A Row of Opportunity: Savile Row's pivot towards RTW

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Grammaton Cleric, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    I'm an Arsenal fan, so I totally appreciate the long-term benefits of a solid financial model. But it's also pretty obvious that it's held us back massively in the short term; building the Emirates and having to control costs aggressively in the decade since that decision is the reason we currently lack the squad to challenge consistently for the PL, let alone the Champions League. By contrast, Man City and Chelsea's respective sugar daddies have kept them in the fight. Even 'pool have John Henry. The hope is that now the Emirates is paid-for, we can get back into the transfer market and compete properly again. But we're starting from back in the field compared to the less financially-challenged clubs. Actually, Man Utd face the same problem now (but worse, as they're in lots of debt), of needing to spend a lot to get back up the table.

    Grammaton's OP asked us to consider how SR could compete with mass-market RTW brands like Brioni & Zegna. My "ideal" answers are from the perspective of that question: i.e. that the only ways it could actually manage that would be through rich owners' financing or extremely risky moves to cut costs of their core product. I don't think they're "ideal" from a more general perspective of "how should SR run its business". I think the middling option I outlined that you also quoted is the most practical. But I also don't think it will work in the long-term (i.e. 2 or 3 decades down the line), based on how much rents are increasing. I think they'll all have lost the rental battle by then. They'll have to move somewhere else then, but by then any publicity buzz around such a move may be gone. I'm not massively optimistic, to be honest. The Gieves model of some remaining bespoke, used as a halo to sell indifferent RTW where it can, will be all that's left by then, which will be a shame.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  2. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    This narrative is appealing to many customers, and marketed properly, can sell clothes. The problem is not the price of real estate. It's that SR firms have refused to adopt any viable business model that would position them globally, to invest properly in marketing, and accept growth and possibly diversification of offerings as things that need to happen. Lobbying for rent control is a losing battle. The only way forward is to focus on growth, not fight acceptance of realities.
     
  3. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Why is this a shame? Why can't it be very good RTW with bespoke as a valuable cost center? Certainly, the great culture houses gave done this very successfully.
     
  4. gegarrenton

    gegarrenton Senior member

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    Thanks goodness for Arsenal, keeps Mourihino winning! :)

    I don't think SR is going to compete with mass market RTW, unless they become mas market RTW, then what's the point? There is a small demand for traditional bespoke tailoring. Fill that need, augmenting with licensing, accessories and limited RTW. Like I said, Poole and A&S do this very well already, in different ways.
    They don't need to be global unless they want to, that's the entire point. This isn't a huge menswear corporation. This is small, mostly privately owned niche providers who will turn out people who just want a small specialized firm if they opt for global branding. The ones that maintain a solid business model will reap the customers turned out by those who go #menswear.
     
  5. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    They need to sell a lot more product, is the bottom line. This means expanding their offerings and also growing their customer base, especially outside of Europe or North America, which, frankly are not growth market. They need a marketing push in the middle and far east. Working more closely with celebrities would not hurt. Scoff if you must, but working with Hollywood helped Brioni tremendously.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  7. gegarrenton

    gegarrenton Senior member

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    No, they don't, is the bottom line. They don't need "growth" in the sense of a shareholder led corporation unless that is their goal. Their overheads are pretty fixed and if rent is capped on SR then it's really capped. They are mostly profitable businesses currently as well.
     
  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    A lot of brands have revived fairly recently, two of the most notable being Gucci, the other, Burberry.

    You are right though, it won't work unless the firms embrace complete reinvention.
     
  9. Macallan

    Macallan Senior member

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    The Gieves & Hawskes rtw model, was to try everything - half-canvas suits, some fused jackets, Gieves fusion line, blazer shop and casual wear. They should have kept it simple with a decent half-canvas product; instead, it seems they are were targeting too many things.

    They become 'lost' and this had a negative impact; hence, the closure of a lot concessions.

    The shop space on Savile Row has seen so many changes, as they try different things.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  10. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Why should the rent be capped? You are saying that overheads are fixed.... either exception of the most important line item.
     
  11. gegarrenton

    gegarrenton Senior member

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    I'm not arguing that it should, it's up to London and Westminster in particular to decide if the cultural impact is great enough. If is is indeed capped, the overheads of the tailoring business are pretty much what they are. It's a highly mature industry and costs are pretty well pegged right to inflation these days.
     
  12. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    Norton & Sons seems to have an nice approach to it i think. It continues it's bespoke, but with the added venture of RTW through a sister label (E. Tautz). Maybe some of the other houses can consider a similar model for competing, paying the bills, and even expanding.

    I wonder how tailors that have moved off the Row have faired, for example Edward Sexton. It might serve as a glimpse on how a SR house, potentially leaving the Row, would fair...
     
  13. gegarrenton

    gegarrenton Senior member

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    Norton does a very good job I think. That is a good strategy they use as well.

    Guys like Sexton and Everest have no problem being off Row. Much lower overheads and simpler operations. They are also very low volume compared to Row houses. They also have big names to bank on though, so I don't know how others would fare.
     
  14. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    That model seems to be working very well, from what I've seen.

    E.Twits is developing a name independent of Norton, which is awesome.
     
  15. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    The fact that they are lobbying so hard for this makes me suspect their profitability. Of course, we can't be sure about privately held companies.
     

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