Menswear emporium Six Whiting Street blends contemporary style with a classic gentlemen’s club feel.
Entering the pair of Grade II listed buildings that make up menswear store Six Whiting Street in the picturesque and affluent market town of Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, feels like walking into an exclusive gentlemen’s club.
To the right is a denim library, complete with a billiards table on which branded jeans such as Nudie and Replay and casualwear brands like Boss Orange are elegantly displayed, while to the left is a drawing room, known to staff as the Paul Smith room because it is dedicated to the Paul Smith label and its PS sub-brand. The room has its own quirky prop – a Union Jack-emblazoned Smeg fridge housing refreshments for thirsty shoppers. Both ground floor front rooms in the linked buildings boast period fireplaces.
The store, which was opened in July last year by former Envy buyer Giles Henderson, has been shortlisted for Best New Business in this year’s Drapers Awards. The oldest part of the building dates back to the 16th century, and in renovating it Henderson stumbled across an ancient wall painting on the first floor that has since been authenticated by a local expert and is now covered in glass and on display to customers.
The Atrium is the room at the rear of the ground floor. It is the only modern addition to the building and its glass roof and floor-to-ceiling French windows flood it with light.
Henderson says that when the weather is good the doors, which open onto a walled courtyard, will be opened up and rails put outside. Henderson jokes: “That’s the plan, but due to the weather we didn’t get the chance to do that this summer.” The Atrium houses the shop’s younger collections including Original Penguin, Y3 and Folk, plus the bulk of its casual footwear offer.
Upstairs, past an imposing original oak timber staircase, is formalwear and more grown-up daywear, including a made-to-measure room. Ready-to-wear suiting is laid out in a room that has its own dining table and hosts brands such as Rykiel Homme and Paul Smith Black alongside Boss Black. Other brands on offer here include Nigel Hall and Duchamp shirts and accessories.
Henderson’s background in own-label buying at Envy meant that he was keen to introduce an own label at the store from the outset, and his brand, Giles Emily (Emily is Henderson’s wife), has a suiting, shirting, tie and sock offer and is one of the store’s best-selling brands.
Henderson worked with an interiors agency to plan how the rooms would flow in the building but the interior decoration, store props and furniture are mostly his own work. “I had a pretty good idea of the look I wanted to achieve,” he says. “The shop needs to be a destination store. We are off-pitch on a side street and we need to give people a reason to dwell here, enjoy their time with us and spend their money.”
Six Whiting Street 6 Whiting Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
28:The age of owner Giles Henderson
4,000sq ft: Size of the shop floor at Six Whiting Street
8: Number of changing rooms across two floors