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Exclusive: Austin Reed reveals new direction

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group-owned Austin Reed is going back to its “heritage roots” from spring 20.

The brand has lowered retail prices by 20% on average, and prices now range from £60 for a shirt to £500 for a suit. It has redesigned the collections to make them more contemporary to appeal to more “youthful, quality-conscious, aspirational customers”. The core customer is currently over the age of 40. 

As part of the repositioning, Austin Reed relaunched its website at the end of last year and introduced more casual products for autumn 19, including a range of smart knitwear, vests and soft jackets. It also added a “super-premium”, made-to-measure offering, which sells suits for an average price of £2,500. 

The retailer will not partake in Black Friday and pre-Christmas Sales and will offer just two Sales at the end of each season. It will also launch pop-ups in key metropolitan centres, such as Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester, over the coming year. 

Austin Reed is currently sold in 49 concessions, and is also sold via its own website and recently on menswear personal-styling website Thread. It does not have any standalone stores yet, but shops are “very much on [its] roadmap”.

Edinburgh Woolen Mill Group bought the Austin Reed name and its stock in May 2016, after the brand went into administration the previous month.

A spokesman said: “These stores need to be launched at the right time and in the right location. It would not be right to roll out 15 or 20 stores at one time. Austin Reed is a luxury heritage brand and we want to be in the finest department stores at the right locations, and if we cannot find an appropriate department store to carry the brand, we will then look to launch a standalone store that could deliver a good-quality service to that customer and location.”

EWM is gearing up to open a flagship and head office in London’s Marylebone. The group is designing and refitting the store to launch in 2020 under the Jaeger fascia, but it will retail a blend of the company’s heritage brands, including Viyella and Austin Reed.

Liza Canneford, product director at Jaeger and Austin Reed, told Drapers: “Philip Day has been the driving force behind the strategic turnaround of both Austin Reed and Jaeger. He has steered the team on design, fabrication, pricing strategy, supply chain and marketing, and has been able to draw on his deep knowledge of the British luxury fashion market. In many ways, this has been a return to Philip’s heritage of working with luxury British brands.

“Our incredible team are constantly bringing creative ideas to the table and challenging each other to deliver to the finest-quality standard for our brands in terms of the quality of materials, beautiful design, high levels of manufacture and excellent fabrication.”

Lauren Day, retail director at Jaeger and Austin Reed, said: “As part of our repositioning, one of the first things that we looked at was our pricing architecture.

“We knew our target market for Austin Reed and Jaeger very well, so we looked at our retail prices and we matched the two. That meant, ultimately, that we reduced prices across the board by an average of 20 per cent, encouraging customers to pay full price for our high-quality garments throughout the year because they recognised the products were both great value and quality – and delivered what they were looking for.”






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