Your Company

No sweat: How a Gold Coast activewear business got dressed for success

No sweat: How a Gold Coast activewear business got dressed for success

When activewear label Cleo Harper launched its brand of feminine-yet-functional activewear in 2016, the activewear market was a lot less crowded. Still, founder and creative director Vanessa Levey decided the brand needed to be different.

From its Burleigh base on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Cleo Harper has attracted a global following for its distinctive combination of soft, luxurious fabrics, elegant aesthetic, yet highly functional design.

“One of the things that keeps our aesthetic going is always looking for something that is really feminine in the activewear space,” Levey said.

“When we started, everything in activewear was very sporty and was heavily branded with lots of logos. It was really hard to find something that was a bit more refined, even elegant, and minimal in the branding.

“We wanted to create something that women would feel really nice wearing, so women can feel the great quality and that the cuts and the style and the colours are for them.

“It’s something you won’t find in a lot of other places. It’s not lost on us though that what we have is hard to find too. We’re very lucky to be a business doing what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and where we are doing it right now.”

That mix of product, location, and collaboration – including a partnership since debut with international fitness trainer Kelsey Wells and her nearly 3 million Instagram followers – has made Cleo Harper one brand that has suddenly found itself at the juncture of many of the major retail trends for 2023.

Get Phygital

One of the retail trends expected to expand in 2023 is the rebirth of in-store shopping. As Covid restrictions ease and more people look to get off their online shopping screens and into the stores, retailers are moving increasingly towards the “phygital” concept of combining a brick-and-mortar shop with the digital shopping experience.

Levey said in the past few months, Cleo Harper recently opened the doors to its first dedicated boutique in Burleigh Heads. A combination of stunningly styled shop front, work out room, event space, and even community hub, the boutique also offers customers a new take on the warehouse door experience.

It’s no accident the boutique is off the main strip and closer to the light industrial edge of the beachside Burleigh.

“We generally talk about our beach-side location, but this is also significant because the industrial estate is almost replacing or thriving more than the main street itself,” Levey said.

“We’re so close to the coastline but also got industrial areas that are becoming cool and trendy. People like coming here to shop at the tucked away boutiques and warehouses.

“When people have their brands that they love and they’ve found, they’ll go out of their way to come to the outlet or the warehouse or the showroom, and that’s what’s happening with our brand now.”

Luxe location

Think retail therapy meets exquisite picture-postcard destination. Located in one of the most popular villages in the one of the world’s best known beach destinations, Cleo Harper is quintessentially Burleigh.

From the Cleo Harper home page through to its latest Summer Sky look book, the Gold Coast beach lifestyle is ever-present and turns the e-commerce online shopping experience into a blissful travel escape.

“Where we live is part of our story,” Levey said.

“Sometimes we underestimate how beautiful it is to live in Queensland and Burleigh and how lucky we are to have a business in this space.

“What we’re able to show and present and where we exist as a business is an eye opener, and our customers love it.”

Shopping trips redefined

Levey said that the return to in-store shopping was also building a trend towards destination shopping experiences.

“It doesn’t hurt that we ‘re living in one of the most beautiful locations in the world,” she said.

“People build a trip around it and that helps other businesses in Burleigh as well.”

She said customers were travelling from interstate to visit the boutique as part of their Gold Coast experience. But it was the growth in the number of day trippers who were building quick getaways around visits to favourite brands that had really started to emerge..

Personal loyalty and partnerships

As e-commerce evolves to offer an increasingly personalised experience, some brands have already captured a loyal customer base.

Rather than focusing on single sales, one of the significant shopping trends for 2023 is expected to be a shift to a retail “relationship” between the customer and the brand.

Levey said women enjoyed discovering Cleo Harper and what it could do for them. Starting from an e-commerce base meant Cleo Harper now had relationships with women all over the world.

“We have a great loyal following of customers,” she said.

“Our return customer rate is around 60 to 80 per cent. They come back time after time, which is really exciting for us.

“Of course, we also have people who are discovering us for the first time. But that’s how we continue to grow.

“We’re part of their story, and they’re part of ours.”

Related Posts