What is it about Swedish brands that seem almost in spite of themselves to dream up names with comedic undertones?
Address 29 D’Arblay Street, London W1F
Opened May 2013
Total floor space 1,075 sq ft
Maybe it started with Ikea and all those improbably named products, but now the field of play appears to have extended into clothing.
With Nudie Jeans, you’d probably have to think quite hard to come up with a name that is both innocent and knowing in the same moment, and now the Gothenburg-based brand has opened its first UK store, deep in the heart of Soho. Not only will it sell new jeans, but it will take pre-owned pairs of Nudie jeans and repair them for free or take them from the owner in exchange for a 20% reduction on the price of a new pair. The repossessed jeans are repaired and sold as vintage. This is semi-altruistic retailing in action … at a price.
01 VISUAL MERCHANDISING
This is a two-floor store, ground and basement that is linked in feel, but differing quite a lot in terms of merchandising. The ground floor has jeans displayed on the wall and associated merchandise placed on runner rails or on rails suspended from the ceiling.
Stock density is quite low but leaves room for the workshop side of things. Downstairs, it’s all about the jeans wall, which is behind the service counter. Nudie Jeans is a unisex proposition and no distinction is made between the genders as far as display is concerned. Instead, the shopper is presented with a workmanlike back-to-basics jean emporium, which does succeed in putting you in the mood for buying a pair of denims.
Beaten-up interiors with reclaimed-looking wood floors and distressed concrete walls are something of a Soho cliché these days. Nudie, however, has taken this design trope and used it to good effect - there is a simplicity that says Scandi. And as this is also, in theory, a workshop intent on restoring used pairs of Nudies back into service, the ground floor has a pair of sewing machines ready to bring things back to wearable condition once more.
You have to like the openness of the fluent English-speaking, Stockholm-originating person who seemed to be in charge on the day of visiting - helpful, open and totally prepared to tell you all that you might wish to know about the brand. This may be a brand that deals at the more premium end of the denim market, but it is hard not to be persuaded by the relaxed people who work in the shop and for whom nothing seems to be too much trouble.
For the most part, this store really is about selling jeans and the entry priceis around £89 and heading upwards to more than £200, depending on the fabric and which of the 10 fits you go with. You have to admire Nudie for its choice of names too with Grim Tim, Slim Jim and Sharp Bengt all being fits and providing a taste of the idiosyncratic nature of the brand.This is not a flash brand, however, catering instead
to the tastefully understated and relatively well-heeled denim cognoscenti.
Levi’s, Acne, Cheap Monday, Diesel and on and on and on. There is a lot of competition in London’s denim market at all price points and the key to success is being sufficiently differentiated from the other brands in terms of both the brand’s image and the environment from which the product is sold. Here Nudie Jeans comes somewhat under fire as both store and product do look a little like other jeans stores around the capital - and this is not a brand that is going to sell on price. Nonetheless, it will have its devotees
and they are likely to spring to its defence.
06 VERDICT: Ideal for the Nudie fans
It’s hard not to wonder if we have a surfeit of jeans from which to select. That said, this is a welcome addition to Soho, principally for the brand’s democratic nature and warm welcome. The thing about denim brands is that they blow hot and cold - and there are few perennials that possess the cool factor. Nudie Jeans has been stocked around London for some time, but whether a standalone shop will be enough to persuade denim hunters that this is one to seek out is a moot point. A good-looking store, which may be enough in edgy Soho.