The global Suitsupply men’s fashion brand is looking at expanding its footprint in Canada as it moves on with the reopening of its locations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fokke de Jong, Founder and CEO, said the company has 150 stores worldwide.
“In most countries where we’re active in, we still have a lot of room to grow. We expect when we have the corona bump behind us we’re going to expand business a little further,” said de Jong.
The men’s fashion brand was founded in 2000 in Amsterdam. The first store outside the Netherlands was opened in Antwerp in 2007. Today, it has two locations in Toronto (9-11 Hazelton Avenue) and Montreal (2152 Rue de la Montagne) and is currently building at The Amazing Brentwood near Vancouver which is scheduled to open at the end of this year or early 2021.
“We are about getting people a perfect fit from everything basically that has a jacket on. We do suiting. We do jackets. We do the more elegant part of men’s fashion. And we’re making a product that’s a high-end, luxurious product, best Italian fabrics, best way of making it. We’ve been around now for almost 20 years and we’re successful all around the world because we’re doing that with a high amount of expertise but also are able to offer this level of product for an attainable price point,” said de Jong.
“I think we were the first almost direct to consumer omnichannel brand and we’ve been successful with that strategy for a long time now. We combine high-end product, high-end materials, but also high-end service. We believe in stores. Everybody is talking about online but we’ve been opening stores even last year and we’ll continue to do so because that’s where the heart of our brand is where we have people in our stores who are highly-trained, they know everything about suits, everything about styling and customers will go out and find them.”
Most of the Suitsupply stores are more of a destination with interesting places such as rooftops of buildings and mansions.
Because the retailer is a global company, it has seen the whole scenario of COVID play out already in February when China closed and reopened. So the company has been closing and reopening now for some time.
“What’s been really important for us as a brand is obviously when you reopen there’s all kinds of safety measures and precautions that we have to put in place and we’ve been learning to work with over the last months,” said de Jong.
“What is important there is when you reopen in a country people of course want to go out, they want to feel safe, but they also want to have an enjoyable experience. They’re craving to shop again, to go out again. So you don’t want to walk into a store that suddenly feels like you’re walking into an operating room where they’re doing an open heart surgery. So to do it in a way that feels not invasive is something we learned to do with all the cleaning protocols that we do. We go above and beyond. We clean all the fitting rooms after every visit, we steam all the clothes that have been tried on, we clean all the regular touch surfaces in set intervals.
“But we also have to get close to customers which is the most important thing because we’re about fitting customers, measuring them, and it’s pretty hard to pin somebody’s hems at a six-foot distance. It doesn’t work. We developed beautiful looking glass, shopping screens, that have holes in them, they actually look nice. We can measure them up in a very safe manner. It doesn’t feel intrusive. It feels like a natural part of the whole shopping experience and it’s something customers like.”
Experience has taught de Jong when countries reopen again the first few weeks are always a little slow. People have to venture outside again and sometimes people remain a little anxious about going back to normal.
“But after a few weeks, and we’ve seen it now in Europe, we’ve seen it in China, life gets back to sort of normal. It’s not like the world is going to be completely different after this is all over. People are wanting to go out again. They’re going to interact in some way or form. So it’s not as bad as people sometimes think. There’s a pretty normal world out there and we’ve seen it happen and come back in all the countries we’ve reopened,” added de Jong.