I went to Jacket Required last week, I thought it was awesome.

There was a tight registration set up, a guy named Phil working for Jacket Required was hustling like hell and sorted me out with an entrance.

I told him “I’m probably going to annoy you, I do not work for press, I don't have a retail set up and I didn't register online, but I did co-found the cold water surf brand Finisterre and wanted to pop in and say hello to a few friends exhibiting,” and he replied short of breath, “I understand, it would be great to have you here, go ahead”.

I thought Phil was awesome: you rocked Phil, definitely a keeper.

I decided to walk around the show (at The Old Truman Brewery) and I genuinely felt the vibe. People were pumped, there were many of them, it felt like brands and fashion had the wind back in its sails and it was well organised – a gentleman’s nod to Mark Batista, Craig Ford and the team around them.

As I said above, the primary reason for me going was meeting friends who were exhibiting, but there was something else I wanted to get from the show. I wanted to introduce myself randomly to the people on the stands that caught my attention and ask them two simple questions:

  1. What has your sales growth been like online?
  2. What do your internal ecommerce teams look like, in order to help grow online sales?

For the first question, almost all of them said that it was all about growing doors, that’s where they were seeing sales and getting traction.

For the second question, many of them said that they have been slow on the ecommerce side of things. They have tried to build it with agencies and external teams (which hasn’t worked at all), so now they’re building their own teams internally and they feel like they’ve got a long way to go, but it’s the right step.

The answer to the first question did not surprise me so much, opening doors shows commitment, eases cash flow, validates the brand, gets you in front of people. But the response to the second one did. Growth of online sales over the last five years has been totally ridiculous, the ability to communicate with customers and use technology to better understand them is out there and it sounded as if many of the brands in there, were moving on it slowly.

Once I did my rounds, I went on to the sites of the brands I had spoken with, in order to compare what they were saying to what they were doing online. First impressions; I saw a lot of SALE, 50% off; I mean it was literally the first banner on the site, which despite summer sales being in full swing, it did spin me out a bit.

Then I thought about the brands we were working with, all growing at solid rates online and went straight to their sites i.e. Flatspot, Millican, L’Estrange and others, to compare messaging and SALE was the last thing you saw. Instead there were banners conveying the brands clear positioning, why they do what they do and strong commercial messaging – they looked proud and tight.

This is not solely down to what we’re doing with them – the brands and the people within them deserve everything, but I will say that understanding your actual customers, is an incredibly powerful and fundamental thing to do.

We have identified their top customers, who they really are, their deep feelings towards the brands they love, images of their customers, their lives socially and the brands have taken the insight on board and are spinning strategy with them in mind and solid growth has been the result.

Jacket Required knows their customer, you could feel this at the show and what it was offering was clear and relevant. I guarantee the feedback from this years show will sound something like – “great show, coming back next year”.

The real question is, if the brands under The Old Truman Brewery roof were asked – “who buys your stuff?” would they be able to answer that question clearly, with conviction and Uber like accuracy? I’m not so sure.

Jacket Required was really good – great people, great brands and an exciting time ahead for the brands that were there and beginning to look at growing their businesses online.

Some brands I was feeling for sure: 

Kestin Hare

Home Core

J. Lindeberg

Hartford

Penfield

Alvarez&Moixonet

 

Nodus

and a magazine and it's creator, that I bumped into and have been feeling for years.