With a rapidly changing retail landscape, Ben Sherman is not resting on its laurels. The British heritage brand has taken steps over the last year to focus its branding and product offerings, signing a new deal with Team GB for next year’s Summer Olympic Games and relaunching its collection in the trade show circuit.
Ben Sherman is most excited about its newly-focused brand messaging. The iconic signature logo is back after a seven-year hiatus and will be found on key looks across the collection. “The brand had a lot of crossover and duplication when it came to which logo we used across our product categories; we needed to consolidate,” says Mark Williams, Ben Sherman’s creative director who’s been with the brand since 2006. “That notion that brands needed to differentiate each subset line are no longer relevant. It’s just not how customers are shopping, and it was causing confusion in the marketplace.”
Talbot Logan, who oversees the global Ben Sherman business as senior vice president, brand management at Marquee Brands, adds, “For us to have a singular point of view helps from a business perspective because we would have somewhere around 580 SKUs (not all of which would get bought) to now we are coming to market with 380 SKUs. So, we’re being more efficient. We got over SKU-ed and it was hurting our abilities to keep our costs to where they need to be.”
Both Williams and Logan note this new branding will roll out for the spring/summer 2020 collection, which takes inspiration from 1960s recording studios—from their textures and patterned prints, musical equipment and the iconography of album covers and the retro styling aesthetics of various British musicians. Staple outerwear silhouettes are reinterpreted with updated fabrication and treatments, such as the technical fishtail parka and the signature waxed Harrington jacket. Preppy boating-blazers and mod stripe details are used in color-block sweatshirts and crew-neck short-sleeve tops. Elements of streetwear such as the quarter-zip front tricot top and striped rugby shirts are also present.
One thing that will help Ben Sherman market this new brand vision will be its deal with Team GB for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The British heritage brand has signed a new multi-year agreement that will see it appointed as an official supporter and apparel provider to Team GB for the Tokyo Games as well as the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The brand will create exclusive looks to be worn by the British athletes during the official Olympics opening ceremony as well as additional lifestyle apparel for retail sales that will launch in May 2020.
“It’s a real honor to be tasked with designing the collection,” says Williams. “We will use the brand’s heritage, authenticity, and aesthetic excellence to inspire the very same athletes who inspire us with their dedication and sportsmanship. The design elements will hold true to the spirit of the Olympics and Great Britain. We want the athletes to feel an immense sense of achievement and unity while representing the nation during the Opening Ceremony.”
Fans will be able to purchase an exclusive capsule collection that will be available at Ben Sherman standalone stores, online and at select retailers. Since the British Olympic Association receives no annual government funding and is reliant on private and corporate sponsors, proceeds from the sale of the Ben Sherman official Team GB apparel will support British Olympians.
The partnership will be the second time that Ben Sherman has been appointed to work with Team GB having provided official outfits for the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games. “From the beginning, the Ben Sherman brand has always been about inspiring each of us to be the best we can be, which is why working with Team GB makes perfect sense,” adds Logan. “Team GB reminds us to believe in the extraordinary ability within each of us. In addition, Ben Sherman has always taken pride in our history of celebrating music, culture, and sport.”
Another key initiative for the brand is reopening its flagship in London. At the heart of the 1,000-square-foot store at 50 Carnaby Street remains the brand’s shirt wall, featuring a cornucopia of Ben Sherman shirts. Neon target design accents and contemporary elements give a modern boutique feel to the store.
“Refitting our flagship store represents a new chapter for the brand following the announcement of our partnership with Team GB alongside our retail growth across Europe,” mentions Logan. “The UK continues to be one of our strongest markets so it’s only fitting that we enhance our flagship in the capital.”
As part of its expansion into the U.S. market, both Williams and Logan are excited to be participating in American trade shows for the first time to showcase footwear and apparel from the spring/summer 2020 collection. The brand will be bringing a small piece of London to Liberty Fairs in Las Vegas with elements like an original London taxi.
“We haven’t participated in U.S. trade shows in a few seasons, but now we’re feeling confident with our new singular collection and marketing message,” adds Logan. “Part of it is about seizing a moment where everything is clicking. Now’s the time.”