Homegrown fashion label M)phosis (pronounced ’emphasis’) made surprising headlines back in 2015 when it announced that it’s shutting all its stores in Singapore.
Beyond Singapore, its other outlets in the region – Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia – which totals to over 10 stores, have closed as well.
Only its stores in China were still operational, according to the latest report.
Hensley Teh, the then-director of M)phosis, told The Straits Times that the company were suffering from a “severe cash flow situation”.
They had to forcibly pull the plug since they couldn’t sustain the business, as well as retrench all its employees working at the affected outlets.
Once A Shining Star In S’pore
Its financial setback was unfortunate, considering that they were once one of Singapore’s most successful brands.
In its heyday, the brand had over 30 outlets spread across 11 countries.
The brand first started in 1994, and in a span of four years, it had expanded overseas with four stores in Jakarta and another two in Kuala Lumpur.
In 2009, it opened its first boutique in China, before expanding its footprint to Dubai, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.
The Dubai, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong stores shut down several years later, though the reason of its closure is still unclear.
M)phosis Makes A Comeback
M)phosis is set to return to its former glory days with the re-opening of Century Square mall on June 6.
After the M)phosis trademark expired last year, the brand was bought over by local apparel retailer Decks, which owns Surfers Paradise and Island Shop, among other brands.
“It used to be one of the most successful brands and they (still) have a following here, as well as overseas … With our resources and experience in handling brands, we think we can make it even better than in the past,” Kelvyn Chee, Decks managing director, confidently told The Straits Times.
He added that he will retain about “60 per cent” of the old style, but will also introduce new colours and designs.
According to Kelvyn, he wants to “keep the old fans, but also cultivate new followers”.
But Hensley is worried that their old customers would mistake this rebranding exercise as part of their (the original company) effort.
“We are concerned because this is not done by us… We built up 20 years of goodwill and people assume it is us coming back – it’s misleading,” he said.
He emphasised that the new M)phosis label is unrelated to the founding company and its members.
In fact, the only reason why the M)phosis trademark could not be renewed is because the original company is still dormant.
M)phosis To Expand And Launch An E-commerce Store
As part of the refreshed branding, the M)phosis store will be more tech-savvy as Decks looks at installing a smart fitting room later this year.
It will have mirrors with a touch screen display that will, for one, suggest complementary products to the customer and allow them to select specific items so store assistants can easily pass these to them in the room.
M)phosis will also launch an e-commerce store next month, followed by another outlet in the central area and another two to three in Malaysia by the end of this year.
These plans sound rather ambitious, given that the brand is freshly dipping its toes back in the water after two long years of absence.
While I bet that there are some Singaporeans who are excited about the brand’s return, the new management have to note that bringing back the name alone is not enough.
If they come in with the same operating model, they are bound to fail (again).
The solution? Adapt, innovate, and repeat. Going digital is one way forward.
Featured Image: ELLE Singapore