The idea of “the Billini girl” is at the heart of this footwear brand’s retailing and design. Nathalie King shares tips on how Billini stays true to its growing brand.
Branding and image are key to making a business thrive, but how can you keep your brand image personal and approachable? Fashion designer and retailer Billini does this through the idea of “the Billini girl”, a concept at the core of their branding.
Nathalie King, Creative and Product Manager at Billini, shared her insights with Power Retail.
Founded in 2009 by Creative Director Susannah Khouzame, Billini is a leading Australian footwear brand that strives to be “the go-to destination for the newest fashion styles at accessible prices.” Rapid growth has seen the business develop a significant digital presence alongside its 11 stores, a testament to its mix of boutique styles and affordable prices. The brand also aims to deliver “the newest, most coveted styles” by regularly releasing the latest ranges, a move crucial to any business that wants to stay relevant in the ever-changing digital market.
King cites the brand’s accessible boutique feel as her favourite offering: “I love that the brand is a high-fashion, luxe feel look while being affordable. It is so quick to market with new trends and looks, yet the prices are so competitive that you can buy more forward, fringey looks without breaking the bank – or multiple pairs every season!”
She also takes pride in the uniqueness of the products, which Billini designs itself. “The Billini signature is clear in every pair of shoes we design,” she says. “I feel as though the brand identity is apparent from product through to campaigns.”
The team sources new designs and products through international travel, tracking trends by exploring what’s “taking off” in key fashion destinations such as New York, London, and Los Angeles. “Then we head to the fabric & trims markets,” explains King, “to get new fabrications and luxe finishes to set our styles apart from the rest of the marketplace, and keep the trends cohesive across a range. We then come back and workshop our ideas, to create multiple ranges, drops and edits.”
King says that designs are “always true to the Billini girl.” To make sure the creative process stays in line with the company’s vision, she personally sources trends the brand will focus on each season. “Once I have developed a range, the trends and looks are communicated to the marketing team with clear briefs to ensure that our message is consistent with our product and that we are telling the same stories to our customer.”
This process is adaptable and organic, with a line taking off in new directions or even becoming a standalone collection if a particularly popular trend emerges.
Billini’s high-fashion feel extends to its photo shoots, which take place in-house and on a regular basis “to ensure that we have strong imagery to support our ranges.”
The photo-shoot process always keeps in mind the brand’s central concept. “We do castings with models that we think will suit the brief and represent the Billini girl,” says King. “All of our shoots are quite aspirational and editorial as we like to create a really luxe, high fashion feel with all of our campaigns. It is always a big project and a team effort, but the results are always so rewarding!”
Billini’s success as a footwear retailer has recently seen it move into other types of fashion. “After working on our Summer ranges and seeing the trends coming through, we wanted to expand the brand into accessories,” explains King. “We saw so many amazing styles and looks overseas, and wanted to incorporate these into our range! We have touched on the tortoiseshell and bone finishes which are a luxe-bohemian look, and have of course incorporated a lot of chic, glam gold statement styles which are very ‘Billini’.”
With its huge Instagram following, Billini has made good use of its branding on social media. “We have been growing the brand for almost ten years,” says King. “From when the brand launched, social media has become such a huge platform for communicating with our customers. In a saturated market, we have noticed the importance of having a unique Instagram feed and have funnelled our efforts and focus into creating our own high-engagement social content and strong messaging of the brand through aligned lifestyle and influencer posts.”
This has “done wonders for the brand”, increasing customer engagement at a rapid rate, but what about Billini’s relationship with third-party retailers such as The ICONIC and Princess Polly?
“We look for brands that are in line with the Billini look,” explains King. “With saying that, a lot of our customers are so different, and buy completely different products to suit their customers. We have enough products in our ranges that the edits the buyers make can be tailored to their own brand and don’t have too much crossover.”
She also says that it’s important to have good representatives who market and sell the brand well. “We have a team of amazing sales agents who represent our brand,” she says. “They show the ranges to our customers on a regular basis to ensure that they are always aware of the new product we have in the pipeline! We share our marketing and brand material with our customers to ensure they can represent the brand in the best possible way, and always work closely with them across marketing opportunities.”
The future looks fashionably bright for the company and its “Billini girl” image, with King hinting at “exciting collaborations, to new stores, new ranges, more accessories and international expansion.” She says that the company will continue to grow its brand, but that they’re also “ready to take it to the next level. Stay tuned!”