You’d have to live under a rock to have not noticed the surging popularity of the onesie: from wobbly stag parties dressed in morph suits, to the all-in-one PJs/slouch gear made popular by cut-price retailer Primark and now flogged in just about every department store on the high street. Now Kigu – the animal onesie costume company – has made history by being crowned the 2012 Smarta 100 Business of the Year.
Kigu was launched in 2009 by eagle-eyed pals Thomas Cohn and Nicholas Harriman who spotted the latest craze of the kigurami (the eponymous Japanese animal onesie) sweeping Tokyo. Thinking on their feet, the duo set up the first company to sell the quirky outfits in the western world and have won an army of celeb fans, including cool kids Lily Allen, Florence Welch and Alex Turner.
The animal-themed onesies – you can relax in front of the box dressed as a frog, a rabbit, or an owl, to name a few – have found plenty of fans among the non-celebrity masses too, enabling the company to double revenues in the last 12 months. No mean feat in turbulent times. Nonetheless, it’s likely the rather large (literally – see pic) £10,000 cheque will come in handy, as Kigu’s launch Down Under is planned for 2013.
Dragons’ Den star and Smarta 100 judge Theo Paphitis said that Kigu’s timing was spot-on. “They’ve got a simple, good quality product that’s caught the mood of the moment, appealing to the kid in all of us. The business owners have used social media and celebrity endorsement to shift impressive units, resulting in record financials that many wouldn’t have thought possible.”
There were other prizes to be had too at the exclusive ceremony held at Inc Club at the O2 Arena in London. Six special awards were presented for the Smarta 100 companies deemed by the judges to be best in certain categories, with peer-to-peer lenders Funding Circle scooping the technology prize, and youth employment agency Livity becoming the worthy winner of the people accolade.