New arrival Masons signals game-on in Melbourne luxury menswear

Luxury menswear mainstay Harrolds faces competition from a new competitor with intimate knowledge of its business.

By Steve Colquhoun 20/06/2017

It’s game-on in the luxury menswear space in Melbourne’s CBD with the arrival of a new competitor for the decades-old Harrolds department store.

While the venerable Harrolds has held court in the dress circle at the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street since 1985, recent arrival Masons is two blocks distant on funky Flinders Lane, a thoroughfare with a rich history of quality tailoring and an up-and-coming reputation in a city that prides itself on its laneway destinations.

While Harrolds stocks big European luxury brands such as Tom Ford, Stefano Ricci, Sain Laurent, Balenciaga and Thom Browne and has recently expanded into womenswear, Masons has set its sights exclusively on men, targets a wider spread of ages, and stocks more niche luxury brands such as Isaia, Alyx, Slowear, Resolute Denim and Corneliani.

Harrolds prides itself on providing superior service and Masons is following suit – not unexpectedly, given that Masons general manager Marco Siracusa worked for around 25 years at Harrolds before a recent parting of ways presented him an opportunity to develop his own concept.

“The philosophy is going back to old-school retailing where service was a really big part of the business, it was all about when the customer came through the door, the customer was the most important thing,” Siracusa says.

“Our service element, we pride ourselves on that, from the minute you walk in there’s a drink offered, whether it’s whisky or coffee, and then we also do the in-house styling, anything to do with the gentleman’s wardrobe, right through from the streetwear element through to modern class and right through to classic.”

A more modern, youthful vibe is evident at Masons, especially in the front room where upmarket streetwear lines the walls and adorns mannequins. A whisky bar presents a tempting segue as you pass carefully selected accessories and fragrances on the way to a more contemporary second room set with racks encompassing dress codes from smart casual through to formal. Siracusa says this two-room set-up will entice fathers and sons to shop together and share their retail experience.

In spite of many similarities with Harrolds, he is adamant that his Masons concept brings something fresh to the luxury menswear table.
“They (Harrolds) bring in the big brands, and customers want the big brands and they do a good job of it. But we’re different,” he says.

“We want to bring men in a new direction, with brands that are up-and-coming, brands that are not necessarily hot, to give that different look. Our focus on the brands is really important, to bring in the right products at the right time.”

After being Melbourne’s premiere luxury menswear retailer for decades, Harrolds recently added a womenswear department to encourage couples to shop together. “We are thrilled to be in a position to offer Melbourne the finest curation of international luxury fashion for women following the success of the current menswear store that has been on Collins Street since 1985,” Harrolds marketing director Mary Poulakis said at the launch of the redesigned store.

Siracusa takes a different view. “A lot of men at this level don’t like to shop with their wife. The customer that doesn’t like to shop with his wife will shop here,” he says.

“Menswear stores have always been around, and if you look around the world, they don’t mix men’s and women’s in the one floor. I believe that for women and for men there needs to be a level of intimacy, it needs to be private in both experiences.

“I believe that competition in the market is good for all of us, it makes all of us better and the more we have the better it is. The pie is big enough for everybody.”

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