The Dutch menswear chain’s quirky new London store provides a modern showcase for its classic formalwear.
Suit Supply’s choice of location for its debut UK store aims to highlight the menswear retailer’s tailoring credentials. Located in the former Ozwald Boateng shop on Vigo Street in London, just opposite Savile Row, the shop has Reiss and Abercrombie & Fitch as neighbours. This duality sums up the Dutch retailer’s classic approach to formalwear mixed with quirky branding, a combination evident in the new 3,000sq ft store.
Chief executive Fokke de Jong says the message is simple. “The London concept is the same as the international stores,” he says.
“Most suit stores try to look classy with a lot of wood, a bit like a gentleman’s club feel. Our stores are very fresh and light, so it’s clear cut what we sell and do. We tried to use a mixture of cold and warm materials, so we’ve included elements such as a faux-leather cash desk and counters.”
The modern, minimalist concept is swung into stark relief by the bank of retro-look sewing machines, a prominent feature at the front of the store. As well as reinforcing the retailer’s “proper tailor” image and its made-to-measure and bespoke shirt service, they also highlight its customer service-oriented point of difference, with on-the-spot alterations offered in less than 30 minutes. If customers are left waiting for longer than half an hour, they do not have to pay for their alterations.
Above the machines, a vintage-style train station departure board displays the names of customers awaiting alterations with the estimated time of arrival of the tweaked garment. De Jong says: “One of our key points is giving customers good-fitting suits, so we have the tailors at the front.”
The store also has prominent graphics that are regularly refreshed with imagery that is often provocative, such as a shot of a naked girl riding a unicorn.
Ties are folded to create a multi-coloured tile effect along the wall at the back of the ground floor, while rows of shirts offer a similar effect at the front. Suits are located in the basement, and are displayed anonymously in rows on rails with no branding or pricing, only trendy downlighting to highlight the product. Chrome spotlights and strip-lit mirrors feature throughout.
“The lighting is very conspicuous because we want the customers to see how the suit fits all round,” says de Jong. “We have three mirrors so you can stand in the middle to see what you look like from the back.”
Despite its bespoke location, price-wise the retailer is more akin to the aspirational high street brands. “An average off-the-peg suit will cost £199 to £250,” says de Jong.
“The prices are competitive, but we’re not a discount suit shop. We don’t make a big thing about the price. We don’t go on Sale – you know what you’re going to get and you don’t have to wait for a discount to get a good suit. A customer should immediately see what we are about and think: ‘If I can’t get a good-fitting suit here, I can’t get it anywhere.’”
9 Vigo Street, London W1S
3,000sq ft:Trading space at the Vigo Street store
22: Number of Suit Supply shops in Europe
30 mins: Maximum target waiting time for suit alterations