[This is a guest post by Adela Chioveanu. Adela is a Romanian marketing student currently studying in Barcelona. Passionate about fashion and marketing, Adela can be reached on Twitter @adela_chioveanu and on her personal blog.]
Some of you may have never heard of Romania or think that its capital city is Budapest. Well, Romania is a country from the south-east of Europe and its capital is Bucharest. The fashion industry in Romania is in its early stages due to the weak economical development of our country. While big fashion retailers like Inditex (Zara) or Mango entered the market just a few years ago, the Romanian market has exceeded their expectations in terms of revenues and benefits.
The field of fashion marketing doesn't quite exist in Romania, at least not in a formal way. The big retailers hire normal PR agencies in order to carry out their campaigns, while the small designers take good use of the new developed social media field and promote their pieces through those channels.
Young designers in Romania use social media channels because they are cheap and they also help them to establish a more valuable connection with their customers. For example, I have many Romanian fashion designers as friends on Facebook, and see their latest updates and collection through this social network. Twitter is also gaining in popularity because, if used correctly, it can help you establish a real bond with your customers.
Social media has proven to be the answer for young designers who lack the communication budgets of the big retailers. Fashion marketing online has seen a sharp rise in the last years and even though the penetration rate of the Internet isn't high in Romania, most people have at least one account on a social network that they use to interact with their friends. The younger Romanian generation is really engaged in social media and since they also represent the core target of small retailers and designers, the use of social networks is a successful, relevant communication channel.
Even though the Romanian economic environment isn't the best, talented designers in Romania are courageously star. ting to promote their lines locally and online. Independent fashion label BURP is proof that with strong will and a high level of enthusiasm you can transform a hobby into a full-time business.
If fashion were a fairytale, BURP would be the little duck that transforms into a swan. In times when the fashion scene is dominated by big retailers, Romanian designers at Burp have managed to develop a small accessory line that is innovative and fresh.
Who’s behind BURP?
Nicoleta Iordanescu and Rodica Savulescu – two twenty-some girls who like to think they create stuff that makes people happy.
They don’t have a formal background in fashion design – but they’ve always been drawing and creating things. Before forming BURP they studied communication and PR in school – and went on to work in advertising (Leo Burnett Romania) for a few years. BURP started mostly as a way to channel work stress in a creative direction.
That was back in 2006. After work, they used to “play” with different fabrics, cut, sew and glue them – and create characters based on the people they met. They gave each of them a name and a personality and then turned them into accessories – brooches or earrings – to wear at work the next day. After a while, the “game” became something that they couldn’t stop thinking or talking about. That is when they decided to turn it into a bigger project and, of course, find a suitable name for it.
"BURP was the best choice for a name, but it came unexpectedly. We didn’t necessarily want it to be in English, but it sounded just right and it also helps in terms of marketing our products to other countries.”
The story behind the naming process is that it symbolizes the “philosophy” of the products: BURPing is something one does when they’re full of it, when they’ve had more than enough. Most of the stores offer clothes and accessories that are so boring, so similar to each other and so all-over-the-place. That makes people BURP: they’re fed up with looking the same with thousands of other people.
Defining the brand BURP
BURP offers people something special - fashion with a concept. The main concept is creating one-of-a-kind items (or very small collections) that fit unique personalities. BURP is for all those who love a good story and who have fun with fashion, no matter their age.
BURP’s personality is a mix of cuteness and strangeness, all delivered in a story. That’s why they chose “NEVERGROWUP” as a slogan. It’s a defining phrase for all BURP products that are directed towards people that need stories and look for something more than just a product to spend their money on.
In terms of pricing, BURP offers affordable products. At the same time, they are one-of-a-kind or part of small series of clothes & accessories, which makes them appealing, as there’s little risk of running into somebody else wearing the same thing as you do.
What about Sales?
When talking about marketing BURP products, several things have been taken into consideration. In truth, the two designers had a hard time finding the right place on the Romanian market. They’ve found a niche that appreciates their work and a way to enjoy the nicest things a small business has to offer: direct contact.
Who is BURP`s customer?
BURP clients appreciate unique products, they crave for stories accompanying their accessories or clothes and they like to support indie brands and young designers. This is really refreshing in a country that seems to be suffocated with “logo-buyers”, who spend lots of money only to feed their egos and be able to show off.
How is BURP promoted?
BURP is promoted through “underground PR & advertising.” Nicoleta and Rodica haven't felt the need to focus much on traditional media (print, TV & the like) in order to get their message across.
The BURP blog has been the main “PR tool” since the beginning. The first blog posts were in Romanian, as they were mainly writing for themselves and their friends. But then they started to write in English in order to make available the BURP stories to more people. This has gained them a lot of foreign friends & fans.
They have also sent out product samples to some fashion editors which became instantly interested in BURP and called them back and asked for products to use in their following fashion editorials. They have been featured in the Romanian editions of ELLE, GLAMOUR, Good Homes and several national publications (Bolero, ON, Look, Tabu, J’adore, Shopping Report , Ideal Mariaj).
Recently they signed a contract with a ready-to-wear Romanian brand, Tina R, along with several other accessories designers. The idea of this collaboration is bringing one-of-a-kind, special accessories to the Tina R stores, thus providing more visibility to young designers. It's the first time in Romania that such a big retail player has introduced handmade accessories in its retail space. They're still at the beginning of this collaboration, but it seems to be working well, as lots of people are already giving great feedback