True luxury is sipping single malt whisky in silk underpants, says Australian tailor
Australia’s luxury market is booming, but with customers more discerning than ever, what does it take to provide a high-end service that keeps people coming back?
Retail is big business Down Under. With an increasing number of luxury brands opening outlets around the country and with new ‘luxury-focused’ department stores strategically setting up shop in tourist hotspots like Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast, getting people ready to spend through the door has never been easier in Australia.
According to Deloitte’s fifth annual Global Powers of Luxury Goods report, there are a number of key trends that are dominating the luxury market globally. These include increased competition as the market continues to expand, an increase in the number of flagship stores providing new platforms for ‘aspirational shopping’, a rise in growth online and an onus on the ‘next generation’ of consumer, winning the hearts and minds of the social media set. All these factors are informing who wins customers and who loses them.
But according to Miles Wharton, co-founder of Bespoke Corner Tailors, which offers premium tailoring services to a demanding clientele, luxury means more than just big fronted stores, online shopping and hefty price tags.
“Luxury is above and beyond in every aspect,” he tells Robb Report. “Opening hours don’t exist. True luxury is offering your services at the client’s convenience, it’s their time. People are willing to pay more, but they want way more than what the average retail experiences is giving.”
Wharton, who started Bespoke Corner with tailor Rami Mikhail in 2015, operates two by-appointment-only stores across Sydney and Melbourne and has built a customer base that includes city bankers, creative executives, property moguls and Emirate Sheiks. By offering exclusive fabrics and personalised services, he believes that luxury is now so much more than big name brands.
“We have always looked to cater to a really select type of client. And they are demanding, as they should be. They want customisation. They want it how they want it and no excuses. And, they want it in an environment that suits them. For us, this commonly means taking fittings at their homes or offices, but we’ve also jumped into private hotel suites and even on the odd superyacht to get a measurement or two.”
Of course, quality is of the upmost importance. But, alongside whenever-wherever customer fitting services and regardless of stocking the world’s best fabrics, Wharton says luxury should go beyond that.
It’s always been a part of the luxury market for brands and retailers to have a personal relationship with their customer. Famed fashion editor Isabella Blow was on first-name terms with the likes of Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen and although she was more muse than customer, she commanded and demanded exclusive access to the fashion she purchased. But as fast fashion and high street sterilised elements of that relationship in favour of fast transactions, in some way we have lost that rapport. Wharton says that this relationship “is the luxury part” of their service.
“We’ll come to your house and look through your wardrobe. We’ll recommend custom items missing.” Wharton even keeps track of what his top clients do and don’t like and proactively recommends items when a new fabric arrives or when an idea just sparks into his head.
“For our top-tier clients, we go all the way. We pick cloths for our clients we think they might like before they ask. We send swatches in the post with hand-written notes. We spray them with high-end fragrances we think they’ll enjoy, which we also sell in store. We ring our clients. They know our voices.”
Always going above what is expected is part of what put the bespoke in The Bespoke Corner. And it’s not uncommon for clients to come in with items, trinkets and ideas they want incorporated into their suits and other custom-made items. From grandmother’s silks being made into suit linings, to broaches being fashioned into lapel pins and solid gold bars stitched into blazer pockets, no request is deemed too much or too outrageous.
“We had a Saudi client that flew in to Sydney,” says Wharton. “We were called in by the hotel they were staying at for a custom fitting and created five pairs of custom underwear garments made of silk. That’s new age luxury. It used to be defined by brand name but new age luxury is the tiny things. It’s how we treat people. It’s phone calls, writing cards, remembering someone’s birthday. It’s making silk underpants in the middle of the night.”