Continuing with our customer profile series, Martin our wholesale agent visited our good customers Maze clothing in Bristol. We sat down with owner of the family run business, Glenn Vaughan and daughter Hannah to find out how he got to where he is today and why he stocks Oliver Spencer each and every season...
So Glenn, how did you start out?
"I left school at 15 and started in April 1968 at a company called 'James' which was a formal wear shop but they had another shop called 'James for younger men'. I was a junior, 15 years old, and I worked up to opening 6 shops with the owner over the course of 17 years and then went and did it myself."
Do you have any morning rituals for getting dressed?
"Not really; (laughing) well, its normally a question of which Oliver Spencer shirt I’m going to put on! No I’m quite boring in that sense and I’m very hands on down here, I can still be doing a window or emptying the boxes etc."
Do you always wear the merchandise you carry?
"Always yes, I always wear the product in store. The amount of times I’m asked where the item i am wearing is from - It is great to be able to say that we stock it in the store.
When did you first encounter Oliver Spencer?
"We’d known about OS for a long time, right from the beginning. But we were a different shop at that point. At the point we changed the store we introduced OS … and it was the shirts we started with and the shirts we can’t fail with. We have a great shirt business overall and Oliver Spencer has been there from the very start."
Do you have a favourite OS piece?
"My wool Portobello Jacket is about 3 or 4 years old, I love this garment and more importantly I feel comfortable in it. It’s the same with the shirts and I can wear it for 4 or 5 years, I love the feel of it when it’s almost aged, you know?"
What do you do in your spare time?
"I love gardening - I’m a fan of Arne Maynard (garden designer) he’s a customer of ours. We like not particularly ‘flowery flowery’ gardens but more green with quite a lot of topiary, that sort of thing. So it’s quite structural; but you can probably get that feeling from our whole business, our office here has a similar aesthetic."
What do you think of the New AW18 collection?
"Generally, very pleased with it and like that fact I’m seeing cord again. Moleskin is another fabric we’ve picked up on generally and have bought into. Mainly I look for the interesting fabrics, I start with the shirts with Oli’s clothes, I always start there. From there it’s what works with the collection where I can build a selection from. There are times when I can buy lots of fabric options and it’s great!"
Do you enjoy the buying process still?
"Yes, the experience of it is more important than just buying clothes. Each season that we buy we are trying to portray the whole idea of what the company is and what it stands for in the clothes made by designers we love. Now you get it all the time with companies trying to be ethical but I like Oli’s personal touch; He does not think he’s above anyone and he’ll still come to the showroom to say hello. That’s his nature, his personality. He’ll say hi and ask how you are and want to know what’s worked last season"
Question to Hannah (Glenn's daughter and buyer at Maze) - Is maintaining a level of fun possible in the current climate?
"Absolutely, I think it’s necessary. I think you have to put some personality into your store, otherwise what reason do you give to your customers to come to you. You have to have an element of that. I’m lucky in that I’ve inherited my parents’ taste so there’s not been a conflict of interest when we buy [for the store] we’re very sure of our vision for the stores; it is crucial when buying coherently across the brands we stock. Sometimes you do have to be brave enough to try some of the more interesting pieces, otherwise things become too flat. It becomes formulaic otherwise and nobody wants that"
Photography: Reece Straw