Peer Perspective: Jelle Van Der Zwet, OppoSuits
Director and co-founder, OppoSuits
Jelle Van Der Zwet and his friends were seeking festive garb to wear during the 2010 World Cup, but the response they got quickly hatched an idea — OppoSuits. Their colorful, coordinated ensembles wear and feel like everyday suits, but they look like anything but.
Where did the idea for OppoSuits come from?
The idea came about when one of my business partners, Jasper Castelein, and I were traveling in Vietnam where we had some outrageous suits tailor-made for us. It included a bright orange suit, which I wore during the World Cup in 2010 and had so much attention amongst Dutch soccer fans that we launched a sophisticated business model around this idea. Good quality, colorful and printed suits in standard suit sizes affordable to young and old and accessible around the world. We started the business in 2012 and five years later we distribute our product through Distribution Centers in U.S., Canada, U.K., Europe, Australia and Asia and supply the biggest retailers around the globe.
What kind of reception have you received from American buyers?
Our very first show was the Halloween and Party Expo in Houston in 2014 and it was an instant hit. We had the smallest booth at the back of the show, but we were probably the busiest booth! We launched at a perfect moment with many of the independents as well as majors buying into the product and supporting the OppoSuits concept. It was a tough decision, but being ahead of more knock-off products, we launched an economy line branded Suitmeister, which again was received very well by American buyers and enables us to sell this category into a different set of retailers.
What’s been the most important thing you’ve learned since starting the business?
That in today’s day and age, a new concept/brand can really expand very quickly around the world with the right determination, team of people and obviously a good idea. Today’s technology, social media, culture and distribution opportunities allow businesses to reach a worldwide audience — it’s something that older generations probably would have dreamt of. We learned to capitalize on this before a competitor or knock-off would do so. We have seen many competitors come and go and, if anything, it keeps us sharp to make sure we keep owning the category.