Talking shop with Tom Bodaly

We're not going to lie - business has been tough as old boots since we last went into lockdown so it has been an unbridled joy to see our stores open once again. Lockdown was a challenge for myriad reasons, but there were also plenty of positives to pull from it. Right in the middle of it all was our General Manager Tom Bodaly, who has a unique perspective on all facets of the business, so we caught up with him on the eve of opening our stores to pick his brains about the lessons lockdown taught us, the future for menswear, retail, and Oliver Spencer. Over to Mr Bodaly...

Tom BodalyHow was life during lockdown for Oliver Spencer? What were the biggest challenges or surprises? 
From a professional perspective I'd say that the outcome has been largely positive. I really enjoy new situations; learning from them and working with the team to overcome the challenges we face – I think it’s fair to say that we've had a few so far this year! From Brexit to store closures we've had to evolve the way we work as a team to deliver our brand and our product to our customer. In September we re-platformed our website and took the opportunity to assess our customer journey and look at the ways we could improve it to bring our product to life.

"I'm looking forward to actually seeing our customers and our neighbours! I love our Lambs Conduit Street friends – you can pretty much fulfil most of life’s desires here!" 

Our process has always been very physical and tactile, which is why we have stores because it’s about the sensory experience – the way a garment feels when you try it on, the new playlist we’re listening to in the shop or what’s burning on the incense burner – they all make you feel a certain way, and the challenge for us has been to engage those senses without having a physical environment! Whether it has been improving the product photography to show off design details and fabric texture, to launching a remote personal shopping service for our customers shopping online, to identifying a visual tone of voice that feels native to our brand – it has all been challenging and full of surprises!

BLENHEIM JUMPER
SIDNEY ECRU/NAVY

RYDE BOMBER JACKET EDEN TOBACCO

RYDE BOMBER JACKET
EDEN TOBACCO

What were the biggest business lessons you took away from lockdown?
Don't be complacent! There is always scope for improvement, wherever you look. A business like Oliver Spencer has a lot of moving parts, which in itself offers a lot of opportunities to optimise and evolve.

What are you looking forward to most about reopening the stores?
I'm looking forward to actually seeing our customers and our neighbours! I love our Lambs Conduit Street friends – you can pretty much fulfil most of life’s desires here! There’s great food, wine & cheese at Noble Rot and La Fromagerie, you can get your haircut, you can do your grocery shopping, you can buy something for your Mum, your partner – all whilst you wait for your bicycle to get serviced. You can even organise your burial with the funeral directors at A. France & Sons! It’s a great example of the modern high-street for independents and boutiques – convenient and innovative but not overcomplicated.

Tom Bodaly
Do you think loungewear was a lockdown ‘moment’ or has menswear shifted to a more casual aesthetic for good?
In a nutshell, yes it was a moment but much like most trends that have emerged over the last 12 months they will inform how we blossom out of this. Tailoring has always been at our core and continues to be. Our customers are simply finding new ways to incorporate into their wardrobes which is really interesting to see. It wasn't that long ago that you would have been laughed out of town for wearing sneakers with a pair of tailored trousers - the codes are always evolving. 

LAUREL JACKET EVERING TAUPE

LAUREL JACKET
EVERING TAUPE

CONDUIT T-SHIRT WHITTLE YELLOW

CONDUIT T-SHIRT
WHITTLE YELLOW

How do you see men dressing for the summer now that pubs and restaurants are back open?
Everything is going to be an occasion! Whether it's enjoying that first cold pint at the pub to watching your best mate getting married this summer, I think we want to dress optimistically – we want to feel good and we want to look good. I think we’ll see people dressing for the occasion; lots of colour and pattern but in looser, more casual silhouettes. One of my standout pieces from the Spring collection this year is the Solms jacket and judo trousers in Kingswood Green – it’s a bit of a Swiss Army Knife; it kinda does most things you need it to!

Tom Bodaly

"One of my standout pieces from the Spring collection this year is the Solms jacket and judo trousers in Kingswood Green – it’s a bit of a Swiss Army Knife; it kinda does most things you need it to!"

SOLMS JACKET KINGSWOOD GREEN

SOLMS JACKET
KINGSWOOD GREEN

JUDO TROUSERS KINGSWOOD GREEN

JUDO TROUSERS
KINGSWOOD GREEN

Did Oliver Spencer’s approach to design change during lockdown?
No, our philosophy is still the same. If anything it has driven us to be even more aware of what we produce and why.

What’s in store for the summer at Oliver Spencer? 
We’ve got a couple of things that we’re working on launching over the next few months. We’ve just developed a capsule collection with Mr Porter which launches later this month, then our Summer collection launches in May. We’ve got a special collaboration with a big sportswear brand with a tonne of history that launches in July (mentioning no names!) and part two of our Brompton collaboration comes out in September. It's going to be a really busy couple of months but lots to look forward to!

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