Patrick Li from KOY Gear in Toronto
Patrick Li created his clothing company KOY Gear with the idea of targeting active travelers. But with borders closed and planes grounded all over the world due to COVID-19, the fashion brand fueled by wanderlust had to quickly reinvent their marketing approach.
“Now is the time to review all your expenses; move your inventory to the garage, cancel the unnecessary subscriptions, cut your spend, and stay lean. As long as you stay above water, there is still hope.” - Patrick Li, owner of KOY Gear.
How do you market travel apparel to people who aren’t allowed to leave home?
That’s been the million-dollar question for Patrick Li, founder of fashion brand KOY Gear, which produces premium clothing designed for travelling and outdoor adventure.
Launched in 2017, Patrick says his business was born out of a desire to combat disposable clothing trends. “I was frustrated with the reliance on fast fashion and admired brands that made quality garments that were made to last,” he explained. “In an effort to reduce fashion waste, I decided to build versatile clothing that is fashionable and functional for everyone.”
When COVID-19 brought the global travel industry to a screeching halt, Patrick knew his brand would need to reinvent their marketing message. “We brand ourselves as a travel apparel company and that’s clearly out of the cards due to current conditions. Instead, we’ve focused our communications around empathy and inspiration for people to stay inside now, so we can all travel the world later.”
While ecommerce has always been a key component of KOY Gear’s business model, the pandemic has amplified that focus. “It means doubling down on ecommerce marketing and taking a data-driven approach to all communications,” he says. “It means making purchases and customer interactions more intimate so they can experience your brand fully without being able to physically touch it.”
He says KOY Gear is now having two-way digital discussions with consumers. By embracing social media as a customer service tool, they’re able to digitally achieve what a retail associate would normally do in-person. It’s a major shift, but Patrick says his entrepreneurially-minded team has stepped up to the challenge.
“Our small crew of five employees and founders have been able to stick together and try our best to get through this hard time,” Patrick told us, adding how grateful they are for the ability to quickly pivot and assume new tasks.
It’s a good thing quality never goes out of style.
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