The first question I asked when stepping in as Fred Perry’s new brand director was, ‘Who’s the consumer?’” recalls Rob Gaitt, who joined the British heritage brand in June 2014. The ex-Dunhill man quickly came up with his own answer: “The Fred Perry following is tribal but diverse. The same shirt can be adapted by several different consumer groups and ages, and we want to celebrate this fact,” he says. Addressing a wide clientele can be a tricky proposition; hence, much of Gaitt’s strategic efforts have revolved around communications. “We’ve been finetuning the brand message, keeping it honest, emotive and simple with more focus on iconic pieces,” he explains. “We’re very lucky to have such compelling material to work with and it’s our responsibility to convey it in a considered, respectful way.”

Fred Perry’s new flagship store in the burgeoning menswear hub that is Covent Garden’s Henrietta Street was the first tangible project Gaitt sank his teeth into. The shop, which opened its doors in February 2015, serves as a perfect tool with which to illustrate the inherent qualities of the brand. “Internally, we spoke about a concept that felt a little like an independent record shop–a place where people hang out without feeling pressured to make a purchase,” explains Gaitt. To enhance the community feel, and underscore the brand’s long association with music, an original Wurlitzer Lyric jukebox is propped up against the wall, free for all to use. There’s also a “blank canvas” basement for events that add to the brand story. The buying is tailored to the area and the type of consumer it attracts. The Reissues collection, which centers on archive pieces and creative interpretations thereof, is the key line stocked. Menswear dominates the offer but a selection of womenswear and a few “mini me” pieces in children’s sizes are available, too. Architecture firm BuckleyGrayYeoman was commissioned to design the 2,000-sq.-foot. (186-sq.-meter) space.

Features such as exposed brickwork and a wooden wall based on the one hiding underneath layers of plasterboard pay homage to the original interior, while a display unit on wheels is modeled on the trolleys that were used historically in Covent Garden Market. Even the shop front has been upgraded with a leaded window that echoes the heritage of the store’s environs. Gaitt’s excitement about this particular feature is palpable. “We commissioned artisan sign writer Nick Garrett to hand-render the signage in gold leaf,” he enthuses. “The secondary font is inspired by that of the London Transport Museum, which is located in the piazza a stone’s throw away.” Fred Perry has no plans to adhere to a rigid retail model, but the latest London store sets the tone.

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Fred Perry flagship store in Covent Garden (London)
Fred Perry flagship store in Covent Garden (London)