Colour The World
Created by Camilla Franks, one of Australia’s leading fashion designers and with the first collection launching at Australian Fashion Week in 2004, CAMILLA has since grown into a global brand with pieces being sold in 55 countries across the world. Here, RLI sits down with company CEO Jane McNally to discuss the expansion of the brand and what its next steps are in the world of fashion.
The vision of CAMILLA is to colour the world. Much more than a global fashion house, they are a collective of Print Makers, Storytellers, Adventurers and Artisans, drawing inspiration from the world around them to create unique works of art that empower others and transport the soul.
“Our over-arching vision mentioned earlier remains strong. This means expanding philanthropic purpose and encouraging a zest for life, as well as exploding demand for our vibrant colourful prints across the globe,” explains Jane McNally, CEO of CAMILLA. “In pursuit of this vision, we continue to extend the CAMILLA print house handwriting into new categories – especially women’s ready-to-wear, event and men’s clothing as well as expanding our territorial reach.”
The brand currently operates 22 boutiques in Australia and a further three in the US and they are all designed to be fully immersive sensory experiences. Adding to their portfolio, a further three boutiques are set to open their doors in the coming six months.
They are also proud to partner with over 250 wholesale doors globally – including premium retailers such as Harrods, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks 5th Avenue, Nordstrom and premium e-tailers such as Net-a-Porter, Matches, My Theresa and Farfetch. In addition, they have a strong online presence with their CAMILLA.com site currently shipping to 59 international destinations.
Their most recent store opening was just a few weeks ago in Merrick Park, Coconut Grove, Miami. Rather than being a fully-fledged store, this site is instead a two-year pop-up while they test the local market and build upon their database. Whilst this may only be a pop-up, the site remains a truly immersive experience which draws upon their credentials as a travel-inspired print house. The store also pays homage to Miami’s strong circus family traditions.
Prior to this launch, their previous store opening was in the beautiful Claremont in Western Australia, where they revealed Camilla Frank’s brand-new flagship design. “This site will provide the blueprint for all our future permanent shop fits. Our local customer community appear to be loving the new design which was created from Camilla’s travel vision and includes such amazing features as a hand-tooled classic French champagne bar which serves as a point of sale and accessories showcase and an opulent “Camilla Express” train carriage – in which to relax with a drink in hand,” explains McNally.
Looking to the future and additional locations, the brand has already signed leases for Short Hills, New Jersey and Bal Harbour, Florida and are in negotiations for a further four boutique sites in the US. In addition, they also have two Australian boutiques in the works that are on course to open before Christmas. Longer term, they are looking to combine their online presence in the UK and Europe with some physical boutiques and are also considering joint venture partnerships to help them create some CAMILLA magic in the Middle East and Asia.
With an incredibly strong design and product team inspired by their Founder and Creative Director, Camilla Franks, they always strive to keep close to their customer’s changing values, so often new product demand is organic. For example, their recent and commercially successful foray into CAMILLA printed bed linen evolved from multiple customer requests to colour their homes.
As the interview moves onto discussing social media, Jane highlights to us that social is core to the brand maintaining its connection with customers – they have over 700,000 very engaged followers and they tailor their approach to each channel to ensure this continued level of engagement.
“Instagram is our “glossy magazine” with elevated editorial shoots and the aspirational world of CAMILLA brought to life with models, influencers and celebrities. Meanwhile Facebook is all about community, we love to feature our followers, ask questions and host collection watch parties and events,” says McNally.
They also love to be experimental with newer platforms like TikTok and work with appropriate talent to give a presence on other social channels like Weibo, WeChat and YouTube.
The company has not stopped growing since its inauguration in 2004 and McNally puts this down to several reasons, firstly the brand is totally unique. Storytelling is intrinsic to its DNA and they create wearable forms of art that are positively transformational. Everything they create is strictly limited edition – they never repeat the same item in the same print. They are a luxury brand which operates on weekly, limited drops which in turn make their pieces highly collectible. In addition, Jane feels that customers appreciate the joy and escapism that CAMILLA pieces inspire. Consistent customer feedback suggests that their designs make them feel good and puts them in a happy space.
“The CAMILLA brand is about more than fashion. It is easy for a company to publish a set of values but here we truly live and breathe them. We are joyful and unexpected, we lead with love and we fight for those who are not as privileged as ourselves,” McNally says.
As our time runs out we quickly ask Jane what is the greatest challenge facing the business?
“Undoubtedly there are tough macro-economic tailwinds in the aftermath of the pandemic. There is no resting state. We have to be continually innovative, on our game and strive for continual improvement.”