Hackett Hits Brussels

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Together met the fashion expert to discuss the recent opening of a Hackett store on Boulevard de Waterloo in Brussels, and the future of the brand.

So, tell us a bit about Hackett’s history?
Hackett: In 1979, my friend Ashley Lloyd Jennings and I owned a shoe shop, which we had opened in an area filled with old warehouses. While it was a lovely little outlet, it was all we could afford at the time, and it eventually turned into a vintageclothing company. It proved so successful, we eventually thought: ‘Why not expand?’

What has been central to your success down the years?
I’d like to sit here and tell you that there was a business plan, but there really wasn’t – we could always see what customers wanted. We catered to their needs, and things just fell into place. I think one of the keys is, no matter how good the clothes are, if you don’t give people good service, it’s irrelevant. I think that men in particular appreciate good service, because they are often in a hurry. All they want is efficient, straightforward service. We have really nice customers and we look after them. Of course, the clothes have to be good too. I would say also that I am focused on what I like and how I like things to be. In England, there is an expression, ‘stick to the knitting’, which means stick to what you know. Rather than try to be all things to all men, this is what we do and this is how we do it. Our customers have a clear vision of what Hackett is, and that helps us too.

What has been your greatest achievement, do you think?

I think our opening a store on Sloane Street was a pretty major thing – it showed that we had become a ‘grown-up’ business. We already had our little shops, and that was very nice, but when we came to Sloane Street, suddenly we weren’t just a group of small outlets – we had become a brand, and people started to take notice.

And your toughest trial?
In late 1991, we opened a shop in Boston. A great customer of ours was a developer, who was building some outlets there. We got carried along, and it was very romantic and we all believed Boston would be great, but we never really had things right. It cost us a fortune, and that was tough, but also a good learning experience. We won’t make those mistakes again.

How long have you been planning to open a shop on Boulevard de Waterloo in Brussels?
This shop had been in the planning process for about a year – we had been thinking about it for a long time, the opportunity came up, and it was an excellent fit. It’s a good address, a good location and a good street. We’ve already done well with our Knokke store, so that prompted us to open one in Brussels.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to have a nice house in the country, not too far from London. As for Hackett, we’re just getting started in Japan, and we have businesses in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Mexico. We’re growing but, at the same time, I think it’s still a fairly niche brand, one that won’t be on every high street in the world. I think America will be our next big push. We’ll open a shop in New York, and this time we’ll do it properly.

Hackett Brussels
Boulevard de Waterloo, 16
1000 Brussels
T. +32 (0)2 502 73 24