Oliver Spencer’s new shop
British menswear designer, Oliver Spencer has recently opened a new shop in London’s Soho. It’s Spencer’s second stand alone clothes store in the capital (there’s also his self titled shoe shop on Lambs Conduit Street) and is perfectly situated on Soho’s Berwick Street, next door to well known trainer shop, Footpatrol.
A couple of weeks ago I took a trip down to have a look around and have a chat with store manager Tom about how the shop’s been going since it opened and Oliver’s decision to move more central location.
So then, how come Oliver chose Soho for the new shop, because it’s a very different type of location to Lambs Conduit Street (LCS)?
Well it is and it isn’t, even though it’s in central London, and central London can be a bit boring sometimes, Soho still seems to maintain its character and hold on to its identity.
True, but I guess the thing I’ve always thought with LCS is that it’s a bit of a destination, you’ve got to know about it and know where it is to go there, whereas here you’ve got the benefit of getting a decent amount of footfall.
Oh yeah, definitely. And that’s something we were looking for, a bit more footfall and getting the brand out there for a bit more brand recognition. And a lot of our existing customers are around here and would come over to LCS, so now we’re saving them that 20 minute journey.
And I imagine a lot of your customer base probably works around this area don’t they…
Yeah, they’re our kind of guy, completely. When we were planning the move and looking around the area with Shaftsbury Estates they actually call Berwick Street Soho High Street. I think that means a lot to Oliver because he’s very keen to bring something back to UK retail and stop it being that monotony of high street shops.
This area’s certainly quite eclectic and it’s got a similar feel to LCS in that respect. We’ve got some great neighbours, there’s Jimmy round the corner at YMC, Footpatrol next door and Supreme down the road, so there’s some good shops in the area.
It’s interesting that you came to Soho though, rather than what would possibly have been the easier thing and gone out East, what with it being touted as the new Menswear destination.
Well it is yeah, and we really racked our brains about East London. When we first opened LCS we were like, “right, next store, let’s get cracking” and it’s taken us nearly four years to open another. Obviously there’s been plenty going on but we wanted to get the second shop right and wanted to have a flagship store in Central London. Plus we’ve got a couple of great wholesale accounts out East with Number Six and Anthem.
And how’s the area been treating you since you opened the doors?
It’s been good, we’ve been open for a week and from spending four years at the shop on LCS I can immediately see a difference in pace and the way people are shopping around here. You get people from all walks of life over here, whereas at LCS you’ve got the people that either live there or who come specifically to the street. Here you’ve got all of that plus tourists getting lost and people discovering the shop by chance. Which is another big part of the appeal of being here.
So have you many people looking round in the past week? Obviously it takes a while for people to know you’re here, have you had any die-hard fans coming in to see the shop yet?
Yeah, yeah we have. I’ve already had a few of the locals from the other shop popping in for a look at what we’re doing down here and saying how convenient it is to have the shop in the area. There’s been a steady flow of people in, we had a guy from the Charlatans in the other day.
That’s part of the charm of Soho for me – there’s people from all walks of life around here, lots of tourists, and even the odd Hollywood A-lister, and all of them make for great eclectic mix (At this point a motorcycle courier pops in and starts telling us his life story)…
There’s a perfect example, you just get guys coming in with a cup of coffee and you end up chin wagging with them and that’s kind of the culture we want to have around the shop, to have a bit of a community around the brand.
So when does Spring/Summer come into the shop?
Spring/Summer’s coming imminently, middle to end of January, we’re wanting to get it out and into the shops nice and early. It feels like Oli’s taking really big steps forward at the moment and this collection’s the strongest yet…
I’d agree with that…
You saw it at the show didn’t you. I think he’s still managed to maintain his handwriting though and it’s still very obviously Oliver Spencer. It’s funny but I’ll be walking down the street and I’ve got a hawk eye for his stuff, I know I work with it all of the time but I think it’s still really distinctive and versatile clothing.
A big thanks to Tom for his time and letting me take some photographs. If you’re in the area the shop’s more than worth a look and the sale is now on. For a look at this Spring/Summer collection go here and here and for more information on the brand, to find your nearest stockist, or to buy online, go here: Oliver Spencer