Raw denim for real characters – that’s what it’s all about at cultizm.com. The menswear online shop was founded by Dejan Milenkovic after quitting his job as a stock market agent. He was always into fashion, looking for new trends and the (hi)stories behind a brand. With cultizm.com, Milenkovic fulfilled himself a dream. With its headquarters in Münster, Germany, the shop has quickly established itself as a well-known international player within its niche. Here, Dejan Milenkovic talks about his concept and plans for the shop, the five products he couldn’t live without right now and why he added French underwear brand Hemen as well as the prestigious German company Brütting Diamond-Brand to his assortment.
Why did you start your shop? What were your motivation and your professional background?
The end was somehow the beginning. I worked at the stock market as an agent. I was in charge of an account and was allocated a number of shares. When the financial bubble was threatened to blow up, I knew that I had and also wanted to change something. In addition, personal influences and an inner rethinking led me to sell my literature about stock exchanges online. I was very surprised about the high demand and how fast the products were selling over a suitable platform. That’s why I drew a line under my agent career and sold everything which was related to my business past.
I always had a thing for fashion. I look for new trends, I’m interested in brands and their histories and love the interaction with the people behind the brands. Now the thing is, for example, Adidas or Nudie Jeans co. are not just brands for me – they’re friends. I always had contact to that métier, but at this changing point, I at first recognized that. Furthermore, I had the first points of contact through my family, more explicitly, my father. We even visited manufacturing facilities in Turkey back then. There are no coincidences in life.
What is important for you in terms of the shop design, usability and product presentation?
It just needs to fit. It’s not only a business, it’s also a feeling. We worked on our current shop system for many years. Now that we reached our limits Cultizm is ready to take the next big step with its employees. The design of the shop is not only a hallmark because of its long durability. We’re global leaders in the niche sector “raw denim” and made our mark with Cultizm. The logo, font, order of the elements, all of that has led to a compound puzzle which stands for itself today.
Of course, we know the customer nowadays has different desires than 3-5 years ago. First of all, this means a well-thought-through, tidy - basically a clean look where nothing distracts you from the products. Our curated products take center stage in the shop as well as the customer’s perspective. In addition, it is important to us to act on the principle “structure follows strategy”. Following this credo in usability is “mobile first”. We want to give the modern online shopper an easy mobile access to our shop. Furthermore, our products do really need explanation. That’s why our task is to display them as transparent and comprehensive as we can and explain them in more detail. So we have a lot of work ahead.
What are the anchor brands? Which brands have you recently added to the assortment?
Here are our Top 5: Nudie Jeans, A.P.C., Merz B. Schwanen, Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Bleu de Chauffe.
We’re always on the hunt for anything special. Our latest findings and thoughts have led to us adding the French underwear brand Hemen as well as the prestigious German company Bütting to our assortment.
What are 5 products you couldn’t live without right now?
Simple: Raw Selvedge Denim
White V-Neck Tee
Adidas NMD or Red Wing Shoes Iron Ranger
Rapha Track Top
What are the bestsellers?
I can’t really answer that question because what’s in high demand is not only in our hands. Many influences like trends, styles and the media play a big role. One day it can be a special sneaker and tomorrow a jeans with a special selvage edge. One little example: Some time ago there was a brand documentation called “Grandpas vest goes cult” on TV. It was about Merz B. Schwanen. After that our whole stock was sold out and the phone just kept on ringing.
And what are the most promising newcomers of the year?
That question is hard to answer as well. What exactly is a newcomer in the fashion segment? If I use the age of the company as a key indicator, I would say brands such as Rogue Territory and 3sixteen (both from the US) enjoy great popularity in the raw denim community. Those young companies catch the feeling of the people with their style and thrill the audience with new creations and variety. Nevertheless, the conditions can change quickly. Alpha Industries, for example, is an interesting project at the moment. The bomber jacket is the symbol of streetwear right now. The image change and smart marketing have led to Alpha gaining new momentum.
Which fairs do you visit? Or do you only order at showrooms? Where do you inform yourself about trends?
At the beginning of the year, we visit trade shows regularly. This is important to us as we can keep close contact with our counterparts and friends. Time is limited and unfortunately and apart from work, it is difficult to spend time together. We are regular guests at Pitti Uomo and Seek. In addition, we visit brands or get visited quite often. That’s what makes Cultizm and its social environment so special. Business relations are good, friends are better.
Did your shop’s sales increase or decrease over the last year? To what do you attribute your gain or loss in sales?
It can’t be denied that times are getting harder. A certain restlessness and volatility prevail the market but at Cultizm, we are well prepared for that.
Is it an option to open a brick-and-mortar store as well?
Those considerations float around from time to time. Nevertheless, we have so many different projects going on right now that this project receives less priority. I want to mention here that a decision like that is dependent on several factors which can not necessarily be influenced. Multi-channel-management is only one challenge we have to face in this regard.
What’s your typical customer?
Our typical customer knows about fashion (laughs). If I should describe the typical customer, he’s between 25-50 years old, incredibly trend-conscious, digital native or immigrant, well-informed and belongs to the category “innovators” or “early adaptors”.
Is there a kind of model shop for you? Some shop (worldwide), which inspires you?
First and foremost, we do our thing. But we also get inspired. Which technological innovations are there? Benchmark or best practice always belong to a reasonable evaluation phase. We always scrutinize ourselves – what goes right and what goes wrong? Where can we change something and take action? Of course, research is also part of this process. We think outside of the box a lot. Shops from other branches are especially interesting. For example, we recently discovered an award-winning shop in the wine retailing segment. It belonged to the category “hidden champions” – a very special gem. That’s how we get inspired – not only by fashion retailers.
What is the biggest challenge for e-commerce right now?
In the field of online-pure-player/e-commerce, new challenges have to be faced all the time – all of us in the online segment have to. The decreasing customer loyalty is an issue and one needs to ask oneself: how can an online retailer build more trust? How can it act more transparently?
Also, the availability of a website via mobile devices is still one of the biggest challenges. Is it enough to have only an optimized webshop or does one need to think one step further?
Delivery times also become challenging as big e-retailers’ delivery times get shorter and shorter. It’s our task to find logistic solutions in cooperation with our partners to meet the customer’s expectations. SEO, the findability via search engines, is becoming a major competitive advantage. We aim to get involved in that and further collect expertise. You see, demand is throughout. We never stand still. This belongs to our raw spirit (laughs).
Phone: 0049 251 270 768 90