The physical retail space? A thing of the past? Try telling that to the discerning clientele who regular darken the doorways of Number 73 Duke Street: an elegant premises within a classic Mayfair red-brick terrace property, just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street. Here, style-conscious customers can pick up garments from Private White V.C., a Mancunian menswear outfitter renowned for its sturdy and stylish outerwear; some blue-chip leather and canvas weekenders, briefcases, holdalls, backpacks, totes and overnight bags from another British success story, Bennett Winch; and then enjoy traditional barber’s services, carried out with aplomb by Stefan Avanzato at his eponymous Grooming Lounge.
Oh, and then enjoy a cocktail and a fine cigar at their outdoor lounge, while catching up with the always congenial gentlemen behind the three establishments. “It’s all about creating an exclusive experience for the client in a ‘one stop luxury shop’,” says Avanzato. “Our clients come to us knowing they can leave with everything they need which will leave them feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. We understand that time is of the essence which is why our business model gives them the opportunity to make the most of theirs. Under the same roof and in a sleek set up, we have three different brands that act as the perfect complement to one another.”
Andrew Allan, Retail Director for Private White V.C. adds that the two-floor premises represents a step in luxury retail’s evolution. “When we started thinking about the space, we decided a change was needed,” he says. “We’ve grown our store business for four years but over that time a disruption has been going on that marks a need for retailers to evolve. What strikes me the most is how large stores are not listening to clients. Flagship retail has always been about education – some customers are coming across the brand for the first time, others it’s their home away from home.
“The store has always been designed with flexibility in mind – the furniture is all able to be broken down and stored back of house to create a big open event space. During these events the store has another dynamic – it becomes more social and we thought why not make it like this all the time. Finding the right partners was key: Stefan at Avanzato had a solid client base squarely in our demographic so we would add something to our clients’ store visits that was expanding their trip rather than simply being an add on. This means we have now become a leisure spot – somewhere they come to hang out relax and enjoy down time.
The relationship between Private White V.C. and Bennet Winch, meanwhile, was already established by the time the two brands operated under the same roof. “We were their first stockist,” says Allan. “But they had grown in size to need a stand-alone store – by creating the space within the store enabled us to carry the full range, enhancing the offer whilst helping them serve the needs of their clients with greater service levels. You need to find the right partners and drivers to keep the store at the heart of the shopping experience – we’ve created something now that brings a new energy level to the store.
For Robin Winch, meanwhile – Co-Founder of Bennett Winch – the space’s sheer congeniality is of paramount importance in the digital age. “We feel most men are not that keen on shopping,” he explains, “and would prefer to just order things online for convenience. Creating a space which is more of an experience is therefore crucial to temping people away from their keyboards and giving them a chance to discover Bennett Winch while also having a haircut, chatting to the staff, drinking a whisky and leaving with a new bomber jacket for the weekend. It’s all about making it a friendly, welcoming experience that people would like to visit again and again.
“In terms of benefits for the business, it gives us a great space to host events, allows our consumers to see and touch the product before they buy it and also gives us a central showroom from which to show the collection to other potential retailers.”