Vancouver-based custom suit maker and menswear retailer Indochino is looking to open more permanent brick-and-mortar locations, after seeing tremendous success with its physical stores. We spoke with Indochino's co-founder and CEO Kyle Vucko to discuss how the online retailer's operations have benefited from a physical store presence.
Mr. Vucko founded Indochino with a former classmate in 2007, seeking to create affordable, custom-designed men's suits. The online company's concept involved men submitting measurements, then receiving custom-tailored garments several weeks later. Beginning in 2011, the brand experimented with a number of pop-up locations, finding men to be receptive to the temporary bricks-and-mortar shops.
Indochino learned that many men prefer face-to-face retail experiences, including being professionally fitted and being able to feel fabrics and other samples. Furthermore, men shopping in-store tended to buy pricier suits than those shopping online.
Seeing the opportunity to build lasting relationships with a wider variety of customers, Indochino opened its first permanent retail space in the fall of 2014. Measuring over 4,300 square feet in Vancouver's Gastown area (deal negotiated by Cushman & Wakefield's Boe Iravani) , the store was an immediate hit. Successful pop-up shops in Toronto led to the recent opening of Indochino's second permanent location in that city. Measuring about 4,000 square feet, the Toronto store is located at 143 King Street East in Toronto's St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. Over 30 custom options are available, and there's a dedicated grooms' lounge featuring a foosball table and Nespresso bar. Avison Young's Hilary Kellar-Parsons represented Indochino in negotiating the Toronto deal.
Mr. Vucko said that part of the reason the company is opening permanent retail spaces is to create a convenient and comfortable 'space' for men to come back to repeatedly, be it for modifications/alterations or for more clothing. Indochino's new Toronto store is located a convenient walk east of the city's financial district, and Mr. Vucko noted that future Canadian locations should ideally be similarly conveniently located. Stores are unique, however, in that they operate more as showrooms -- rather than carrying stock, men select fabrics and get measured in-store during 60-minute one-on-one appointments, with each made-to-measure garment delivered about four weeks later. Purchases can be delivered to the store for a second-fitting, if desired.
Longer-term, Indochino is looking to possibly open permanent stores in Ottawa and Calgary, as well as possibly a second location in Toronto, according to Mr. Vucko. Men in Toronto wear more suits than in any other Canadian city, hence warranting a second space. Indochino will continue to test individual markets before making permanent real estate decisions, he said. Generally, Indochino seeks retail space in the 2,000 to 4,000 square foot range, depending on space configuration and location.
Mr. Vucko also revealed that he's looking to open permanent locations in a handful of American cities. He says that the company currently doesn't have an ultimate goal as to the number of locations it will operate, as it likes to 'test the market' before making any major real estate decisions.