Teenagers are obsessed with it, adults are bemused by it, just what is so special about Jack Wills?
The Jack Wills phenomenon is one that has taken the industry by surprise. Founders Peter Williams and Robert Shaw have quietly managed to carve out their own niche in preppy fashion terms. They invented the fantasy brand back in 1999 and rumour has it, sent all the head pupils in the poshest boarding schools freebies to begin the craze. This canny exercise created an insatiable desire amongst teens, which at last tax year, saw the company sales doubling on the year before at £42 million.
To really understand where they are coming from, a visit to the long, awaited new store on Longacre was all that was needed. Inspired visual merchandising and in-store dressing, coupled with fun and original product has allowed the brand to clearly demonstrate where they sit in the market.
The product mix was interesting: lots of jersey and light summer items, with a few really fun pieces that only teenagers can wear. I liked the way there were still lots of university type items, cricket jumpers, house scarves, swimming caps with JA-CK on them, they were oddly quite cool.
The store could be summed up as an episode of ‘Posh Skins’ in a stately home. Creepin g around exploring the space, I was entertained by kooky displays and funky props. In between the old bookcases and hockey sticks, there were were QR codes to download the latest brand information and, as you would imagine, lots of links to twitter and facebook.
It was fun and exciting, enough to make this hardened marketeer flirt with the idea of owning a floral tutu. Yes I don’t know exactly when I would wear it but that’s not the point. The world of Jack Wills is posh, preppy and naughty, taking an impressive 15 mins to sink right under my skin. I think I get it now!