06 December 2017   

5 min read
Heritage brand and family-owned Cue Clothing Co is Australia’s largest local manufacturer of fashion and an icon in the Australian fashion industry, best known for its fashion forward designs that are delivered in-store weekly. Founder of the company Rod Levis talks to us about what it takes to deliver consistent fashion performance over four decades, the benefits of staying local, and shares some of the company’s newest innovations.
Cue is one of the few remaining family-owned women’s fashion labels in Australia and has been in business for 49 years. What is behind the brand’s longevity?

My wife Lynette and I started Cue with a single shop in Sydney’s Strand Arcade in 1968, bringing the London look of Carnaby Street to Sydney. We were one of the few places to shop that reflected the international ‘youthquake’ of the time, and we developed a great Australian following. Trend driven and with weekly deliveries of new styles into store, we expanded across the country and into dedicated Myer stores. First and foremost, we are a design driven company, always looking ahead to what’s new and next. Our initial concept remains in place today.

 

Cue is an iconic Australian fashion label. How does Cue differentiate itself from the competition?

The Cue design team has always been influenced by the world of fashion, music, art and pop culture. Australian women have fun with fashion, a love of colour and print, and are not afraid to experiment – our team love designing for them! Most of our fabrics are sourced from European mills that supply to the world’s best luxury and designer brands. Over the years we’ve developed a strong partnership with them, which enables us to develop the exclusive prints that are a Cue signature.

I’m proud that we are Australia’s largest local manufacturer of women’s fashion, and am dedicated to maintaining my commitment to the local industry. We are accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia as well as working closely with the Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia.

 

As the last major fashion house to still manufacture most of its products in Australia, what drives your decision to stay local?

Manufacturing in Australia has been integral to our business model. It means we can work close to market and experiment with design as we are not locked into the long lead times and minimum orders associated with manufacturing overseas. If my design team has an idea that they want to try we can make 50 units, deliver to store quite quickly, and gauge our customers’ reaction. Some of our most successful styles over the years have started this way, and being local allows us to repeat within season when our customers want more.

 

Cue was one of the first retailers to introduce Afterpay to its customers. How important is being responsive to new technology?

We were the first brand to introduce Afterpay in-store. We were attracted to this innovative concept and were excited to partner with them. It’s been a great success for us, and our customers have embraced the service.

As the digital landscape is evolving at a rapid pace, it’s critical to continue to evolve as new technologies and new ways to shop become available. Following on from the success we’ve had with Afterpay, we have launched Click and Collect and Store to Door services, along with a recent partnership with Borderfree, which opens our online presence to a larger international audience. 


What keeps Cue customers coming back to the brand?

As times change, women’s lives change and fashion and style do too. Together we’ve danced through disco, rocked the power suits of the Eighties, embraced Nineties minimalism and immersed ourselves in Naughties luxury. Now we continue to explore and celebrate what is new and next.

We recently surveyed our Cue Club database and were so pleased to find that the key loyalty drivers are our garment quality and fashion forward design. These attributes are core to the Cue DNA so we were thrilled to hear that the things we hold dear matter most to our customers.

 

How do you think bricks and mortar retailers can ‘lift their game’ to compete with the online shopping revolution?

Personalised service is the key for bricks and mortar retailers in this digital age. The in-store experience needs to be memorable and an expert sales team is critical to any retailer’s success.

While online shopping has become so convenient, nothing beats coming into a store and feeling the quality of luxurious fabrics, seeing intricate design details up close, and trying on many outfit combinations in a warm and friendly environment.

Again the results of our recent Cue Club survey harked to this with a Cue Club Member saying “The girls employed by Cue are fantastic – the in-store experience makes you feel like you are number 1”. Our team strives to ensure each customer feels this way every time they visit a Cue store.

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