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Brands have a unique opportunity when they go abroad. In a manner similar to some personalities that have re-invented themselves, the lack of preconceived notions of brand free them to experiment and often try things that may not have been Kosher closer to home. Club Monaco is one of those Redchurch Street new comers that has taken advantage of this to move far away from the early days of its Zebra assortment. Early buyers from Toronto (yes its a Canadian Brand) will remember the Bloor Street Store – which if memory serves well was located in the old Home Economics building for the University of Toronto – as being a barrage of blacks and whites with little colour present. Firstly the mens and women’s stores have been wrestled apart, similar to many of London’s iconic educational institutions like Eton or Harrow, it seems like the boys have their own personal place to shop now! Entirely hipster friendly the store is a real treat for visual merchandise aficionados. The store management are incredibly knowledgable about the provenance of the products down to the name of the Italian river that runs next to the factory making the sunglasses stocked in the store.

Club Monaco (London) Vintage Rolex Collection

Club Monaco (London) Vintage Rolex Collection

The real jewels however are tucked away upstairs on the first floor. Vintage Rolex anyone? The store boasts a beautifully curated set of 1970’s and 80’s Rolex that hark to this generation’s vintage (of their own father’s lore) and drives that ‘must buy’ reflex. A few years ago I would never have associated Club Monaco with the rich assortment of accessories that are on display. The ability for the store to retail the vintage Rolex ‘may’ make them the only place on Redchurch to sell the watch brand! The anchoring of a premium luxury brand is uplifting for Club Monaco also which is reflected in the generous pricing across various product categories (there are a few £100 pair socks in their – yes they are wool!).

Insight: Vintage accessories can prove to be a quiet draw to a new establishment should the collection be curated well.

I am told that the curator employed by Club Monaco also applies his skills for Ralph Lauren. Clearly the visual merchandising style of the Lauren stable is seeping across. The question is can Club Monaco pull it off? If done authentically as in the case of the Redchurch store which was actually a gun shop many a year back and showcases gun schematics and parts of various types of arms around the shop, I believe the brand can carry it off! 12 years ago I would never have pitched the Club Monaco brand against that of Ralph Lauren. If the experiment in London goes to plan this may be a space to watch as the brand reinvents its positioning and establishes the ‘separate’ menswear store format as a winning formula. The women’s store sits right on Sloane Square. Not quite hipsterville and having secured the lease after Gieves & Hawkes decided to move out!

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