Drapers meets Chris Terry after the opening of his new contemporary menswear and lifestyle independent The Modern Draper, at 1 North Bar Within, in Beverley, East Yorkshire earlier this month.
Why did you want to open your own shop?
I was hugely inspired by one of my first bosses, Richard Creme. I was lucky enough to have worked in his iconic store L’Homme in Manchester during the late eighties, selling brands such as Comme Des Garcons and Jean-Paul Gaultier during the height of the ‘Madchester’ era. I later opened a couple of shops in Hull back in the 1990s. In my twenties, I owned Evolution Clothing, which sold brands such as Michiko Koshino, Duffer of St George and John Richmond. In my twenties, I owned Evolution Clothing, which sold brands such as Moschino and John Richmond. I later owned Space Clothing, which was one of the early streetwear stores, stocking old school trainers and brands such as Stussy, X-Large and Vans.
After that I worked on the wholesale side of things for a long time. I have also done a fair bit of retail management, and I did stints as a buyer and an independent agent in Brighton. That then led to me being Brand Manager for a womenswear label called Get Cutie, also in Brighton. Most recently, I’ve worked as Senior Account Manager for Original Penguin but I’ve always had a hankering to go back to my roots and open a shop again, but to do it with more experience than I did the first time around.
I had a good stint working in Brighton but another motivation for opening The Modern Draper was that I really wanted to move back up to Yorkshire. We’ve aimed to merge contemporary products with old-fashioned customer service.
What does “old fashioned customer service” involve?
We offer a complimentary beer or coffee to our customers, we hand deliver some items to customers’ doors and we generally go that extra mile. We also have an alteration service and a premium denim hemming service. We have to send clothes out for the denim service, but the alterations are done on authentic Union chain stitch machines.
I wouldn’t say that customer service is entirely lacking on the high street, but the stores that go the extra mile really stand out. That’s why I personally prefer shopping through independents, because you get that one-to-one service.
Why open a store in Hull?
There is a lot of attention on Hull at the moment, after it was named UK City of Culture 2017. The area we are based in, Beverley, is a buzzing, busy market town with a lot of history. It is mainly made up of independents and I wanted The Modern Draper to be a collaborative venture. Our complimentary coffee is from local company The Blending Room, and the beer is from local micro-brewery Atom Beers.
There is a very neighbourly feel to the area and there is no one who is in direct competition with us, which is good. Since our opening a few days ago, someone from almost every other independent retailer has been in to say hello and wish us luck.
Who do you think your store appeals to?
The store is not aimed at just one age group. I never wanted it to be purely about young fashion, I wanted it to be a mix of contemporary and classic brands that appeal to all ages.
The oldest customer on our opening day was 93 – he bought a pair of boat shoes for sailing
We only opened a few days ago, but so far we have had a fantastic variation in age range. The oldest customer on our opening day was 93 years old – he bought a pair of boat shoes for sailing. We also had a large amount of young guys who were interested in products like the Carharrt shirts (£65).
How have you catered for a diverse age range of customers?
We have beautiful contemporary brands that a slightly older gentleman will understand and appreciate – for example, Norse Projects and Universal Works,which sit nicely alongside more classic collections. For a younger clientele, we offer a wide range of denim and workwear, plus streetwear from brands such as Wood Wood, Billionaire Boy’s Club, Penfield and Trainerspotter. We have had great success with classic pieces from brands like Sunspel, and a top seller of ours has been Baracuta, specifically the G9 jackets (£289). Portuguese Flannel is a range that has been popular with both younger and older customers, and has sold brilliantly across the board .
What is your stance on sales and competing with the high street?
A lot of what we sell is what I would regard as design classics, as well as our seasonal contemporary lines. I like to think that we will be traditional and have only two sales a year with no mid-season discounting. We are not in a high street [multiple]-dominated area, so we are not trying to directly compete with the high street, price-wise or in any other way.