The Power of Doing One Thing Well

August 15, 2011 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

While roaming Seattle I stumbled into an AllSaints Spitalfields clothing store. The brand is clearly positioned for younger shoppers, which places it squarely in the competitive crosshairs of innumerable clothiers large and small. Behemoths like The Gap have a cadre of clothing brands and every big box player owns at least one casual wear brand. However, despite massive marketing among major category advertisers, honest and effective brand differentiation is rarely achieved. That’s what struck me about AllSaints. This quiet little brand is different. They’ve created a brand built on the concept of craftsmanship from the inside out.

I knew what AllSaints stood for the minute I walked through the door. The store oozes hip handmade British authenticity at every turn. The store is among the smartest merchandised I’ve ever seen. AllSaints starts with an unflinching commitment to expressing old school tailored craftsmanship. The brand’s philosophy for expression is to show instead of tell. To this end, they’ve incorporated enough vintage sewing machines into their merchandising scheme to outfit an Edwardian era seamstress shop. Full appreciation for the brand’s unique and convincing expression is only available to those who walk the floors of the stores. Fitting forms are used as clever stages for jewelry, and clothes are arranged on turn-of-the century style garment racks. The floors are wooden throwbacks to long-gone garment factories where everything was hand crafted according to custom patterns.

AllSaints isn’t just another brand with a retro paint job. I’m no clothes hound, but the company’s roots as a wholesaler to Barneys, Harrods and Harvey Nichols is evident even to me in their designs. And, if customers are left unconvinced as to the era while strolling through the store, the iPads used as merchandising and shopping tools at every turn will remind them of the date. AllSaints has taken a cue from Apple Stores and does a better job using technology to aid the shopper than any non-tech retailer I’ve experienced.

I’m a lover of pictures and words, but AllSaints speaks louder without them. There’s not a single POP display, tagline, or looped video reel to be found in the store. Music is another story. The brand has created an interesting link to another youthful passion, boosting its own relevancy in the process. In a partnership with MTV, All Saint’s The Basement Sessions project records and films aspiring musicians in a warehouse space below the company’s E1 London design studios. Of course, the content is available freely to those who join the list.

It all adds up to one smart brand strategy hand crafted through an abiding commitment to doing just one thing very, very well.


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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