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21 Apr

Baobab Sets Global Expansion on Back of Stellar Growth

At the top of March, Bogota’s San Francisco Palace full of the local fashion community as guests arrived to see the sustainable swimwear and resortwear brand Baobab unveil its spring 2023 collection, titled “La Danza” (The Dance).

Following a movie, which was based on a love story set in Rio de Janeiro within the ’70s, the stage offered a live scenography where dance and music took over the audience, a celebration not only of the brand new collection but of the expansion the brand has seen during the last two years.  

Colombian-born designer Isabella Espinosa launched Baobab in 2015 with the mission of creating a positive mark through the lens of fabric innovation and environmental responsibility. Since then the brand’s ongoing commitment to a sustainable approach is referenced not only within the act of recycling fishing nets and turning plastic bottles into fabrics or the reduction of textile waste, but in addition in a donation and restoration program. As much as 2022, Baobab managed to plant 8,000 trees and help restore 5,380 square feet of coral reefs in San Andres Island, Colombia, in alliance with the Corales de Paz Organization. 

A glance from Baobab’s spring 2023 collection. Photo by Felipe Cuartas

Baobab’s concentrate on sustainability, its successful collections and expansion of international distribution aren’t the one reasons the brand is a subject of conversation lately. Baobab’s decision to team with Malagon Group — the style consulting agency founded in 2018 by Colombian-born Camila Malagon — in August 2020 can also be an element, helping drive the brand’s 720 percent annual growth in each 2021 and in 2022. In consequence, annual revenues went from $250,000 in 2020 to $5 million in 2022. 

Along with its ability to take a custom approach to design, sales, communications, marketing, and consulting with a team over Latin America, the U.S. and Europe, Malagon Group is best known for offering emerging brands a roadmap for standing out in a crowded scenario, and constructing successful relationships with key U.S. retailers while attempting to do the identical with those in Europe.

Before kicking off their partnership, Baobab was only selling to Victoria’s Secret, whereas Camila Malagon was already deep within the resortwear business and had a robust relationship with U.S. retailers due to her previous work experience in Recent York.

“On the time, I didn’t have a brand that appealed to a younger audience the best way Baobab did, and I knew that with some guidance and proper introduction into the U.S. market, I could get them within the stores. Isabella stood out to me as she gave the impression to be highly committed and motivated from the start, she’s a brilliant hard-working person,” Malagon said. 

“My initial strategy was to present Baobab a latest and fresh color palette, and to concentrate on resortwear and ready-to-wear. I knew that the brand would sell well at stores like Revolve and Intermix, so those were the 2 that we targeted from the beginning. To this date those are our biggest clients. Also, I worked with our contacts to speak Baobab’s strong sustainability efforts and ensure that they were being seen not only from key players within the industry but in addition their direct customers,” she added.  

Establishing partnerships with Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Intermix, LuisaViaRoma and Revolve was only certainly one of the brand’s major steps. There also were its fashion show in Paris last June, its resort presentation in Dubai last November and its recent launch of the second exclusive bridal collection for Saks. 

Besides Colombia and the U.S., the firm is also present in markets resembling Costa Rica, Dubai, Egypt, Honduras, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Riyadh, Senegal, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela, amongst others.

The label has its own flagship in Bogota and in February it decided to open a second store in Cartagena de Indias. Regarding the latter opening, the brand experienced criticism as native women, higher often called palenqueras, were involved within the event as an “ornament,” in keeping with a part of its audience and ILEX, a racial justice organization. Baobab released a video through which Espinosa apologized and presented her plan of motion with a view to avoid any damage in the long run. 

Within the short term, major decisions will include recognizing and declaring the socio-environmental implications which may be at stake within the hands of the sustainability and human resources departments. Baobab also will conduct sessions with experts on inter-ethnic issues to reflect on its role as a brand, as a team and as human beings in Afro-inclusion, offering an area for face-to-face or virtual dialogue with stakeholders who can construct the social parameters to be considered on future occasions, and to co-create an motion of reparation for the Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal and Palenquero population (NARP) that recognizes their voices.

Camila Malagon summed up the important thing efforts for his or her accomplishments: “The major strategy has been to attain continued and sustainable growth with the prevailing retailers we work with. Along with this, Baobab has been diversifying their collections from being swimwear and resortwear, and now creating bridal exclusives for Saks Fifth Avenue. The brand is now doing fall, which opens the door to tons more retailers and opportunities to sell all yr around. In 2021, we began to hunt down more European stores with showrooms and markets in London and now Baobab has different reps around the globe on the lookout for growth opportunities specifically for them.”

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