Suitsupply is tailoring for a new age of retail

This week, @Drapers visited @suitsupply’s store in London’s West End to talk to its founder Fokke de Jong. In a retail climate often described as challenging, the brand has consistently had a year-on-year revenue growth of between 20 and 25 per cent. De Jong says that he found in men’s tailoring a niche that was “begging for disruption”. Disruption it got: shortly after its launch in 2000 – long before omnichannel was the word on everybody’s lips – it managed to strike the perfect balance between offering the convenience of an online store and the personal service made possible by bricks-and-mortar. Suitsupply’s physical stores were never purely transactional places but offered services such as in-store pickup of orders placed online, as well as personalised tailoring services.

In a time where the lines between online and physical are becoming increasingly blurred – with hashtag #phygital trending on Twitter – Suitsupply is leading the way. The brand is currently testing a tool where shoppers will be able to select products online that will be ready to be tried on in store. We have recently seen similar initiatives by Hammerson and H&M’s new multi-brand outlet, Afound, and it has proved to be an effective way of encouraging shoppers to visit shopping destinations.

Getting customers into stores has never been an issue for Suitsupply, despite its strategy to steer clear of conventional shopping destinations in favour of lower-cost locations. Offering that little something extra means customers are happily seeking out stores despite their absence on the high street. Suitsupply’s online offering also plays a big role when it comes to opening new stores as well, with online data being used to determine popularity across regions and thereby where the brand should open next.

Something worth noting when it comes to the merging of physical and digital is that, in an increasingly digital world, consumers are craving something from bricks-and-mortar that online simply cannot offer. When Westfield recently unveiled its vision for the future of retail, known as ‘Destination 2028’ – a concept heavily reliant on digital initiatives such as magic mirrors and personalised recommendations based on eye-scanning – it was interesting to see that the concept was driven, not by technology, but by social interaction and community. As successful as Suitsupply has been online, its heartbeat has always been something highly traditional – tailoring. Quite suitable for a brand going by the mantra “Don’t just fit in, find your perfect fit”.

Astrid Svensson

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