Oliver Brown has seen its best January ever this year, up 30% from last year.
I think what’s interesting about this is the sustained strength of the niche business. There’s lots of doom and gloom on the high street, but if you look at the poorer business models, they were increasingly looking like retail dinosaurs.
We’re a niche retail business with great customer service, an enduring product, and a strong online presence and sales - which are getting stronger. Last year was massive for us, particularly with European and Australian customers looking for classic English formalwear, and that’s what’s interesting - how they are buying into the English branding thing as a whole. Last year, in the run-up to Ascot, we had Australians calling into us for something to wear to Ascot the moment they got off the plane.
I know some of the bigger high street brands are increasingly offering higher-end suits, in great fabrics etc, but what they can’t offer is a great name, knowledgeable staff, bespoke tailoring. Who wants to buy a £1,000 suit from an untrained assistant in a high street store? If you’re going to spend that money then support indie retailers, where you can get the suit, proper fit and expertise.
- Kristian Robson, Owner of men’s tailoring and countrywear indie Oliver Brown in Chelsea, west London