organic cotton blouse, to £440 for a midi-dress.
Drapers hears about their plans for taking over the capital.
Why do you think London is the right fit for your new showroom and store?
Stine Goya: We want to be an international brand and we felt a lot of interest from the UK. Our main focus area was to build the UK and US markets, and it felt natural thanks to my studying here [Goya studied fashion print at Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2005]. We’re growing the company organically with us as the founders and owners.
Thomas Hertz: It’s a huge step and we’re really looking forward to opening up in London. When you work with agents [Stine Goya was represented in the UK by Somewhere Agency], it’s a good way to start and you don’t take the risk yourself. At some point you need to be more in control of what’s happening – you want to work deeper with each client – and we reached that point in the UK. We’re ready to take over and take control. We are really looking forward to the possibility of presenting the brand in a stronger way.
Which areas of the business did you have to reduce by 20% and why?
Goyá: We did that quite drastically, and it made a lot of sense for us to do. We cut a few people in the company, and also costs all over – in PR and marketing.
Hertz: We were growing heavily before Covid, and then we took a step back to move two steps forward, scaling down to manage the situation. Now we’re back at the same level in sales. The growth of the business is around 30% year-on-year.
We cut by 20% in all areas, a month after the first lockdown [April 2020] and then you have the impact of such cost cutting after three months, which put us in a position where we felt safe. We don’t have a big bank behind us, but we felt that we were in a good position to grow the company again. It sounds strange now – that you can take one step back to move two forwards. We weren’t sure that the business would grow like it did, but it has succeeded.
Which side of the business is bigger: wholesale or retail?
Hertz: At the moment the biggest is wholesale, at around 70:30. Part of the plan is for direct to consumer to become a bigger part of the company. Wholesale is a very important part – it helps with knowledge of the brand in different markets, [which makes it] easier to grow your e-commerce. You have to spend on marketing, but not as much, as the knowledge is already out there.
How do you keep the balance between independent and luxury stockists, and how did you work with stockists and suppliers throughout the pandemic?
Goyá: We have very close contact through each of our suppliers and stockists – and how to make sure they would take the goods that are on their way to their suppliers. We were close and [we] communicated.
Hertz: It’s more personal with independent stores. With department stores, it’s more commercial. It’s good to have both: during Covid our independent stores were really supportive and easier to work with than the big ones, which operate around a lot of politics. Although in a world where things are changing, it’s good to have a combination. We will definitely keep doing that going forward: you need the big international stores to create awareness.
What type of categories is the brand developing in 2022?
Goyá: We’re launching beach capsule collections for spring/summer 23. We used to do swimwear years ago, but this is a proper launch of swimsuits, beach bags, sarongs [and] sunglasses. We’re ready to develop more accessories now, and had a soft launch of footwear and accessories for pre-fall 22. We’ve hired a head of development, Naïma Chamberlayne [previously consulting as product director at Global Brands Group and Reiss], who’s helping us with the launches. Knitwear has also proved successful and we’ve had a good response to it.
We hear that people really enjoy the optimism in our brand, and definitely feel that it’s what people need – especially now with what’s going on in the world, it feels like you need to find the joy.