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The One Brand Rushing Into the Mall While Others Flee

Indochino wants to open over 130 stores over the next three years — in malls.

Indochino store located in Ottawa, Canada’s Rideau Centre
An Indochino store located in Ottawa, Canada’s Rideau Centre.
Photo: Indochino

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The mall has not been a friendly place to brands this year. There’s a long list of them, including Wet Seal and The Limited, that have closed many or all of their stores in the mall, and we’ve talked at length about why. Low customer energy around malls and a loss of “anchor stores” results in less foot traffic, which, obviously, means less sales. So then why is made-to-measure suit brand Indochino putting forth a bold and ambitious growth plan that centers around the American mall?

It’s like watching The Blair Witch Project and then planning a camping trip — it defies good sense. But the failures of other brands isn’t stopping Indochino, which hopes to bring its total number of retail locations to 18 by the end of the year (there are currently 10 Indochino “showrooms,” as the brand calls them), Glossy reports. Sure, that’s reasonable enough, but phase two of Indochino’s strategy is what will really make your jaw drop. The suit brand aims to open a total of 150 stores by the year 2020. If Indochino start with 21 locations in 2018, it’ll need to open 132 over the subsequent two years to hit this total.

Why This’ll Blow Up in the Brand’s Face

C’mon, guys, be reasonable. This sounds like the resolutions I make drunkenly every New Year’s Eve: I’m gonna start exercising daily, call my mom more, and open 137 retail locations in American malls over the next three years.

There’s a reason Indochino has all those deserted storefronts to choose from: Brands have tried this strategy — opening stores in larger markets before expanding aggressively in malls — and failed. Uniqlo hoped to open 100 stores, mostly in malls, over the span of a couple years. Instead, they closed several of the initial stores and set a much lower bar.

It’s also just not very cool to be in a mall anymore. Kids find malls to be extremely boring, and that stink can be contagious.

Man in Indochino suit Photo: Indochino

Why This’ll Actually Be Extremely Good

On the flipside, not all malls are failing. Luxury malls are actually doing well in the current climate, and Indochino is well aware of that. “We’re not expanding blindly,” Indochino CEO Drew Green told Glossy. “We want to eventually get to 150 stores, and I think we can get there by working with top-tier malls.”

If you’re known by the company you keep, surrounding yourself with luxury mall brands — Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dior, etc. — isn’t a bad way to elevate yourself.

Plus, Indochino, which provides made-to-measure suits starting at $400, makes a tricky product for an online-only enterprise. The company sees retail locations as customer “acquisition” centers. Shoppers come into the showroom and, after familiarizing themselves with the brand, are that much more likely to buy online. Green tells Glossy online sales are expanding at double the rate in areas that have a physical Indochino store.

And that might be because guys still don’t have many reliable and affordable options when it comes to buying a suit. Many dudes still don’t know where to go beyond a Men’s Wearhouse. There is a need for a mainstream suit brand with an actually nice product, and if Indochino can steal Men’s Wearhouse’s clueless customers, they’ll be in great shape.