“Despite being 1014km apart (if you take the scenic route), the ethos remains the same – to sell nice things in a nice space to nice people.” The motto of Australian stores Somedays and Somewhere established in 2005 in Sydney and Melbourne is pretty clear-cut and most likely one reason behind their success. Additionally to selling Australian and international labels with a focus on Scandinavian wares, the stores double as gallery spaces supporting local visual artists. Owner Mattias Friberg talked to Sportswear International about the challenges of finding a retail niche and at the same time conquering the world wide web. Interview by Carolin Severin.

You did establish your stores in 2005, seeing a niche for Scandinavian brands in Australia. Is this niche still there or did you change your offer in any way?
The niche is definitely still there, it’s just a little bigger than it once was. Brands like Velour, Dr Denim, Cheap Monday, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Our Legacy and Whyred have established a strong presence in Australia and raised the profile of Scandinavian fashion. Every season, we make small changes to our offer but try to stay true to our roots.

With more and more people shopping online, what are the challenges for you as a retailer?
The increased accessibility to stores around the world definitely presents a challenge to all retailers. But it’s something that we have to take into consideration and face head-on. Retail is an experience, and we try to ensure that our stores offer a level of service that makes people enjoy that experience. Operating in Australia, it’s difficult to compete purely on price but that’s not really what we’re about anyway.
Somedays interior
Somedays interior

What do you do to distinguish yourself?
Our stores also operate as galleries and we hold regular events that allow us build relationships with our customers that are outside of the standard retailer/consumer format. Last year we also produced our first in-house magazine, which was a great way to show that we do more than just selling clothes.

In May of this year you decided to launch an online store called Someplace in addition to your brick and mortar retail. Why at this point?
It’s been in the pipeline for a while but we wanted to devote the time to make sure it was done right. It seems like a fairly simple task but I don’t think a lot of people realize how much work is actually involved. We spent a lot of time researching and looking at what others were doing well. It’s a real process and something that needs to evolve and improve over time, just like a physical store.

What are the differences between the online offer and in the stores?
We chose to go for a very simple and clean aesthetic online to let the products really speak for themselves, but the offering is essentially the same. We shoot all the products with full body shots and styled in a manner that we would wear them ourselves. The online retail space can be a little bleak at times, so we try to inject a little personality and humor where we can.
Somedays interior
Somedays interior

Apart from the online store – how important is a well-maintained website, blog and social media for you as a retailer?
It’s completely essential and it’s now become our primary means of connecting with our customers. It’s also a great medium for us to offer a story about what we do and the labels we stock. Technology is forever advancing and, in this business, you really have no choice but to embrace it.

So what are your well-informed customers purchasing these days?
For the boys, Our Legacy and Uniforms for the Dedicated were especially strong this season across shirting and knitwear. For the girls, local label Handsome was a standout with their cropped cable knits and Carly Hunter’s shearling vests literally flew out the door.

Which denim currently sells best?
Dr Denim has been a long-term and consistent performer for us and we’ve recently introduced Indigofera to our denim program, which has been gaining momentum. We’re definitely noticing a move towards more conservative cuts and washes among our male customers and the girls just seem to be going higher, brighter and tighter. Dr Denim have been running a great overdyed program, which is injecting a bit of color to our denim wall and performing really well.
Somedays offerings
Somedays offerings

How wintery is the stuff you are selling?
By European standards, it’s not all that wintery. We stock quite a wide range of knits and sweaters throughout winter, but our jackets are definitely on the lighter side. You just don’t get to wear out a big heavy jacket with our balmy 18 degree winter days.

You are just on your way overseas. Is there anything special you will be looking out for?
Anything that sparks our curiosity really, we try not to go away with too many fixed ideas. Although, a little Swedish sunshine and a good bottle of whiskey won’t go astray.