Melbourne men’s fashion label Peter Jackson will splash up to $16 million in the next 15 months to build a network of up to 55 stores on the eastern seaboard.
The Australian gentlemen’s outfitter has spent about $8 million this year on a big push into Sydney, opening six new stores. By Christmas, there will be another two stores.
It’s a big investment at a time when many fashion businesses are fretting over cautious shopper sentiment and gloomy global conditions.
Market research suggests worldwide sales of men’s fashion have spiked by 70 per cent over the past two decades.

It’s the fashion territory between prestige and the fast fashion pedalled by global giants such as Zara and Topshop’s Topman.

Men’s fashion growing globally

Retail Doctor Group’s Brian Walker said market research suggested worldwide sales of men’s fashion had spiked by 70 per cent in the past 17 years.

He said men appeared to be more brand loyal than women and were getting into fashion at a younger age than previous generations.
“Men are much more interested in the way they look today and they want to make a statement about their individual style,” Mr Walker said.
In 2008, before Australia was hit by the global financial crisis, Peter Jackson was drawing up plans for a bold new national business.

The product line was tweaked to embrace the casualisation of the workplace and men’s fashion. However, in late 2008, the economy stalled.

It was terrible timing for the 70-year-old Melbourne label but the family business pushed ahead with plans, taking advantage of the new economic conditions to negotiate better property and supply agreements.

There is a ‘buzz’ around

Creative director David Jackson, who is the great-nephew of the menswear label’s founder, said people suddenly wanted to know the company. “There was this buzz around us. We were not only refitting our existing stores, we were looking to open new stores,” Mr Jackson said.
Fast forward seven years, and Peter Jackson is well on the way to replicating its Melbourne operation in Sydney.
“Sydney made sense to us because there was no one doing what we did in a vertical capacity,” Mr Jackson said.

“We produce as well as retail, so we control all the production.”
Peter Jackson mills all fabrics in Italy and most of the garment production takes place in China.

As the Australian dollar declined this year, Peter Jackson leveraged strong relationships with fabric manufacturers in Europe to renegotiate contracts and keep a lid on costs.

Family funds expansion

The investment in the expansion of the Peter Jackson retail network is being funded by a combination of cash from the business as well as funds from the family.
By the end of 2016, Peter Jackson expects to have 50 stores in Australias and 55 by 2017.  At that size, the business is likely to hit the private equity radar. It wouldn’t be the first approach. However, it’s not the end game for now and neither is a public float. That was not to say it couldn’t happen down the track, Mr Jackson said.
At present, the focus is on the vibrant menswear market, which has grown at a similar rate to womenswear for the past two years.
Men are investing more in their wardrobes, thanks to retailers like Peter Jackson, which have shown young men how sharp accessories and suit pieces can be combined with casual classics like denim to create a more refined leisure look. It’s a casual approach but with a tailored edge.
Mr Jackson said men were looking for those special details that gave their style individuality. “It could be a vibrant pocket square or a co-ordinated belt and shoes,” he said. “Anything that brings out the personality of the garment.”
Meanwhile, Spring-Summer 2015 at Peter Jackson takes its design cue from the sun-kissed pastels and bold prints of 1960s Palm Springs and a major television campaign has kicked off to drive interest in the new Sydney stores.

First published through Sydney Morning Herald on October 11th 2015