Founder and CEO Sean Ashby on the Australia-based innerwear brand’s positioning, strategies and plans for India
New Delhi: Sean Ashby started Aussiebum in 2001 selling nylon swimwear out of the trunk of his car. The humble venture is today a global brand, with a presence in 128 countries worldwide including Australia, the USA, the UK, France, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and other European and South American countries.
With products crafted from eco-friendly and biodegradable fabrics, the brand not only prioritises style but also sustainability.
In December 2023, Aussiebum generated a revenue of $864,315 from online sales, which is significantly higher than the median revenue of $150,867 in the industry, as per New York-based e-commerce intelligence platform Grips Intelligence.
As Aussiebum sets its sights on the vibrant market of India, its founder and chief executive officer Sean Ashby gives insights into the brand’s positioning, strategies and plans for the market.
Tell us the story behind Aussiebum’s inception.
The core concept behind Aussiebum is to offer reasonably priced, top-notch men’s underwear, swimwear, and apparel to men.
The nylon swimwear that we sold from the back of our private car garnered attention. Then, I built the Aussiebum website from scratch over six months, covering everything from design to marketing. The initial sales marked the beginning of a unique success story.
What is the company’s USP?
We use a wide range of environmentally friendly and biodegradable fabrics, like modal and bamboo to do our bit for the environment. We like breaking the stereotypical norms attached to the innerwear industry and educating individuals about different innerwear fabrics that improve functionality and performance.
Our consistency in quality ensures that our items maintain their excellence. This is further reflected in our customer retention rates. Our motto, ‘If you doubt yourself, wear something else!’ captures the spirit that defines Aussiebum in the fashion world.
When did you begin operations in India?
We started our operations in India in October 2023. Our product categories primarily revolve around men’s apparel, underwear, swimwear, and clothing. Within these categories, we offer a wide array of styles, including briefs, trunks, jocks, thongs, swimming briefs, swimming trunks, streetwear tracksuits, and casual dress shorts.
Which channels are you present on?
We are an e-commerce brand and have been selling online for over 23 years. We occasionally have pop-up stores which help us create a buzz when we begin selling in new countries.
We currently operate as an e-commerce platform, with exclusive Aussiebum wholesalers distributing our products in brick-and-mortar stores. We are exploring opportunities to expand our reach by identifying and joining relevant marketplaces to showcase and sell our products.
Our decision is driven by the recognition of India’s potential as a significant fashion hub, where the convergence of global and local influences creates a diverse landscape. Recognizing India’s emergence as a vibrant destination for innerwear fashion, in particular, is a testament to the refined style choices of Indian males. We aim to become an integral part of the subtle style statement part of the evolving Indian male psyche.
Additionally, the tropical climatic conditions in India have led to a spin in fabric choices, emphasizing the importance of combining style with functionality. This has led to a growing emphasis on developing textiles that align with contemporary fashion trends while providing skin-friendly, lightweight, and comfortable options tailored to address the challenges of hot and humid weather. Moreover, sustainability has emerged as a prominent trend in Indian men’s fashion, with eco-friendly and sustainable choices gaining popularity as environmental awareness spreads.
What do you feel is lacking in the Indian innerwear market?
The innerwear market in India holds a significant value of approximately Rs 48,123 crore and is anticipated to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5%, projecting a market value of Rs 26,952 crores by 2025.
Despite its substantial size, the market is predominantly dominated by options that lack functionality in terms of quality, fabric, and regional suitability. There exists a noticeable void in terms of innovation, fabric diversity, density, and opportunities for personal expression.
We aim to fill the lacuna and cater to all aspects of the wardrobe needs of an Indian man. Furthermore, we like to break the stereotypical norms regarding men’s fashion by taking on the role of educators within the market into different innerwear fabrics and how they can lead to better comfort and performance.
We adapt our brand and its personality to the market we enter, whether it be by using the local dialect, choosing authentic people to model our products that customers would relate to or inspire to be like, or tailoring our messaging to the needs of customers.
Which has been your most sold product so far?
Our most sold category across 2023 was innerwear, contributing to 70% of total sales. The most popular products that we think would suit the Indian market are Cottonsoft 2.0, which comes in briefs and trunks, Wonderjock 2.0, which also comes in a wide range of colours and designs like a shapeshifter, along with Enlarge 2.0 which is widely available in solid colours. However, our iconic range is our classic brief range which comes in bright colours like Aussiebum red and Navy Marle.
How do you use technology?
We use technology at every given opportunity. I like to give my colleagues any tool that will help with their creative or data analysis process. We have advanced technology in our stock intake, digital analytics and data entry.
Even on the creative and copy side, we have introduced AI to help with the creative process. We have an internal PowerBI (Business Intelligence) system that helps us automate things and forecast when and in what quantity we need to stock products. The system is custom-built, just like our website.
It captures all our data extensively including the quantity and types of products sold and their geographies, and then we can break it down to each country to see their respective trending products. From this, we can also forecast when products need to be restocked.
Do you use technology in your products?
We have a wide range of innerwear technology across our ranges. Some of our most popular tech advancements are our iconic ‘Ultra Pouch-Enhancing Technology’ which is used for our WonderJock 2.0 and Enlarge 2.0 innerwear. We also have patented ‘4D framing technology’ which gives customers the ultimate support. Our anti-chafe technology that features in our trunk range of ‘comfy bamboo’ has been very popular with athletes and men with labour-intensive jobs that guarantee men stay comfortable all day.
What are your expectations and plans for 2024?
In 2024, innovation will take centre stage, with brands exploring new materials and manufacturing techniques that align with the environment and evolving needs of the customers. Sustainability and ethical practices are becoming imperative, reflecting a broader trend towards eco-conscious choices.
From a retail standpoint, with e-commerce predicted to constitute 22.3% of total retail sales by 2024, retailers will prioritize a seamless online experience, quick deliveries, secure payments, and personalized recommendations.
We aim to capture a 3-5% share of the Indian innerwear market by 2026. With a rapidly expanding digital infrastructure and flourishing e-commerce sector, we are confident in emerging as a significant player in the global online retail space.