56 John Street, Sunderland
Who you need to know
Owner Neil Symington (left)
Eleven sells clothes with a understated sense of purpose. Owner Neil Symington is something of a purist, his love of product eclipsing any gong-clanging marketing or number-crunching accounting.
“I just don’t get out enough,” he chuckles, before waxing lyrical about the seams on a Comme des Garçons shirt he once owned.
“We just do what we like. We wouldn’t ape any other store in any other town. We buy like we’re shoppers - we compare and contrast the brands and buy the ones we feel have longevity for us and good cost per wear for the customers.”
Couched in its three-storey, listed 1830s townhouse in the centre of Sunderland, Eleven comes across as confident in the face of potentially nerve-wracking changes. This season, for example, Symington dropped womenswear and created a dedicated tailoring department. Is he sure about the move? “Yeah, it’s a great opportunity for us and good timing. We’re close to our customers - very close - and know what they want.” And that, after all, is what it’s all about.