The Start – Premises, Brands

  1. Rob
  2. September 25, 2010 7:49 am

Late 1993.  I’d returned from a 3 year stay in Australia, where I’d been State Manager of a photographic company, before setting up, growing and selling a contract painting business in Sydney.
I’d always had a passion for clothing, and a hankering to run my own Menswear store.  I’d no experience of either retail or the fashion business, so of course, everyone thought I was bonkers.

The UK was just recovering from a pretty serious recession, and quite a few of my favourite Menswear stores in London and Kent had gone out of business in the time I’d been away.  One such shop was a 450 square foot unit in Bexleyheath.  It had been empty for ages, apparently, but there was no “to let” sign, and nobody seemed to know who owned the property.  Eventually I traced the owner through the Met police keyholder list.  I met the landlord, and struck an incredible deal with him – rent of £4500 for the first year, rising by £500 a year for 5 years. Unbelievable!  The shop was in a secondary position, but my intention was to create a “destination store” by offering a really good selection of designer brands.  The shopfit was custom-made shelving with a pewter finish and a polished wooden floor.  Very cool!

Having no contacts and no knowledge of the business, securing a nice portfolio of brands wasn’t the easiest task.  research, hassling and loads of legwork eventually prevailed.  Opening brands included Aviatic Jeans, Chipie, Unlimited Jeans, Liberto Jeans, Sirio shirts and a smattering of small indie brands.  Aviatic and Liberto made fantastic jeans – both brands would do well right now if they were still around.  What happened to them?  I bought Sirio Italian shirts from one of the nicest guys in the business.  Pete Dias, owner of Ramostyle agency really took care of me. He was, and is, one of the true gentlemen of the industry.  The Sirio brand was flying at the time, and it was all about shirts back then.  Other agents were less scrupulous, and had no respect or consideration for a “newbie”.  I remember being told I “must” buy the 26″ waist jeans if I wanted to buy stock of a particular brand by a particularly unscrupulous arsehole in West London.

Prior to opening, the store was publicized with a massive fly-poster campaign around South-East London and Kent.  This was a great advertising medium, but became a bit scary, as we were treading on the toes of a big organized gang of illegal fly-posters!

Armed with a pretty good starting line-up, and with a shop-fit nearing completion, opening day was approaching fast…………

GD Star Rating

1 Comment

  1. chris.deverell says:
    Posted December 20, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    So what sort of costs were involved with the brands? How much stock did you have to buy with a smaller brands compared to one of the bigger brands? How have the costs / amount you need to order changed from when you first started to the last season?

    GD Star Rating

Leave a Reply