Founder of the brand Depo
I am from Obninsk, studied in Tarus as an artist. In 1993-1994, when I was 21 years old, the free flow of imports started, and I was one of the first to start importing from abroad and selling jeans to us. Then the majority did not work by profession. In a few years I reached significant volumes in the wholesale trade, but there were many competitors who also carried jeans from Turkey and China. I realized that if I want to be protected, it makes sense to start my production and marketing. I had experience: I oversaw the production of jeans under such brands as Stress, Black Owl in Jakarta. Now no one remembers them, but then they were quite famous brands. In addition, I had retail jeans and youth clothing stores in Siberia, where I donkey after having been a Motor Jeans representative for three years. In general, there was someone and where to sell, which is much more important than money.
The first store I opened in Novosibirsk on the Vokzalnaya Railway in 1998. He gave the name to the brand - Depo. It was a very large room - 400 square meters. The Turks, who ran there shortly before the opening, shouted: "Depot! Depot!" It turned out that this means a "large warehouse."
We started with knitted clothes that were sewn here in Novosibirsk, but Depo was conceived primarily as a jeans brand. It was quite obvious that producing jeans in Russia was futile. Technology remained at the level of the 80s. Most of the imports already came from China. We had a representation there and an understanding of what to do, then only there, because there is equipment and cheap labor. In 1999, we released the first full-fledged collection of jeans. First they placed orders, and three years later they were among the first to open their own factory in southern China, where they began to produce 25,000-30,000 items annually. They invested $ 500,000 in working capital in the opening of the factory. I moved to China for 11 years.
I always designed jeans myself. If you want to be competitive, you have to be eccentric. For 10 years we have released about 1,000 models that are far from the classics. Each season they came up with a collection related to a topic. For example, flights and airspace.
The shops themselves also made unusual. There were skateboards, music, DJs. The first Moscow Depo Jeans store opened in the Izvestia building in 2002. Together with the franchisee, by the mid-2000s, we had more than 60 stores, in the flagship during the periods of discounts there were up to 1,000 sales per day. The promotion was mainly that customers talked about Depo to each other. Our jeans cost an average of 800-1,200 rubles, T-shirts - from 350 rubles.
In the mid-2000s, conditions for investment and production in China began to deteriorate markedly. Labor legislation has changed. The laws were formulated so that the owners became virtually powerless, and the workers were always right. The average salary increased three to four times - for example, a seamstress received $ 180, and began to receive $ 500. At the same time, strangely enough, in China there was a very large shortage of skilled workers. The reason for this, firstly, is the very intensive development of production. And secondly - the rule "one family - one child": most parents try to learn this only child so that he later works in the office.
For our state, there is no light industry. There is oil, sometimes something is heard about heavy, but there is no light
We considered other countries - Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia - but, unfortunately, the technological processes and efficiency that are possible in China turned out to be elusive elsewhere.
In 2006, problems began with customs: Putin announced the fight against smuggling. In itself, this was correct, but in fact, those who officially imported goods suffered, including us. No one received the goods on time - they waited for four months. For our state, there is no light industry. There is oil, sometimes something is heard about the heavy, but not light. Therefore, strong, world-famous brands did not appear. While they settled the issue of customs payments, they rushed in so much that it became uninteresting to continue.
In the same period, the Spanish market Inditex, which owns Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka and other brands, entered the Russian market. They receive such privileges from the Spanish government that it is impossible to compete with them. Then other players came.
So we stopped working for Russia, and the stores sold almost everything. Even during the existence of the Depo brand, we made jeans to order for other manufacturers. Since 2010, we have begun to do just about this. Why order from us? To make good jeans, you need to have some talent similar to a chef. Know how to cook - it turns out, do not know how - no. These are not T-shirts, there are a lot of technological nuances, and you need to have a flair.
By what jeans a person put on, you can find out not only his financial status, but also his commitment to something. Not always expensive jeans are respected. I wear my brand, there are a couple from Japanese brands, Norwegian, a couple of limited edition releases. We came up with another jeans brand - MayDay, but we release them one-time, in series, when there is free power. We sew from expensive materials - for example, from Japanese uncooked organic denim, which is sometimes even done manually. The cost of a pair is on average $ 40-180, each one has an individual code. In Russia, it is almost impossible to buy them - everything we do is sold in Hong Kong.
Do we plan to sew for Russia? Not sure if there is a niche for us. There was, for example, in the 80-90s a surge in the popularity of Russian rock, and now - pop. Perhaps we are also from a special genre that is no longer in demand. Why come up with something if you can go to Bershka and buy red jeans for 700 rubles? In addition, to sell in Russia, you need to freeze funds for four months. With jeans, for example, for $ 10, before the sale, you will have to pay $ 6-7 transport and customs duties and taxes. In China, you don’t have to bother with this. At the same time, 140 million people live in Russia, and 2 billion in China, and an unlimited global market.