Shop Direct’s premium fashion etailer Very Exclusive is launching its menswear offer today and has revealed plans to debut a concession model from October.
It has signed up 25 clothing, footwear and accessories brands for the menswear launch, including Kenzo, Whistles, PS by Paul Smith, Hackett, Reiss, Barbour, Aquascutum and Vivienne Westwood. This will increase to around 35 for spring 17.
Very Exclusive is targeting 26 to 45 year-old men, many of whom are existing customers of Shop Direct’s flagship brand, Very. They will be able to draw on Shop Direct’s credit offer.
Sarah Curran, managing director of Very Exclusive, told Drapers the decision to add menswear was a response to customer demand. “When we launched Very Exclusive [in February 2015] we were always being asked, ‘When are you launching men’s?’,” she explained.
On the relatively modest number of brands signed up for the launch, Curran said: “The men’s market is naturally smaller than women’s. It would make no sense to chase a number to match the number on womenswear; it was about identifying the brands our customer wanted.”
She added that the brand mix has a commercial focus. “We’ve bought into the core lines. Women are more impulsive shoppers, so you can add ‘wow’ pieces; with guys you have to establish a certain amount of trust.”
Curran would not disclose trading figures for Very Exclusive, but said: “In terms of growth it was ahead of target last year and is again this year.”
But she said there were no plans to accelerate its expansion. “I’m not going to do anything that’s not healthy for the business. Our growth will be in line with what we can achieve, not for the sake of it.”
From next month, Very Exclusive will operate concessions, as well as a wholesale model. It will launch with two partners initially. It is keeping the names under wraps, but one will be men’s and women’s wear, and one just womenswear.
Curran explained the concession model would allow brands to display a much broader product range.
“We see this as a huge opportunity,” she said. “At the moment, because it’s a traditional wholesale buy, we have our buying budget and we slice and dice across categories, brands, retail partners. We’re financially constrained to X amount to spend within that season.
“With a concession it’s the retail partner that replenishes the stock, so it’s not constrained by our buying budget. It takes away that cap.”
This will be a first for Shop Direct as a whole. Curran said: “Should it prove to be successful, and we think it will, it’s something we can roll out across the group.”