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Mate Rates for Fashion Infiltration

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Melbourne, Victoria

A new Melbourne-based e-bike venture is about to create an unprecedented nexus between cycling and fashion.

As part of MateBike Australia’s launch last month, the company has signed up with a major online fashion retailer.

Mate this week became the first e-bike brand to be sold on leading Australian online fashion and lifestyle store The Iconic, a relationship Mate.Bike Australia Director Adam Wilkinson believes in the first of its kind in the world.

“If it works as well as we think it will … this will definitely make a difference to the Australian bike industry by getting young buyers to aspire to the product.”

“It’s going to be a game changer,” according to Adam, who says the exposure on The Iconic will “bring plenty of new eyes and volume to the brand” and e-bikes in general.

“The young consumer in Australia has typically not embraced e-bikes here like they have around the world.

“A lot of e-bike companies are probably pushing more at the 35-55 age bracket, if not older.

“There’s a niche we feel we can fill. The Iconic customer is typically 25 to 35 years old, which is around the sweet spot for that niche, as we see it.

“If it works as well as we think it will, and The Iconic’s forecasts certainly suggests it will, this will definitely make a difference to the Australian bike industry by getting young buyers to aspire to the product.”

The Iconic is traditionally an apparel, homewares and accessories store.

Adam said Mate was a perfect choice for The Iconic expansion into e-bikes “because it has that fashion element Iconic customers love”.

“It’s targeting the young consumer who has a full-time job, is into fashion, probably works in the inner city and want to commute,” he elaborated.

“Mate is right on the cutting edge of being a desirable and aspirational product.”

He said Mate bikes are not an entry-level option, at a retail price of $2,999 for the City range – with slimmer tyres, 250 watt motor and 14 amp battery – and $3,999 for the beefier all-terrain Mate X (250 watts, 17 amp battery and up to 120km range). However, they are attainable for the brand’s target demographic.

“There’s plenty more opportunity for brands to build upon a focus on fashion.”

The Iconic connection is a logical progression for Mate.Bike, a Dutch brand that has collaborated with numerous high-end fashion labels and last year received funding from a venture capital firm owned by US rapper Jay-Z, regarded as one of hip-hop’s most influential figures.

Mate’s profile has been significantly boosted by endorsements from a raft of celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Tommy Lee, Orlando Bloom, Kate Hudson and Lil Baby.

In 2016, Mate.Bike made history by raising US$24 million in crowdfunding on Indiegogo, the most in the platform’s history.

“There are definitely brands doing fashion well, such as Super 73, which has more of a motorbike angle,” Adam said.

Mate-Bike bikes in back of car with young couple
Mate-Bike Australia believes young Australian adults are under represented in the e-bike market and it’s targeting that niche.

“There’s plenty more opportunity for brands to build upon a focus on fashion. Most e-bike customers in Australia are still in an older demographic.

“Hopefully it helps to get more people out of cars and onto bikes.”

Mate.Bike Australia has already launched its own e-commerce website and signed up with fellow Melbourne firm and online retailer BikeExchange, with Mate bikes becoming available on that site from last month.

Showroom Coming Soon

The first Mate.Bike Australia showroom is on schedule to open this week, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Cremorne. Situated one and a half kilometres from the city centre, the location has been dubbed the Silicon Valley of Melbourne, because of its concentration of tech businesses.

It’s also located on Melbourne’s inner city cycleway network, making it easy for customers to take the store’s bikes for extended test rides.

The 150 square-metre, open-plan showroom is set to be another bold statement for the Mate brand. It will include a test area at the front, leading to a spacious showroom and, out the back, an entertainment area featuring a series of artistic collaborations.

“We will probably move away from the typical fashion collaborations, to focus more on art and the engineering, cultural fabrication space that then can align with the bikes.”

The first collaboration, a collection of interactive commercial sports pieces, will be part of the store’s official opening, scheduled for 10th July. Details of the collaboration will be announced soon.

“Mate has a unique place in the market. Its stores opening around the world, including its new showroom in Manchester and the flagship store in Copenhagen, are out-of-the-ordinary experiences and we want to recreate that here in Australia,” Adam said.

“They don’t feel like a typical bike store. The Copenhagen store is more like an art gallery and the Japanese store has an amazing business doing customised bikes. That’s their angle.

“We don’t want to replicate exactly what the overseas stores are doing … and are doing very well. We want to bring something different to the table, something they can potentially use and leverage overseas.

“We will probably move away from the typical fashion collaborations, to focus more on art and the engineering, cultural fabrication space that then can align with the bikes.”

Adam and Travis are talking to a couple of local artists to do street art murals in the store.
“We will then have bikes commissioned by the artists that we can put up as prizes for competitions or giveaways.

“We will look at doing something similar with other collaborations, including the sports pieces.

“That will really resonate with Asian markets and I’m sure we can sell some of those bikes over there.”

The Mate City (foreground) and Mate X.
The Mate City (foreground) and Mate X.

Global Focus on Iconic Deal

The Iconic relationship has generated plenty of excitement among Mate.Bike’s global family.

“The guys in Denmark are pretty excited. They are eagerly waiting for us to go live because it will be new for them too,” Adam said.

“We didn’t think about that from the start, but now it’s all becoming reality it certainly a feather in the cap for Mate’s Australian arm.

“Mate.Bike has previously had discussions with big online retailers but they have not materialised.

“The traditional online bike retailers have some scale but something like The Iconic, with its database of a few million, is very exciting.”

Adam and fellow Mate.Bike Australia Director Travis Wallis were well placed to take Mate in this direction. Both come from a background in apparel, including heading internationally successful fashion bag company Crumpler.

“Our previous roles have involved a lot of brand collaborations and that helped get us to the table with Mate.Bike,” Adam explained.

“I’ve had a long-term relationship with The Iconic with all my businesses. I know how they operate and the integration required – but The Iconic would not take Mate on unless they were excited about it.

“They have a strong marketing team and when we put forward all the marketing collateral, they thought it was fantastic.

“It could create opportunities for The Iconic to step up to higher-end luxury brands such as Palm Angel and Moncler through their association with Mate.”

Mate.Bike is planning its second global collaboration with Palm Angels and some of those bikes are likely to come to Australia.

Gold Coast Showroom

Adam said Mate.Bike Australia has already begun investigating potential sites for a showroom on the Gold Coast.

“Our focus will be our own online store, our showrooms, and just two or three key partners.”

It is also exploring B2B opportunities, including supplying bikes to hotels, resorts and “some of the interesting bike hire places in coastal locations”.

Mate will also continue to be sold by a couple of retailers who were previously selling the brand in Australia.

LiTMUS LAB is a tech-based business that sells a couple of scooters and e-bikes in concession stores in Myer, as well as on the Myer online platform.

“There are also a couple of boutique stores, including St Kilda Beach Club which is a good fit for the brand.

“Our focus will be our own online store, our showrooms, and just two or three key partners.

“We have a three-year plan to grow Mate significantly in this market.”

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