Menswear Buyer Article January


2016 was the year that gave us some new and charged additions to our modern lexicon. Some were less welcome than others. Is it any wonder that we needed ‘Hygge’ in response to Trump, Brexit, Alt-Right and Post-Truth? For those yet to understand the importance of Hygge, it follows on a now well worn path of embracing all things Skandi for the simple reason that they must be better, as the air is cleaner. It’s all about embracing simplicity, warmth, family. Think open fire, sheepskin rugs, candles. Cosy. Safe.

My Christmas was Hygge Max. I rejected all invitations, stocked up on champagne, and we cooked, walked, ate, dozed and unwound. Friends received home made cake as gifts; I made it to midnight Mass, at a Church I’d hitherto not attended. For some reason the cheerful flyer that popped through my letterbox made me imagine carols, old and new, children in laughably crude nativity outfits; doddery grandparents nodding off. But there was none of that at St. Stephens. This was stern stuff. Pulpits, psalms and preaching. Incense; chants and promise of damnation even before the Queen’s Speech. High Church rather than Hygge Church.

So what lies ahead in 2017?

Well, contrary to popular mood, I’m positive. Partly, I suppose, as things couldn’t get worse globally (please let me be right!) but also because I think that retailers and brands are seriously sharpening their act. There’s no doubt that some hefty price rises are coming through. We’ve tried to absorb as much of Sterling’s drop as we can, but are raising our prices by around 5% from next month. Rather than see this as a necessary evil, and try to get away with as much as possible, I see this as an opportunity to raise my game. We’ve increased the spec on our cufflinks and watches, to help justify the rises.

And this is where I think that shops can do their part. Don’t just shrug your shoulders and pass on the costs. Put pressure on suppliers to raise their game too; better quality, more POS, improved training. If they’re not supporting you, then don’t be afraid to drop them. Your customers would. We need to offer our customers something more; and more importantly, something that the web can’t do. Look at the best web operators, such as Amazon, and how easy they make it for customers. Are you making it that easy in store? And what else can you offer?

It was one of the key words of 2016 but I believe it will be the headline for 2017. It’s experience. Only the very best experience will interest, attract and retain your customers. If you can do that, and send them out smiling, then you have a great year ahead.

Image by Malcolm Bell

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