Tuesday, March 5, 2024

July

Made for the World

The luggage business July exists to bring better design and thinking around how people travel, allowing them to ensure they can focus on the parts of travelling they love. In this interview, we spend some time with Co-Founder Richard Li to find out about the growth of the brand since its inception and what the future holds.

The company began as an opportunity to fix an industry in disarray. Co-Founders, Richard Li and Athan Didaskalou saw a category that was selling poorly designed products at extreme premiums – and they were intent on fixing it.

After speaking with hundreds of regular travellers and reading thousands of online reviews to find out the key troubleshooting points and desires in luggage, they launched July in 2019 with a single product, the Carry-On.

Today, the brand boasts a suite of beautiful travel products, from hard-shell suitcases to overnight bags, backpacks, toiletry bags and packing cells. Regularly seen on the arms of personalities like Harry Styles, Chrissy Teigen and Apple Martin, they are also the official luggage supplier of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games as the brand continues to reach new heights every day.

“We currently operate a total of nine stores, with four located in Melbourne, three in Sydney and one in Queensland, Australia along with one in New York City, US,” explains Richard Li, Co-Founder of July. “We opened our first retail store in August 2019 with a pop-up on the ground floor of Melbourne’s Emporium Shopping Centre. Following this, we then launched in the US in mid-2021 and rolled out in the UK in June last year.”

Aside from their own physical stores, their products are available in various retail locations across China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. They are also proud to be stocked in the renowned UK department store, Selfridges.

Back in October, the company launched its first ever US pop-up concept in New York City. The SoHo-based pop-up invited New Yorkers to experience July’s best-selling products in-person, including the world’s lightest carry-on suitcase. The pop-up also ran various promotions throughout its lifespan, including bundle and save opportunities, in-store activations and product personalisation.

Meanwhile in 2023, they also successfully expanded their reach by entering six new markets, a significant milestone in their global presence. As they continue to chart their growth trajectory, Japan is the next destination on the horizon.

When discussing the development pipeline for the next year or two, Li explains that they are focused on introducing exciting new products and expanding their presence through the opening of additional retail locations, ensuring a wider geographical footprint and improved convenience for existing and future customers.

“When developing new products or initiatives, it all begins with speaking to our customers both online and in-person on the shop floor, gathering valuable insights into their preferences, needs and emerging trends. This real-time feedback loop allows us to understand market dynamics and respond to changing consumer demands,” Li comments.

“We are committed to a culture of continuous experimentation and innovation. Our teams are always testing and trying new things, whether it is refining existing products or exploring entirely new concepts. This approach enables us to identify opportunities for improvement and stay ahead of the curve,” he continues.

In addition, they also operate an efficient product pipeline that allows them to bring an initial concept to life in just three to six months. This agile timeline ensures that they can consistently bring fresh ideas to the market.

When speaking about the future of retail, Li highlights that their approach focuses on quality products, exceptional customer service and physical retail experiences. He continues by saying that they continue to be laser focused on the creation of exceptional and exciting products, blending innovation and quality to consistently exceed customer expectations. Complementing this is their commitment to outstanding customer service, ensuring a seamless and personalised journey for every customer.

Discussing social media and sustainability, Li says that social media often serves as the initial touchpoint for their customers, offering a powerful platform to connect with them on a personal level. They leverage this channel to not only showcase their products but, more importantly, to convey their brand values and aesthetics directly to their key customers.

As for sustainability, he explains that July is committed to sustainability throughout their product lifecycle. Their suppliers, audited by BSCI, ISO and Veritas, adhere to high corporate and social responsibility standards. In terms of materials, they prioritise the use of recycled polycarbonate for their luggage shells whenever possible. These materials are of the highest quality and durability, so the luggage gets to travel for longer, reducing the frequency and need of purchase significantly.

The company sees the future as omni-channel and their commitment to innovation is geared toward creating exciting and cohesive experiences for their customers across various touchpoints. This includes actively working on expanding their presence through new retailers, like Selfridges and strategic partnerships with stockists. Currently, their website serves as a hub for interactive experiences and they are excited about the ongoing innovation possibilities it brings to enhancing our customer engagement.

So what does Li consider to be the key drivers behind the brand’s success to date?
“The brand is rooted in a commitment to delivering a high-quality product. We prioritise innovation and functionality in our offerings, ensuring that our customers receive products that meet and exceed their expectations. Another critical factor is our emphases on strong creative elements. We believe in the power of creativity to captivate and resonate with our audience. This creative approach extends across various aspects of our brand, from product design to marketing campaigns, enhancing the overall experience.”

Also, they have worked hard to establish a distinct brand voice and positioning. By creating a brand that stands out in the crowded market, they are able to connect with their target audience more effectively.

Looking to the future, the primary focus of the company is on scaling the business while preserving the unique essence that sets July apart.
“Achieving this delicate balance involves both strategic expansion and the thoughtful selection of team members who align with our values and vision. A key aspect of this journey is recognising when to step back, ensuring that growth aligns with our core values and does not compromise the authenticity that our customers appreciate. We are excited for the next steps for the business,” concludes Li.

RECENT ARTICLES