In honor of a certain Irish-based holiday on Thursday, this Shop Class spotlights Indigo & Cloth, one of Dublin, Ireland’s best independent menswear stores, which was founded in 2007. Its assortment is a stylish pot o’ gold of quality international brands that range from Gitman Vintage and Oliver Spencer to Sandqvist, Saturdays NYC and Sunspel, and it offers international shipping for online orders. The space, at 9 Essex Street, also houses a company-run branding studio and café. Owner-founder Garrett Pitcher recently gave me the story of this Irish treasure….
What is the background and history of the store?
I worked in the fashion industry on the wholesale side before opening the store, which allowed me to travel quite a bit. I would see all the brands at the trade shows and the stores in other cities and wondered why it did not exist here in Dublin. I called the store Indigo & Cloth to represent a focus on well made clothing and craft.
How large is it?
We moved into Essex Street about three years ago; it’s four stories so quite big. The café is on the ground floor with some lifestyle goods, menswear on the first floor and the studio on the top two floors.
What are your bestselling brands and specific items at the moment?
It can change but right now Our Legacy is a standout. It sells well across all styles but it seems like every piece is a key piece these days. I have a real love of denim (hence our name) so personally I’m excited about the Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1966 501 style we took in this season. Norse and Portuguese Flannel are always strong performers too.
How would you describe the store’s overall vibe, look and product selection?
The vibe is very easy going. I like to think that we look after all the details in the background so when it comes to the shopping experience it’s very chill. We have a café in the store too which helps slow the shopping process for many of our customers. I find people are more comfortable with their choices and us as a result.
Who is your “typical” customer?
The dreaded question! We get all sorts but it tends to be a guy or girl who’s simply into nice things. The place looks good, the coffee tastes good and we stock good brands. Who knows, maybe it’s that easy!
How would you describe Dublin’s fashion scene?
It’s about average. People are so much more educated with social media, travel and e-commerce but it has not resulted in a big demand for better places to shop. As a result, it’s heavily high street in ladies’ wear and mass fashion brands in menswear. You can see how it will take a leap with the next generation but we are not there yet.
What came first, the store or the branding agency? And how has having the agency made you a better retailer?
The store came first though I was always doing something agency related for those first couple of years. The agency grew out of the store so it has always been our image builder. Having the agency allows us to be that bit more creative and adds to the brand as a whole.
What special services does the store offer?
We offer everything you would expect of an independent store. Our level of service is important to us and we see it as a point of difference. We are happy to go out of our way. I guess having a good coffee to hand doesn’t hurt.
What has been the best part about running the store thus far?
There are two things that come to mind. Firstly, the great people I have met. I must know half the city by name or face at this point and have made some close friends through the store too. The other thing is looking at customers’ faces that come into the store for the first time.
And the most challenging aspect?
We got hammered in the recession. We had three months before it hit where I thought: this may just work. It took six years to feel like we got through it and there was little we could do about that. We did open an agency and coffee shop and I wouldn’t swap it out now.
How much of your business is done online versus the shop itself?
Five percent We have a huge focus on it going forward as its will be important in how we grow the business. We know we have an international market there, which is great, but we have been very focused on our own premises up to now.
What sets Indigo and Cloth apart from other retailers?
Our experience. It’s something we really focus on. We operate from a beautiful building and have three parts of the business all under one roof. Its creative every day whether we have a new grind on, a new brand in-store or a new client. I think people feel that energy under our roof and hopefully a little online too.
What’s next for the store? Will you open additional locations?
We are coming out the other side of plans so nothing imminent other than more presence online. We may look at another café/store if the right spot opens up next year. We have a concept in mind.