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Tom Summerfield

The Togs + Clogs co-owner tells Graeme Moran how the menswear etailer’s different approach is keeping customers happy.

Tell us about your menswear etailer Togs + Clogs. When and why did you launch it?

We launched Togs + Clogs in September 2011 having realised there was a lack of menswear stores offering more of a lifestyle approach. I think people rely too much on their brands to bring in customers so we’re taking a more rounded approach to people’s lifestyle requirements, doing things a little differently and with a smile on our faces - a lot of people take themselves a bit too seriously these days…

What sets it apart?

An appreciation for other areas of interest. We sell things like homewares and vintage bicycles, and it’s an area we continue to grow, with an art section due to launch.

What are your biggest challenges?

The most demanding part is maintaining a high level of customer service with a small team. We have some great guys but while the business grows it’s a challenge to keep on top of everything.

And the most exciting?

Seeing regular customers return is very satisfying.

How does being an agent as part of Northern Lights Agency help?

The agency enables us to have close contact with the industry on the other side of the fence. All our retailers know we have the store though, so we can’t ask sneaky questions even if we’d like to!

What has sold best so far this season?

Footwear has been strong with Grenson, New Balance and Saucony all performing well early on. Clothing-wise Brooklyn We Go Hard, Anerkjendt and Carhartt have stood out so far.

How do you source brands?

For me the best way to find new brands is still at shows like Seek and Capsule. You can steal a march on the UK buyers that don’t make that trip. In this country Jacket Required is brilliant but obviously you’re open to wider competition as the brands are on British buyers’ doorstep. Relationships are important however, and working with the leading agencies you’re always likely to have access to the more sought-after brands.

Are trade shows still relevant?

Trade shows are only as important as you make them. We deal with a lot of stores on the agency side and I’d say there is a general correlation between the guys who regularly attend the shows and those who have strong businesses. It’s difficult to keep a proper eye on things without doing the rounds and we need to support trade shows even in tough times.

Where do you shop?

I wouldn’t say I do much shopping these days as I tend to kit myself out from the website. In fact I should probably try and clear my tab soon…

If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?

The groundsman at Oldham Athletic.

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