Retailers Symposium: The speakers

Friday, January 13th 2017
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George Wang of Brio
George Wang: Brio, Beijing

As with previous Symposia, here is a preview of next week's coverage of the Retailers Symposium, with portraits of our six speakers. 

I have to say, they were the best six people yet in terms of eloquence and erudition. It was a pleasure to chair. 

Quote of the evening: "You won't make much money, but you will have some very nice clothes."

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

Mats Klingberg of Trunk Clothiers
Mats Klingberg: Trunk Clothiers, London
Ethan Newton of Brycelands
Ethan Newton: Brycelands, Tokyo
Mark Cho of The Armoury
Mark Cho: The Armoury, New York and Hong Kong
Patrick Lof of Skoaktiebolaget
Patrick Lof: Skoaktiebolaget, Stockholm
Anda Rowland of Anderson & Sheppard
Anda Rowland: Anderson & Sheppard, London

 

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Oskar

“You won’t make much money, but you will have some very nice clothes.”

I am really curious for more context to that quote, Simon. Following some of the speakers online (and their employees, for that matter) I have more than once wondered if they do not spend all their retailer’s (staff) income on premium bespoke, plus some extra given the depth of some of their wardrobes. Or if take their salaries in bespoke three-pieces, which would still be fairly lucrative but less nutritious.. any insights from your conversations?

Gus

It also helps if one inherits a business.

Patrik

Niche retail is not about making big bucks, just like Simon points out. There’s money to be made, no doubt but it’s not the get rich and buy a yacht kind of money. A lot of business owners in this type of retail has actually turned from more lucrative businesses to do what they actually love instead of making a pile of money. I think it’s a trend we see all across the world, not only in niche retail. The staff in these stores does spend a lot of their income on clothes, as it’s their passion.

Parker

Funny quote considering Ada Rowland (‘s family) owns A&S, George Wang seems to come from an rather affluent family and Mark Cho’s Armoury enterprise was sponsored and he later had enough money to buy Drakes.

The retailers I know may not make millions but when I talk to them they’re certainly earning enough to afford themselsves a comfortable life. A nice house and a new Jag every two years certainly don’t come out of nowwhere.

Anonymous

I would guess that Anda’s father’s estate was so huge that buying A&S would hardly have registered.

Gus

If one is wealthy and running such an operation, making money will be the least of one’s concerns.

The quote does seem quite unusual given the financial circumstances of some of these retailers. As Parker quite rightly points out, inheritance or favourable financing through personal or family connections does afford these retailers a less stressful life.

John

Hi Simon,
This is an excellent initiative! This is an issue absolutely worth tackling indeed!
I hope they are all aware of being in the same boat, and thus having to play their part in turning a huge tide under way. For the stakes have become too high despite a few gleams of hope.
John

Hugo Couto

Dear Simon,
I have been a loyal and avid reader of your blog for some years now. Needless to say that this loyalty comes from your excellent and inspirational work.
I would like to ask your opinion in two issues, both probably a bit out of place given the topic of your post.
Anyway, and still talking about money I would like to ask about your thoughts with regard to prices of some RTW brands such as Ring Jacket, Man 1924 or Suit Supply? Do you think the relation between price and quality is fair? Or some brands or retailers are just taking advantage of this new interest in classic menswear?
The second issues relates to Hong Kong tailors. I have been living in Macau for quite some years now and here the choice of tailors is quite limited. Therefore, in recent years I’ve become client of The Armoury, where I mainly acquired some Ring Jacket RTW items. The Armoury is in fact is an excellent shop, being their service highly professional. In my first visit to The Armoury I had the chance of meeting Alan See and every time I go there again and have the opportunity to meet him is always a pleasure because Alan is a really nice and simple person.
In terms of bespoke I’ve recently tried Brown’s Tailor and I am happy with result.
Anyway, what I would like to know is whether you still keep your recommendation of E. Italian or would you be able to recommend any other tailors who would be able to interpret in acceptable terms the Neapolitan style, which is my favourite.
Many thanks for your time.
Kind regards,
Hugo

Ned Brown

Simon, I see my friend, Anda Rowland, spoke- excellent choice. Greetings from sunny and warm (24C) Charleston, South Carolina.