An artsy journey, from business to fashion
The commonly known recipe to make a successful fashion brand seems to always use the same ingredients. A fresh graduate from a reputed international fashion school presents a final year collection that lands them internships with prestigious fashion houses. A few years later, the graduate has grown up and moves on to creating their own fashion label, and voila!
One London entrepreneur is shaking this up and attempts to rewrite the codes of what makes a successful fashion brand. And the secret ingredient is as surprising as it is, well, obvious: a strong business acumen.
Meng Zhang founded her eponymous luxury lifestyle label MENG in 2013. A London Business School alumnus, former Head Buyer at Lane Crawford and Buying Director at Inditex Group, she has had almost 20 years of experience that gives her an advantage over the young talent coming out of the world’s fashion schools.
The industry of fashion can be unforgiving, and many young designers are forced to postpone their grand dreams of pushing the heaving gates of the world’s most prized department stores. Immediately after launching, MENG’s loungewear, beachwear and homeware collections were picked up by some of these retail giants – Harrods, Selfridges and Neiman Marcus amongst others were attracted by the brand’s concept of distinctive, artistic prints designed to decorate the wearer, or their home.
This is no coincidence though, it is the result of extensive market research ahead of launching, a key strategy for any smart business. Meng Zhang identified a gap that she turned into an opportunity – where to find loungewear that is comfortable without compromising on luxury? Combining this knowledge with a keen creative eye allowed MENG to set about making the loungewear collection of kimonos, kaftans and cover ups aimed at affluent women who live an international lifestyle. Cushions closely followed with the aim to build MENG into a full lifestyle brand.
Over the past three years, Meng has surrounded herself with a passionate, dedicated team that works relentlessly to help build this colourful dream. Finding the right people is a challenge in any company, and even more so for small startups. It is crucial to employ flexible people – jacks of all traits who thrive in an environment where they must take on multiple jobs and tasks, and have the potential to grow with the company.
Of course, there have been obstacles, lessons learnt the hard way. The strength of a successful startup lies in its tenacity, its ability to turn a challenge into an opportunity – a distinctive, die hard trait of MENG.
MENG is stocked in over 15 department stores and luxury boutiques in over 10 countries internationally. The brand now carries womenswear, loungewear, beachwear, accessories, homeware and has launched a debut menswear collection earlier this year. With new accounts opening season after season and the launch of their very own e-boutique, this is only the start for MENG.