Anext-gen leader is continuing the George Cleverly legacy.
1 Now that you’ve taken a larger role at the family-run brand, what’s the most important lesson your father has shared with you?
“He comes into the office most days and loves to see clients. For him, it’s never been about the money but always a passion for the business. He’s always had me focus on the product, fit and customer service. Do all of those things correctly and customers will keep coming back. I try to follow his advice every day.”
2 George Cleverly boasts a number of celebrity clients. What is it about the product that continues to interest them?
“We’ve always had a strong connection to Hollywood, from Cary Grant to Fred Astaire, and today attract even more from all different aspects of the world. Clients like Jason Statham, Sly Stallone, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and so on are very stylish guys, and they want the best. Once a person [rises] to a certain level, he learns about brands that are of high quality, and we’re easily found at that point. Plus, we’re a founding partner of Mr Porter’s ‘Kingsman’ apparel and footwear collection, inspired by the film, which certainly helps.”
3 Has the growing buzz around the British royal family increased consumer interest in heritage brands like yours?
“The young royals are doing a great job for British style and increasing awareness of British products, for sure. However, since the early 1970s, we’ve been using reindeer hides [recovered] from a brigantine 1786 shipwreck off England’s Plymouth Sound. The first pair of shoes we ever made it with was for HRH The Prince of Wales. He’s had them over 20 years and still wears them today.”
4 Who is your competition today in the upscale men’s arena?
“We feel we don’t have competitors. Most brands at our [level] are owned by big corporations. We’re 100 percent family-owned and -operated, which separates us from the rest. It’s important to be aware of the market but focus on our own service and products. I have so many styling ideas I want to work on and introduce that it takes all of my time.”
5 How willing are younger shoppers to trade in their sneakers for a pair of your polished brogues?
“We’ve found over the past five years that the average age of our customer is getting younger. We think it’s mainly due to the fact that gentlemen are starting to understand what true luxury is and wanting to invest in items that are not mass-produced. Owning a pair of handmade shoes, or something that’s made in very limited numbers in England, is luxury — not to mention timeless. With the rise of social media and access to [more] information, people are becoming more knowledgeable about [these] products.”