Tailoring trust across the Tasman

During its 150 years of operation, tailored menswear company Cambridge Clothing has remained resilient against economic forces and adaptive to new trends. The Cambridge Clothing team revealed the secrets behind the brand’s enduring success and how DHL Express has helped them lead across the Tasman.

Can you tell us what Cambridge Clothing is about and the services offered under your labels?
Cambridge Clothing is a men’s tailoring company specialising in suit jackets, pants, shirts, ties and pocket squares. Across our four brands – Cambridge, Joe Black, Gibson and Dom Bagnato – we offer a wide range of style and size options.

Our relationship with our customers is long-term. In tailored menswear, customers tend to stick to a certain brand they trust and continue to purchase it for years to come. With this in mind, we extensively train our salespeople to be the best in the field, to really listen to and understand the customer.

Cambridge Clothing has a long and successful history as a trusted brand. In recent years, what growth has the brand experienced?

In 2017, Cambridge Clothing will celebrate 150 years of successful operations. Our long history begins with the arrival of the Scots-Irish Macky family in New Zealand. Following their arrival, the family soon began manufacturing and selling men’s clothing designed for braving the tough New Zealand conditions.

Following the Great Depression, the family assessed the company’s product offerings and sought to move from their rural roots to produce suits for a growing urban market. This move proved to be a success, and by the 1960s the company was a market leader in New Zealand. In the 1970s, Cambridge Clothing expanded its retail reach into Australia.

In more recent years, we have experienced significant growth across both Australia and New Zealand, and now hold substantial market share. We have grown through retail expansions in department stores such as Smith & Caughey’s, Ballantynes, David Jones and Myer.

Who is your target customer and what do you believe attracts them to the brand?

With Cambridge Clothing’s four distinctive brands, we cater to many of the needs and wants of the menswear market. We offer high-street menswear for 20 to 65 year-old men.

Our customers choose us for our personalised level of customer service and the flexibility of our product ranges.  They often come to us for garments that serve two main purposes – either tailored garments for work or special events such as weddings.

All our brands have an extensive size range and function on a ‘separates program’, meaning that all suit and pants sets are sold separately to provide the customer with the flexibility to mix and match to achieve both their preferred style and fit.  In offering garment tailoring, we can ensure our customers leave with both confidence and the best fit possible.

Where are Cambridge Clothing’s goods manufactured?

Our garments are initially manufactured in China, Indonesia and Thailand. From there, they are transported to our New Zealand warehouse facility for re-pressing and tailoring before being distributed to our retail network across Australia and New Zealand.

What opportunities do the Australian and New Zealand markets offer, and how has the brand capitalised on these?

For many years, the Australian and New Zealand markets have offered great opportunities for Cambridge Clothing. Seasonal variation between the two countries means we can offer a diverse range of product fabrics and styles. We have grown to become a leading player within this industry segment. The high quality of our products, customer service and affordability has made us stand out among other international brands.

In New Zealand, our brands have widespread wholesale representation across the country and are present in department stores Smith & Caughey’s in Auckland, Ballantynes in Christchurch and David Jones in Wellington.

We operate across multiple channels in Australia, including four direct retail stores for Joe Black, a multi-brand DFO in Victoria, and concessions in both Myer and David Jones stores on top of our extensive network of wholesalers.

How does Cambridge Clothing adapt to meet consumer demands and changing trends?

In recent years, we are increasingly having more of a dialogue with our customers. Through understanding what they want and building a customer profile, we can analyse changes in tastes and ensure that we evolve to meet the market’s needs.

Tailored menswear is an industry that does not experience trend changes as often as general fashion, and our customers often come to us for suit jackets and pants that will last longer than one season.

Where we really see fashion trends reflected is in the choice of shirts, ties and pocket squares. Jewel-toned shirts and pocket squares have become a way to bring personal style and colour to an outfit. As men have started to choose a more casual tie-less look, pocket squares have become an opportunity to add colour to an outfit.

There are also distinctive style differences between the Australian and New Zealand markets. New Zealand is generally a more conservative market and experiences more seasonal extremes than Australia. Here we offer garments suited to the New Zealand winter, including a heavier weight of cloth like tweed and a greater range of warm outer coats.

Our Australian customers seek trans-seasonal garments, so our heavier fabrics popular in New Zealand are not well-suited to this market. We can sell more bold fabrics and colours in Australia, and events like the Spring and Autumn Racing Carnivals have popularised bold outfits across this market.

Recently in Australia, men’s suiting is seeing a move away from traditional navy colours to brighter blues. More customers, especially in our New South Wales and Queensland markets, are choosing to go lighter and this is likely a reflection of the weather in these locations.

How has DHL helped you to tailor your delivery solutions to get the best results for both the business and the customer?

Our products strongly sell on their visual appearance, and keeping them wrinkle-free is important.

Hanging garment deliveries are difficult to deliver in great condition, as they must pass through a network of distribution points before reaching the customer. When our garments arrive at our New Zealand facility from Asia, we work to re-press everything before distributing the goods out to our retail network across Australia and New Zealand.

Delivering these hanging garments in wrinkle-free condition has taken a lot of focused effort by the entire DHL Express network. The team at DHL has responded to these challenges, and has developed a series of delivery solutions that are specially tailored for our differing customers’ individual needs.

To conclude, what part has DHL Express played in Cambridge Clothing’s enduring success?

Each time a customer comes into one of our stores, we are laying the foundations for a relationship that could span over 20 or more years.  Growing that relationship with the customer means delivering high quality garments and our personalised service every single time.

DHL Express has played a vital role in helping us to ensure our customers receive our hanging garments in a variety of settings quickly, and in great condition.  They have worked with us as a true partner and have consistently helped us to keep our promises and deliver extraordinary levels of service.

For more information on Cambridge Clothing, visit www.cambridgeclothing.com

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