There was a huge deal when Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) came to town. Topless models clad in nothing but jeans lined the store during its opening. One might say that Jack Wills is the British equivalent of A&F, although, their executives loathe the comparison.
Far from having a store dipped in pungent perfume, and perfectly-chiselled models that greet you at the door, we are seeing something more refined and inclusive. Here we were, at the Jack Wills launch party that strives to keep the audience constantly engaged via tattoo spray-painting, live drawing stations and an interactive photo-booth.
With the Union Jack blanketing its floors and a signature pink-navy blue stripes adorning its walls, we see a revival of the Brit-prep style. Jack Wills has defined itself as an “up-market, niche and premium brand”, and as co-founder Peter Williams tells FT they “have no interest in the mass”. More keen on word-of-mouth marketing and viral growth, we are curious to see what plans Jack Wills has in mind, to rival existing British brands such as Topshop, Warehouse and Miss Selfridge that have a rather firm foothold in the Singapore fashion market.
Strategically located near Singapore Management University, Jack Wills caters to teens – something the 2 co-founders know so well, and speak fondly of, since their brand vision was rooted in community and a collegiate spirit. Wanting teens to discover their brand themselves, Jack Wills is cognizant of the power of social media in the 21st century. The focus is not on pin-up models of god-like equivalence, or overly-perfect marketing advertorials (we all know that avant garde, shapeless top only looks good because it’s on Kate Moss) – but on getting media influencers to have fun at their events, and spread the word of their brand from ground up. Their deliberate passive, non-marketing strategy is borne out in their “Seasonnaires programme” – simply put, a well-paid internship that allows its influencers to travel and host parties on behalf of Jack Wills.
Will such a marketing model work in the Singapore context? We are not clarivoyants, but we warmly welcome an injection of liveliness into our fashion retail scene.