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Shopwatch: Suitsupply

Suitsupply has revamped its London flagship - and will now take its playful approach to tailoring nationwide following the revamp of its London flagship.

Suitsupply has been on a mission to challenge traditional tailoring - by offering high-quality cloths in modern cuts at affordable prices - ever since it was established in the Netherlands in 2000. In 2007 it opened in London and the location of its flagship just off Savile Row perfectly reflects the retailer’s playful anti-establishment attitude.

Sitting between sandwich shop Eat and leather specialist Alma and opposite Gieves & Hawkes, the limestone-fronted 2,960 sq ft Vigo Street store unveiled a new concept on October 16. Theinterior design combines clean white walls with optical illusion-style geometric wallpaper and pops of acid green and neon orange. Working on Apple Macs, smart sales associates sporting cropped suit trousers and bright pocket squares all contribute
to the modern tailoring experience.

In the left window, mannequins showcase autumn 14 ready-to-wear in cloths from Italian mills Ferla and Vitale Barberis Canonico. One wears a slim-cut brown coat in an alpaca and mohair mix (£399), and another sports a grey check double-breasted suit in an alpaca and cotton blend (£359). Behind the mannequins, autumn 14 campaign imagery is clearly visible, showing a sharp-suited man surrounded by astronauts.

Cloth from Italian mills Subalpino and Fratelli Ormezzano takes centre stage in the right-hand window. One mannequin is styled with a green wool check waistcoat (£89) paired with a chambray shirt (£79), blue wool and silk tie (£49) and brown brogues (£229). Another wears a mustard jacket
in a blend of hemp, wool and cashmere (£259) and grey wool cargo pants (£129), accessorised with a tweed and leather holdall (£349).

Once inside, the first thing the customer sees is a tailor, sitting in a silver cubicle at the centre of the store surrounded by three sewing machines used for garment alterations. A signature of Suitsupply stores, the tailor is always central to the interior design, instead of being a ‘backroom boy’ like most alteration tailors.

Set across two floors, the store is divided into rooms to create an intimate shopping experience, explains Suitsupply founder Fokke de Jong. Unwilling to confirm the exact figure, De Jong simply says the “substantial investment” was “money well spent”.

Opening with Suitsupply’s casual range, the ground floor is an ordered, brightly lit space with white walls and fixtures designed to let the product shine. Casualwear is merchandised on a white plastic unit built into the left wall, incorporating two tiers of shelving and a rail beneath. Cashmere knitwear (£129) and cotton shirts (£59 to £149) are neatly folded on the shelves, alongside a selection of shoes (£199 to £239) and bags (£249 to £329).

On the rails, garments are grouped by looks. Shirts hang under soft tweed blazers (£259) or cashmere hoodies (£149), while waistcoats are accessorised with pocket squares (£8 to £35).

Following the left wall towards the rear of the store takes the customer up two steps to an accessories area. Here a colourful wall of ties on the left faces a glass and brushed steel cupboard on the right, filled with smartly folded cotton shirts (£59 to £149). In the middle, two wooden tables display cufflinks (£39 to £69), cashmere beanies (£59) and leather gloves (£59 to £129).

At the back of the ground floor is a custom suit department, with six changing rooms. Suitsupply has dispensed with tradition, asking customers to perch on bright red stools at a tailor’s table to choose their Italian cloth, as well as select collars, cuffs and buttons showcased in a glass cabinet. While suit, coat and shirt fittings take place in store, the garments are delivered four to six weeks later. “While we cater for most styles within the collection, sometimes people want a bespoke version of tailoring, so we can alter the pattern, cut and lining,” De Jong explains.

Suitsupply’s eveningwear selection is located in the spacious basement, accessible by stairs at the front right of the store. Downstairs is decorated with mirrored walls and wallpaper in orange houndstooth and monochrome patterns. Suits are displayed on white rails built into the wall, with all collections grouped by size from 34-inch regular to 50-inch long.

The entry-level Blue Line collection is made from Super 110s to Super 120s wool-rich fabrics. The Purple Line suits are in Super 110s to Super 130s wool, cashmere, mohair and cotton cloth. Finally the Suit Up or Red Line is made from Super 130s to Super 160s wool, cashmere and silk cloth, with hand-finished details.

The basement has seven changing rooms and a combined shoe and luggage area. Brown loafers from Italian designer Antonio Maurizi (£249) and dark brown double monk-strap shoes (£239) are displayed on shelves next to leather portfolio bags (£369) and red wool suit bags (£299). Suitsupply has done away with comfortable sofas, opting instead for a white modular seating and display unit, showcasing wallets (£29 to £129), iPad covers (£69) and gloves in Perspex boxes.

Since opening in 2007, Suitsupply’s London flagship has become one of its most important locations worldwide. In 2008 the retailer opened in Westfield London, before unveiling a store on Lime Street in 2010. Success in London provided a springboard for US and Chinese expansion. This year alone Suitsupply has opened in Las Vegas, Seattle, Toronto, Moscow, Arizona and Johannesburg, taking its total to more than 45 stores worldwide.

With Vigo Street complete, De Jong is planning two new London stores, although he was unable to confirm locations or opening dates. He also sees potential for stores in Manchester and Birmingham - cities which generate lots of orders online.

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