Australia’s fashion powerhouse went global by going local

In 2014, Alex McBride, a rising star in Australian property development, left his job in the pursuit of something more. He wanted to establish a brand that carried with it a weight.

McBride chose watches. As he had learned from his grandfather, whose gold TAG Heuer McBride inherited, watches have the power to remind us to relish every moment.

Alongside friend Gretta van Riel, McBride co-founded The 5TH, a fashion and accessory brand that’s become a standout among the growing number of Australian companies partnering with Shopify Plus.

By growing and then leveraging more than 700,000 social media followers into a global — yet local — brand, The 5TH sold…

  • $100,000 on its first day of business
  • $1 million in a single day
  • $10 million in its first year of operation

Challenge

Before it opened for business or sold a single product, The 5TH was already a success.

Through a careful brand message – “Time Well Spent” – co-founders McBride and van Riel had connected with a significant audience on social media. 70,000 followers flocked to its company Instagram account, finding comfort and inspiration in the idea that life should be slowed down and cherished more.

On Dec. 5, 2014, The 5TH finally began selling its products: classic watches with a clean, elegant finish. What happened next was a rush – more than $100,000 in orders on its first day in business, a complete inventory sell-out.

It was clear The 5TH was going to be a hit, but how would this Aussie company leverage its brand into worldwide commerce success?

Alex McBride, co-founder of The 5TH

“We were a business that was born inside the matrix of Instagram, and we were global from day one. We shipped globally from Melbourne, but we had to connect better with our international audiences.”

Alex McBrideco-founder of The 5TH

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Solution

A laptop computer showing The 5TH’s website.

The 5TH, which partnered with Shopify Plus from its very beginning, took a local approach to going global. Over its first year-plus in business, the brand recognized the markets it was connecting best with and set out to serve them more directly.

Instead of an Australia-only storefront, what resulted was four total Shopify Plus stores to better engage shoppers where The 5TH was doing the most business – Australia, the U.S., U.K., and E.U.

“Shopify’s been great in allowing us to talk to a global audience and engage with a global audience, and also manage that really seamlessly on the backend.”

Alex McBrideco-founder of The 5TH

Results

In its first year of business, The 5TH made $10 million in sales – $1 million of which was pulled in on one day alone.

And yet, a funny thing happened. As The 5TH grew outward across the world, it continued to keep its focus inward, on being personal, on reaching its customers in an intimate way.

Worldwide success afforded The 5TH the freedom to express itself in person, through pop-up shops it opened in New York City and elsewhere. With Shopify Plus and its technology as partners, the shops were a hit.

“When we decided we wanted to do a pop-up shop in New York, we spoke to Shopify. And they helped us out with a point-of-sale technology, and we were able to just do that so seamlessly. And that’s really what we need to do as a business. We need to move quickly, and we need to be agile, and we need trusted partners around us that can help us do that.”

Alex McBrideco-founder of The 5TH
The 5TH retail store display.

At its heart, these special retail experiences became the IRL expression of what was so important for The 5TH to do – go global, but stay local, whether online or off.

“We set up this store to really communicate what our brand was about and what we stood for. That’s just allowed us to engage with a new audience that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.”

Alex McBrideco-founder of The 5TH

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Previous platform
Born on Shopify Plus
Industry
Fashion and apparel
Use case
Global ecommerce, Pop-up shop, POS

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