The clue is in the name with Sandro Homme.
Address 176B Westbourne Grove, London W11
UK stores One
Store descriptor Men’s flagship
Brands Sandro Homme
This is a French brand that has standalone outposts in Paris but which had nothing of the kind in this country. For about a month, however, a store has been up and running in the heart of posh and fashionable west London. Described by the brand as a “flagship”, although it is not a large space, it occupies one of the wings of Westbourne Grove Church. It is also just a few doors along the street from Sandro, the brand’s core womenswear arm.
There is a billboard on the wall of the church with a single word: ‘Forgiveness.’ This is aimed at those seeking succour but could equally be applied to Sandro Homme, as there are a number of elements about both range and the design of the store that might appear to be in need of a mild rethink.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
There’s nothing wrong with what has been done at the Sandro Homme store, from a retail merchandising perspective. Everything is in the right place and the mannequins do what they are supposed to, in groups, in the windows along the side of the shop.
This is a narrow shop and it is a little like organising the stock in a railway station with side-hung merchandise around the perimeter and a train, in the shape of a laid merchandise table, in the mid-shop. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with what has been done: it is all quite tasteful. If, however, you take the view that effective in-store VM is about turning heads and making you take a look around, then this is so low-key it fails to convince.
02 - CONCEPT
So here’s a great idea. Let’s take a unit that is in the wing of church. That will establish a real point of difference. Then let’s turn it into a white box interior that more or less banishes any sense of the building of which it is part. The exterior of this shop is fine – how could it be anything else? It will have been hedged around with planning restrictions anyway. The interior is fringe luxury design by numbers. You could be in any mono-brand shop.
03 - SERVICE
elpful and instantly on hand to tidy up anything left mildly out of place when looking at the product on the mid-shop table. The problem seemed to be that this was all they had to do. The Sandro store for women, less than 100m away, was busy, but this store was untroubled by shoppers which meant that, in spite of their best efforts, the service being offered was not being taken advantage of.
04 - PRODUCT
There are two points to be made. Sandro Homme is expensive and it is very fitted. The size range runs up to a 44in chest, apparently, but generally the collection is aimed at those with narrow shoulders that taper to a very narrow waist. Jackets are almost all darted to give that slimline profile. The colour palette is, for the most part, muted, with black, grey, navy and various browns, with claret red as a highlight colour. The range itself is not broad, although it would be possible to kit yourself out from head to foot.
05 - COMPETITION
If you want posh, contemporary men’s clothing in this part of London, there’s quite a lot to choose from and most of it is better end. Indie Wolf & Badger is just across the street, while Woodhouse, Aubin & Wills and rival French brand The Kooples (also for anorexic males) are all nearby. The other point probably worth bearing in mind is that if nothing seems suitable in the immediate vicinity, Westfield London is less than five minutes away by bus, or chauffeur-driven BMW. Competition for Sandro Homme is, in short, red of tooth and claw and may prove a problem for this brand.
06 - VERDICT - May struggle for shoppers
A relatively new brand to these shores although the women’s label is well established. This first toe in the water for the men’s offer looks fraught with difficulties. If you choose to set up a store in part of a church, then shoppers will probably expect something rather more than a bland white interior. There is certainly a lot of disposable cash washing around this part of Notting Hill, but not a great deal of it seemed to be engaging with this shop. Perhaps it will work, but it may struggle to become part of the affluent male shopping circuit.