Jonathan Wintle explains how the opening of AS Colour’s first UK retail store will benefit its imprint customers
Shoreditch in east London is the epicentre of UK hipster style – all IT and artisans, craft beer, bushy beards and single-speed cycles. This summer it also became home to the UK’s first AS Colour retail store – a new venture that will directly benefit wholesale customers, promises the brand. The Shoreditch store may be a first for AS Colour in the UK, however it joins an established and successful international retail operation: there are already 17 other standalone AS Colour retail stores in Australia and New Zealand, all of which are located in similarly fashionable neighbourhoods.
“Shoreditch mirrors the location of our existing stores,” explains Jonathan Wintle, AS Colour’s general manager for Europe. “For example, we have a store in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia: the area has a contemporary, cool reputation which mirrors where the brand is positioned and hits the right demographic – people who hang out in coffee shops, don’t buy into mainstream fashion, shop in boutiques and favour independent brands.”
AS Colour has opened its first UK store in London’s Shoreditch
According to Jonathan, all of the stores look the same, right down to the very last detail. “Our London store is identical in fit out. The store fittings have been manufactured in New Zealand and our [UK] showroom in Marlow even has the same wooden floors, which were shipped over from New Zealand, to keep the identity of the brand consistent. We’re selling plain products so it’s important that we enhance our image.” At 150m2 the new store is big enough to house the entire AS Colour range and its location means that it can also function as a central London showroom.
“Part of our decision to open the shop was to boost brand awareness,” explains Jonathan. “As the location is good there’s a dual benefit: it can work as a standalone retail store and as a tool for wholesalers [imprint customers]. They can drop in whenever they are out and about in London, or they can send their clients in to have a look around.”
Since launching in New Zealand 12 years ago, AS Colour has built up its wholesale business supplying printers and retailers and has also successfully launched in the US. The collection now incorporates more than 100 products across a wide range of categories including T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, headwear and bags. The 220gsm Classic Tee (5026) is one of the most popular styles in its range, as the soft fabric, heavy weight, clean neckline and extra length means that it can command healthy prices when sold by high street retailers, Jonathan reports.
“In the UK, AS Colour’s customer base is predominantly small-to-medium brands who use our products, then re-label and re-tag,” he adds. “These are currently sold in Asos, Topshop and Selfridges, but you wouldn’t know it. We also do a lot of music merchandise and supply all the major music labels in the UK for both merchandise and touring. We’re aimed at the more fashion-conscious customer base – our fabrics and cut are better than the bog-standard products in the industry.”
The Shoreditch store is open seven days per week, and normal trading hours are 10am-6pm, with late opening on Thursdays. “We’ll invite all our customers to book an appointment or have a wander round,” says Jonathan. “They can also send their clients in. We have a facility to contact the store and say a client is interested, so we can then make an appointment to talk them through the range. Screen printers can come in with their clients or feel comfortable sending them alone, as customers will only ever see the RRP. This helps to maintain the integrity of the brand.”
The London store is managed by Guy Jansen, who has worked as a store manager in New Zealand for three years. “Guy knows the range inside out and is used to dealing with wholesale customers,” says Jonathan. “He’s well versed in the imprint market and he can help customers, whether they just want to buy a couple of T-shirts or have more complex wholesale requests.” The new AS Colour store is located at 50 Redchurch Street, London, EC2. To arrange an appointment email: firstname.lastname@example.org