After almost 50 years British influencing youth culture, Ben Sherman is increasingly embracing a more contemporary, premium image. At Pitti Uomo we caught up with Pan Philippou, CEO at Ben Sherman, to see how much further he intended to push the boundaries in terms of creativity and innovation to conquer these new customers, while still retaining its heritage with core Ben Sherman fans.
Pan, what’s happening in the Ben Sherman brand?
We want the Ben Sherman brand to be more relevant. We have a history and we want to communicate it through our collections and the atmosphere of our sales outlets. Ben Sugarman (who took the surname Sherman in USA) built his brand on revolutionary concepts in the sixties, exporting the icon of British style to over 40 countries all over the world. Now we feel the time has come to break out of the mould and interpret our traditional values in a more subtle key, embracing a lifestyle with wider horizons while maintaining the modernist inspiration which makes us unique.
So what strategies are currently in place?
As starters we’re raising the level of the positioning and the public’s perception of our product to stake out a higher premium area of the market. This is our first time at Pitti Uomo, which alone puts us in a different competitive league, and we’re presenting our EC1 project: a line of top quality chinos in a daring range of colours and fits, all really close to bespoke tailoring. And because we’re best known for our shirts this is already a message about our new brand strategy. But we’re also injecting new life into our core business. Our shirts are still the backbone of our retail strategy: Ben Sherman sales outlets are built around our “The Shirt Bar“, where you get the exclusive best of the brand.
Full-on creativity in other words?
Definitely, but carefully preserving our “the Heritage of Modernism” spirit, just nudging it towards more of a “subtle lifestyle” image. Our whole creative and commercial team is new, they all come from international experiences with brands like Dolce&Gabbana and Diesel. We’ve built a great team and we’re all having a lot of fun (Editor’s note: the evening before the interview will always be remembered by those who were there for its live acoustic session with Jamie G and the G&Ts).
So you’re thinking international?
We are indeed. We especially want to open more Ben Sherman Commercial Street stores (the newly opened shop in Commercial Street East London). We’re looking for at least one site in Milan so that we can be on the street in one of the world’s key fashion markets.
And how about brand extension?
We already have partners making shoes, fragrances and watches. And we want to focus our strategy in this sector too. There are some strategic categories we still haven’t explored, such as eyewear and swimwear, but we think there are other opportunities too, now we’ve gone for a higher lifestyle bracket. Next year is our 50th birthday and that might just be the right occasion to celebrate with some co-branding activities and new partnerships.
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