Fiacha Harrington: What is your philosophy for My O My, The Men store?
Tuomas Vuorensola: Wow, that’s a deep question, ha ha ha. Our goal is to sell individual quality clothing for the guys who are in the know but we also want to educate the consumers as much as much as possible, because they seem to want to learn and to know more about their clothing. We care about things such as production, how the clothes are made, where they are from and so on. I really want to expand the customer base more and also to reach out to younger consumers, but not to forget our existing client base and the men that were here first.
FH: Can you tell us a little bit about the brands in the store?
TV: Well, it’s a mix, we have clothes from nearly every region, Scandinavian, American, Italian, and Japanese. With all the different brands that we carry we always aim to go with quality first. For example, when we decided to sell bags we decided to work with only the best, so we work with Mismo and Porter, and when we talk about working with Italian companies we work with brands such as Barena, Marni, and Harris Wharf. When we go to labels from England we have clothes from Universal Works and Sunspel. We aim to carry a diverse selection of labels for our different male customers.
We care about things such as production, how the clothes are made, where they are from and so on.
FH: What are new brands for the store in 2017?
TV: This is my first full season of buying for the store and I’ll be introducing new brands. When it comes to shoes, I’m bringing in sneakers and apparel from Adidas and quality leather shoes from Grenson and Danner Boots. For clothes we are introducing Marni for the first time to the Finnish market. I am looking to bring some more sporty labels too, so we will have clothes from Canada and Reigning Champ as well as Wings and Horns. I didn’t want to mix up the label selection too much and we are definitely taking into consideration our existing client base that is perhaps used to the more refined labels. Over the coming seasons I do want to fine tune the selection we have on offer to meet the consumers’ needs as well as those brands that I would love to cater for them, I’m not expecting to change things overnight.
FH: What are your thoughts on men’s fashion in 2017?
TV: From a retail point of view, I think we are living in interesting times, with the continued boom in e-commerce and the role of the internet. You really have to make an effort to find quality clothing and brands that are not already over saturated on the internet and to keep the label selection unique and appealing. Competition is really hard at the moment – you just have to be as careful as possible in your selections and to separate yourself from other stores in the area. At the end of the day everyone is still doing the same kind of thing, so you have to have your own twist. From our point of view there is no revolution in the selection of labels, we try to keep it quite classical and basic when it comes to men’s fashion.
You really have to make an effort to find quality clothing and brands that are not already over saturated on the internet and to keep the label selection unique and appealing.
FH: What are the strongest trends at the moment?
TV: It seems that people are spending more and more money on bags and shoes. And men are willing to pay more and more for a proper coat. We stock coats from Harris Wharf and Norwegian Rain as well as something from Sunspel.
FH: What do you see happening in The Men store over the next twelve months?
TV: Whenever we talk about fashion Finland, you always need to consider the weather. Hopefully we will see a lot of new customers and consumers finding us – actually it is something that happens everyday, it seems we are not that well known even though we have been up and running for five years already. We really aim to build the awareness of our brand and to get those new customers coming through the door. We are definitely aiming to reach a wider consumer group. In the next twelve months I also want to renew the space a bit but the key thing is to fine tune the selection of brands that we carry. We aim to be as current as possible.
FH: What is your average clientele?
TV: At the moment our clientele is primarily made up of men in their 30s through to their 50s, who are looking for something smart and sharp. Men who dress more formal for work come here looking for something more casual but still smart. We are not known for selling traditional suits – there are others guys doing a great job of that here in Helsinki. So they may come here to look for something nice to travel in or for more casual occasions. At the moment we have a bit of a niche market but it is something that we are looking to expand on. With new opportunities there will be new challenges. Because Helsinki is a small city, it is difficult to just be a niche store so we are looking to increase that customer base.
FH: Do you get many female customers and what are they looking for in a men’s store?
TV: We have a reputation of being one of the best gift stores in Helsinki. We get a lot of women customers looking for something special for their husband’s or boyfriend’s – especially during the holiday season. We also have a good reputation for selling really good bags – and they are primarily unisex – so we get a lot of female customers coming through the door because they have heard that we have the best selection of quality bags in town.
Communicate! Talk to me – let’s talk about fashion and details and try to be as open as possible.
FH: What is the balance between in store sales and online sales?
TV: In store is killing it compared to online sales. This is primarily due to the fact that we have not put that effort and energy into e-commerce, but it is something that we are looking to expand on. We are partners in Farfetch, which is really booming, but the bread and butter comes from the in-store sales. The split is probably around 80/20 in favour of in-store sales. As well as Farfetch and our own online store and website, there is a bit of a challenge trying to keep stock of everything when there are three outlets – so it can be a little complicated. Clientele through Farfetch is global. We sell a lot to North America and Asia, because a lot of the brands we have don’t have their own webstore. We will have certain styles that are not otherwise available on the internet, so we generate some good business through being partnered with Farfetch. Our own web store caters more for the Finnish clientele, in particular those outside Helsinki. The webstore acts primarily as a window to the store, so people can see with a glance what is happening, but that is something that we are going to put more effort into during this year.
FH: What is your advice for first time customers?
TV: Communicate! Talk to me – let’s talk about fashion and details and try to be as open as possible. When someone comes through the door for the first time I try to see what their personal style is telling me and that helps me to see what they are into and it makes it easier for me to recommend something that they might be interested in and to try engage them in conversation, it’s a way to start.
FH: Final words?
TV: Stay tuned, big things are happening.