A Chat with Brian Wu of Incu – Broadsheet Q&A

A Chat With Brian Wu from Incu

We chat to Incu co-founder Brian Wu about their new women’s focused retail space in QV.

The team at Incu are renowned for their ability to select on-the-mark labels from Australia and abroad. After establishing their presence on the Melbourne landscape with their Flinders Lane store, they’re about to open their first women’s focussed retail space in QV. Featuring the first Topshop range available in Melbourne – which will share rack space with labels like Alexander Wang, Henrik Vibskob and Acne – this store is very much a combination of high and low, fast fashion versus slow design. We chatted with Brian Wu, who founded Incu in 2002 with his brother Vincent.

LG: You guys have been busy with the opening of your online store last year and now the first women’s focussed Incu store in Melbourne about to open in July. Can you tell me a little more about this and what your plans are here?

BW: So Incu women’s store is opening in mid-July in QV where we will be bringing 90 per cent of our women’s lines from Sydney over. There will be small differences between our first fully-fledged women’s store in Melbourne and our Sydney equivalent, but I think it will still exhibit a similar environment and store experience.

For me, Incu have always curated a great selection of labels whilst also fostering local brands such as Lover, Romance was Born and Rittenhouse. Will your team be taking a similar product strategy at the QV women’s store? And if so, what can the Melbourne customer expect?

I think one of the things we try to push is a balance of product. Effectively, you’ve got product that’s a bit more accessible, for example brands like Something Else, mixed with brands that are more exclusive to us like Rag and Bone, Marc by Marc Jacobs and APC. So ultimately I think we like to have customers walk into our store and have them walk out with something, not making them feel that our spaces are monuments to high end and unattainable items. One of our approaches is to always be inclusive instead of exclusive. Rather than enclosing Incu to a particular niche we try to be quite open.

So as you were saying about this accessibility on multiple levels, this is also something that is quite rare in the fashion retail market in Australia. Given that Melbourne fashion historically has inherently been tied to the colour black, and perhaps has quite a distinct identity compared to Sydney, where do you think a store like Incu sits against this?

I think it will be refreshing. I know what you mean about this link to the colour black and I think its slowly changing – we’ve witnessed this in the men’s store. We’ve also really noticed a shift to people dressing a bit more casually and not wanting to dress up all the time. Having said that though, there ultimately will be a balance in our store where, on the one hand, we can satisfy the customer who comes in and just buys black, whilst also offering garments that have a lot more colour. For me, I think it’s about finding the right balance between offering garments that are whimsical and colourful, which also have visible design detail and taste. At Incu we like to really focus on brands that have a strong design sensibility and brands that have interesting stories. While Melbourne and Sydney are inherently different markets, we feel that Incu can stand out and offer something that’s unique.

Have you noticed a difference between your Sydney customer and your Melbourne customer?

Definitely, because of the weather and the climate Melbourne is a lot more dressier and that comes out more in particular items that we sell in our men’s store, like jackets and suiting. I also find that the Melbourne customer walks in and takes more of an interest in what we are selling – they want to find out the stories behind the designers and the garment. We’ve been in Sydney for so long that perhaps our Sydney customers have a level of trust in us, and I guess because of this history they may purchase a brand that is perhaps a little edgier. In Melbourne, however, and because we are still developing and trying to grow and earn people’s trust, we’ve witnessed our male customers in particular buying a little safer and focussing more classic silhouettes, design details and tailoring. We know that women are a lot more knowledgeable in their fashion choices so it will be very interesting to see what happens.

Incu Womens QV will open in mid July.

Copyright Leon Goh & Broadsheet 2011

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