Nana: Fashion has infinite possibilities, and new power is born from it. As a carrier of culture and times, fashion encompasses everything. From trendy to traditional culture, from celebrities, idols to everyone’s daily life, and from West to East, it is our discourse, our power, our time. Through Asian Voice, we hope to spread the local Asian fashion culture to the world by moving cross languages and borders.
In this issue, we welcome WODEN, a streetwear brand from Taiwan. In WODEN, you can enjoy the collision and fusion of multiple styles such as Nordic aesthetics, streetwear, underground culture, the out-door style and so on. As a Taiwanese brand growing up in a multi-cultural environment, WODEN does not limit itself to a single style but continues to present a variety of designs and elements, hoping to let its customers discover the fun of playing around with their outfit. WODEN is also focusing on lifestyle. It is reflected in the way they take promotional photos, and in the household supplies products it offers. You can learn about more details from this interview.
Such a diversified brand from the concept to products has not only not been affected but also found new business opportunities during Covid-19. We can tell that only the diversity and tolerance of things can be timeless.
Luckily, we were able to meet the WODEN team to face to face this time. Each of them has their own strengths, adhering to the love of fashion, brand and more importantly, life to make the brand, make clothes and deliver their aesthetics of life through their products.
Nana: What is the story behind WODEN such as the concepts, messages and the themes it has?
Vic: WODEN brand was founded in 2009, using the alias of the Norse god Odin (WODEN) as the brand name, which is in charge of war, death, wisdom and poetry and so on. In the beginning, we are closely related to European art and culture, and is widely known for its various feather pattern products. The recent WODEN brand design mainly present in a way of fabrics and color dressing. Recently we integrate the 80s and 90s street fashion elements as the starting point, including vintage, military, outdoor, hip-hop, street dance culture to make a “new vintage” that is different from the market, so that the brand’s vintage atmosphere is enhanced.
Nana: The styles change a lot from beginning to now! May I ask what made WODEN change?
Chie: We started by making clothing products with Nordic aesthetics design style because they pay a lot of attention to the details, and the founder of the brand, Mr.Walker Tsang, is my mentor and inspiration. In 2015 we started to do the designs. We both like a little more diverse culture so we combined some of the styles like hip-pop or outdoor. Taiwan has a very diverse culture, and is a place where can accept a lot of different styles, cultures.
We hope that through not only through clothing, but also through household goods to convey our life attitude to all consumers. So you can see our instagram name, WODEN will be followed by the “life” word.
Nana: Not only fashion, but WODEN is also very concerned about life!
Chie: Yes, we will run competitions or sponsor some rappers so that the whole community who want to learn about different cultures can be exposed to the brand.
For example, September is Chinese moon festival. We showcased a limited tee, and gift box.
As a result, we sold out before the moon festival and attracted new customers to join Woden’s members.
Nana: What is your impression about current fashion in Taiwan? Does it influence your brand?
Chie: I think Taiwan’s fashion is very diverse, and there are many different styles in the Taiwanese market. However, in the past few years, because of the Internet, the style has become more and more consistent and similar.
I think each person’s outfit can be more diversified, like to do more different mix. Like the recent collaborations of Gucci and ADIDAS, or LV and supreme, this kind of cross-border cooperations show us the era of using a single brand for one’s whole outfit already passed.
When we move into global trend, underground elements can be brought to more different levels, so I think it influences our current brand’s style. We use a more diversified orientation, more multiple perspectives to think.
Vic: Customers want a lot of things recently, so we can make our style more diverse to create our brand’s identity and attract different kinds of customers.
We also collaborated with different industry. Like NFT project, “the heart project”recently, which promoted by Hong Kong super star Edison Chen this year. The second one is that we collaborated with Taiwanese biggest plastic company SHUTER, we designed new look of container together. Also recently we are cooperating with Taiwan pro basketball team “Steelers” in our city Kaohusiung to showcase a new type of sports products.
We are trying to provide a more diverse product line, not only clothes. So we can stimulate and expand our brand’s identity.
More importantly have fun!
Nana: Thank you for letting us know the first-hand information! All different industries, that is amazing! Even though your brand is very diverse, but the brand still has unified image. Do you have any special strategies on that?
Kevin: We pay a lot of attention to product photography. For example, a piece of clothing, from the color to the composition we will think about how to use the shot to convey the product to the consumer.
For example, this series of images’ subject is a singer from Taiwan, Trout Fresh. He actually has a very liberal lifestyle. We will try to make the shooting style and approach closer to it, and conduct a lot of communications and discussions to do this shooting and planning. Of course, we also return to the brand, we like to discuss different life styles in our images, not only just about how good-looking the clothes are.
It’s more like a dynamic feeling. We don’t just do photography statically, but focus on the coherence of the photos more.
Nana: How many stores do you have to distribute your products in Taiwan?
Vic: We have six shops in Taiwan, and we have 15 distributors in Taiwan.
Nana: How do you come up and decide on the themes for your collections every time?
Ajon: We will discuss the clothing design and themes of each season, and which ideas we want to focus on as the main idea.
We will look at the color schemes of the 80s and 90s as a reference in order to determine the theme as well as combining some modern elements of the fashion industry by checking out new internet trends, reading fashion magazines, and attending international exhibitions of various Asian brand.
We also adapt to new market trends by adding products to our product line that can be used in customers’ daily lives. For example, the outdoorsy style has become popular in recent years and as a result, WODEN now has released camping chairs, basket wagons, folding shelves etc. which displays o ur adaptability to the rising popularity of outdoor and rustic style product.
We discovered that our target market really likes this style, fabric and color splicing, and integrates the street fashion elements of the 80s and 90s as the design starting point.
It’s retro but not out of date.
Chie: The design was more diverse in the past. But now may be consolidated by the media resulting in a single style, but in those days everyone went with their own preferences without too many uniform styles appearing on the market.
Our brand has six stores, we have other brands in addition to WODEN, also want to let consumers have more options.
Nana: Can you tell us about some of the most challenging experiences you have had during the process of building your brand?
Vic: When it comes to challenging experiences, I will separate it into 3 different stages. The first one is we discover and build our brand competitiveness through trial and error. The second one is facing inventory problems. Our stock is limited but in order to meet our customers expectations, we increased our stock in 2019. The third one is receiving more brand awareness not only in Taiwan but overseas by running international marketing campaigns.
Nana: Did you have some problems on Covid-19 situations in Taiwan?
Chie: No actually. Our brand is more bonded with consumers. In our stores, the staff will do some consultant services with customers when Covid-19, because people will go out less. Instead of robotic sales service, we make sure to do one-on-one services and sales with our customers. We will track our customers’s feedback and set the correct strategies.
We also developed a lot of products of household supplies. For example, some small items for storage. At the beginning there was a little impact, but we grasped the chance and developed a different direction and make an integration of online and offline.
Nana: How the staff of WODEN different than the usual ones?
Chie: We will give our customers a range and observe what they like. When they show the interest, we will make a suggestion to them. Our staff is more like a stylist not a sales person.
Nana: Do you have any advice for our readers who are seeking to find a way to build a brand just like “WODEN“?
Vic: Firstly, you need to figure out what do you want to communicate with your customers. You need to know why consumers buy your product.
Also, leveraging social media, images, photos, copywriting are all essential elements to build a brand.
Finally, merging offline and online marketing strategies. It’s the digital generation.But you know, according to the news, over 70% of consumers still name physical stores as their preferred shopping channel. So, having a diverse marketing plan is essential.
It not only provides online and offline shopping experiences at the same time, but also strives to create personalized sales services for consumers. We can understand customers’ shopping habits and preferences as well as their sales records.
You need to figure out what do you want to communicate with your customers.