The Rise of DISSH 

How DISSH Became Australia’s Most Adored Capsule Wardrobe Brand: The Greatest Fashion Comeback Story of a Generation.

By Elena Cameron

11th April 2024

The Rise of DISSH

Some might say (I might say) that DISSH is Australia’s most widely adored fashion brand, but that wasn’t always the case. 

Let’s rewind right back to the early-noughties, specifically, 2001. Apple released the iPod, Lizzie Mcquire premiered on TV, Sex and the City won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and the world was introduced to DISSH for the very first time. 

Founded by Maree Henry, DISSH opened their first retail store on the Gold Coast in 2001. Back then, the brand was known for its bright colours and vibrant patterns with over-stacked racks stocked with collections from other brands, purchased and worn on weekends by Gold Coast teenagers with allowances to burn. It’s a far cry from the DISSH of today – you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t quite picture it. 

DISSH store pre rebrand.

Introducing Lucy Henry-Hicks – the daughter of Maree, and DISSH’s current CEO and creative director. Lucy grew up with two parents who ran retail businesses in the fashion industry, working from 10 years old to earn $5 an hour building hangers in back rooms. 

Lucy started working at DISSH right after high school in 2006, back when there was just one store. She continued to work in the family business throughout university, studying business management and growing the brand with her mum over many years. Lucy introduced and pioneered the transition to e-commerce, whilst Maree continued to manage DISSH’s brick-and-mortar presence. As the world moved towards online shopping, the pair’s dynamic shifted, the partnership ended and Lucy went on to take the lead role as creative director and CEO of DISSH. 

DISSH CEO – Lucy Henry-Hicks.

“As with any partnership, there comes a time to part ways. I had always planned to start a brand of my own and when the time came in 2019, I was presented with the opportunity to start again or build on what we had already co-created. Strategically, I made the decision to transition the existing DISSH brand to align with my vision and the gap I saw in the market.”

Recognising that DISSH needed full creative control over their product, Lucy stripped everything back. Multi-brand retail was out, and from this point on, DISSH would design everything in-house. Where it was once colourful and loud, it became tonal and understated. The brand became synonymous with effortless fashion, quiet luxury and undisputed elegance at an approachable price point. The term ‘clean girl’ comes to mind when describing DISSH’s audience. 

DISSH store post rebrand

Since Lucy took on her role of creative director, the brand has been on the rise, tripling its revenue between 2019 and 2022. Last financial year, the brand raked in AU$62 million. This year, it’s set to hit AU$98 million. Along with its refreshed brand feel and look, DISSH now has 7 boutiques across Australia, a social media following that other brands could never, and is gearing up to embark on a US expansion following an acquisition of AU$90 million investment from retail billionaire Brett Blundy, through his private investment group BBRC. 

So how has Lucy done it and how can you emulate the same success whether you’re looking to rebrand, or launch a new business? 

The strategies that went into the rise of DISSH: 

1. Clearly defined target audience

DISSH defined the specific customer archetypes and personas they wanted to pursue, and went after them with force. They picked their lane and won the race by making it abundantly obvious who their customer was, what value they added to their lives and built a brand that communicated this message in everything they did. Their social media platforms show us who they want their customer to be and  hashtags like #DisshHaul and #DisshUnboxing show us who their customers are (spoiler alert – they’re the same). 

Defining who your customer is allows you to craft a communication strategy that resonates with them and builds meaningful connections and relationships with your target audience. Identifying how your customer speaks, where and how they shop and what matters to them are good places to start. But the brands that truly know their customers know the intimate details that make them, them. What’s their favourite restaurant? What song gets them on the dance-floor? Where are they going for their honeymoon? What are they wearing to their best friends 30th? The list goes on.

2. Distinct branding and positioning

The DISSH of today is a far cry from those colourful, over-stacked clothes racks with red for-sale signs on top of them. The rebrand is unmissable in every element of the business, but it’s perhaps most obvious when you walk into any brick-and-mortar store. Despite the popularity and craze of the brand, the in-store experience is somehow the antidote to it. The perfectly designed and styled interiors and stunning visual merchandising make a trip to any DISSH store a peaceful and relaxing experience.

Lucy has affirmed that online is DISSH’s primary sales channel and “the reason for opening stores will always be around customer experience and brand positioning.” Brand positioning is at the forefront of every expansion decision DISSH makes, particularly when it comes to expanding into new markets. Their preference for a direct to consumer, first online and then brick and mortar approach to growth, rather than pursuing wholesale opportunities means they can maintain creative control, and not risk being resigned on sales racks, ultimately retaining brand equity in every new market they pursue.   

3. Trailblazing social media marketing
In the most saturated market in the world, DISSH has garnered a social media presence that rivals some of the biggest fashion brands across the globe. They didn’t just leverage social media, they used it to create unmissable waves that rippled all the way to Hollywood. In May 2022, supermodel, actress and author Emily Ratajkowski was spotted wearing a AU$69.99 black knit tank from DISSH at the airport. Within hours, the top had sold out, images of her in it ran rampant on social media and the brand was on the radar of millions.

Emily Ratajkowski wearing DISSH black knit top which sold out within hours

By embracing platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok, DISSH crafted a multi-faceted social media strategy that captivated audiences and ignited a loyal following. By leveraging the power of social media influencers, DISSH amplified its brand message and reached new audiences; seemingly generating free and authentic user generated content that further propelled the brand forward. Hashtags #DisshHaul and #DisshTryOn has 19.5 million and 6 million views respectively.

Beyond UGC and influencer marketing, DISSH’s social ad spend is roughly 10% of sales, with the brand continuing to scale up ad spend at the same rate as the brand growth, showcasing their commitment to continue leveraging the power of both organic and paid advertising. 

Want to have the DISSH effect?

In a world where the fashion landscape is ever-evolving, DISSH’s success proves that with a clear brand identity, a unique messaging strategy, and a commitment to creating exceptional experiences, any fashion brand can carve its own path to becoming an authority. 

Our multidisciplinary approach to illustrious brand positioning and messaging strategy is designed for brands who want to be more than just another option. From developing your unique selling proposition, to creating your brand’s tone of voice and executing it across all mediums, our full service offering combines research, strategy and creative instinct to define your brand’s point of excellence and convey it in a memorable way that demands to be felt. 

Let’s chat. 


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