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Authentic tastes mean retailers should get real

Richard Barrett is managing director and founding partner of Initials Marketing in London.

Richard Barrett

Richard Barrett

Emporium, Jigsaw’s new flagship store on Duke Street in London, is a singular attempt to lure online shoppers back onto the sales floor. There’s little hint of the Jigsaw branding, but spades of the once unique personality that made its name. It’s also an intuitive realisation from the retailer that we’re now expecting more of everything - craft, experience and, just as importantly, personalisation.

The trend has always been evident in luxe - take the tale bespoke tailor Kathryn Sargent tells, of a call from a client who was at Harry’s Bar in Venice. “Kathryn, my suit’s not working - I can’t reach my wine glass.” For a client able to invest upwards of £3,500 in a bespoke suit, part of the package is being able to call your ‘cutter’ wherever and whenever they’re needed.

The discerning shopper also expects more than today’s average retail environment delivers. More of us are looking for products we can tailor or select based on provenance. Research has found that 63% of UK adults are seeking or considering ‘craft’ products, and there are plenty of examples to prove the point. When LVMH opened its workshops, 120,000 individuals visited its craftsmen in two days. The Left Shoe Company provides digital foot-scanning that allows customers to order directly from a workshop in Finland. The Ralph Lauren Beaux Arts mansion on Madison Avenue in the US provides a made-to-measure service for female clients to create their own clothing.

A return to desiring authenticity is bringing back mystery and excitement to the mass-produced, sweatshop world where most retail products come from. More of us are demanding personalisation, ironically driven by digital.

People are increasingly looking for something real, and retailers are trying to differentiate. It presents a true opportunity for retailers to create environments where the consumer goes to get the most interesting products. Jigsaw’s concept store, with its focus on the ‘pleasures of idling’ and a collection mentality, is a step very much in the right direction.

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