Coggles: Selling Style For Four Decades

December 11, 2012 BY CAPSULESNEWS

Since 1974, Coggles has been the quintessential British fashion retailer, selling a mix of top fashion brands, as well as emerging designers and rare international labels for men and women. The shop, which is based in York, now has 3 bricks and mortar locations in the UK, as well as a very popular e-commerce site, an online street style photo archive, and carries over 200 brands, as well as a well curated lifestyle section featuring books, music, vintage, bike and home wares. What’s with the store’s name? As the story goes, founder Victoria Bage caught her husband having an affair with his secretary. She promptly divorced him and named the store after the secretary 'Sarah Coggles' to remind him of the mistake he had made. We checked in with Adam Jagger, buying director of Coggles, to learn more.

Tell us about Coggles. The store was launched in 1974 and has managed to remain super relevant- trend setting even – for close to 40 years. How do you manage to stay ahead of the curve?

It’s quite easy really – we are not afraid to take risks. One of the first things I was taught was more often than not the first thing to sell is the trickiest piece.

You've been working at Coggles for most of your fashion career – starting when you were 16. What do you love most about being a retailer?

It’s great when you buy something first and it really takes off. Often they are gambles and sometimes you question yourself but hopefully most of the time they pay off.

What are you looking forward to for SS13? Are there any particular brands or trends you’re excited about?

We are developing the deconstructed tailoring look paired with top tier sportswear.

I imagine you do a fair amount of travel for your job. What city is inspiring you right now? And why?

I have to say Paris still. It’s always a really clean aesthetic but certain areas of the town challenge that look and it works really well.

How would you describe the current state of menswear?

Transitional. We are struggling to drop the heritage trend or remember that it never really goes away too much either. Both are fine.

What are some driving trends in women’s fashion right now?

It seems that footwear and accessories are the biggest department by some way. The sportswear look is coming through strong as well.

Tell us about your online business- how do you interact with your customers and keep them involved in the store? Where does most of your clientele come from?

Coggles is quite unique for having an equal 50/50 split of male and female customers. That’s a great strength but it also presents challenges, in terms of how to market effectively to both. There’s a big emphasis on creating content right now: our street style has been tremendously successful at raising awareness of the Coggles brand while at the same time delivering engaging content to our customers both on and across our social media. The redesigned site represents a much more effective platform for selling product and also delivering engaging and original content through the LIFE section – Bikes, Music, Travel, Fashion features and so on, so this is the focus for the year ahead, as well as expanding upon the 35% business that is already generated from international markets.

What’s selling now?

Everything. It’s Christmas.

Coggles carries a great array of vintage clothes for men and women. Where do you find it all and what are some best selling types of items right now?

We work with several different suppliers from several different cities in the coolest towns from everywhere. We showcase some really amazing archive stock and really cool one offs…

Coggles' home offerings are a great complement to your clothing offerings. Tell us more about why you think selling homewares makes sense for a fashion boutique like Coggles.

Home is a key area of focus for 2013, it’s going to be significantly expanded and we will be working with some of the most respected names in interiors. Coggles has always viewed fashion in its wider context and we feel it’s all the more relevant when sitting alongside music, art, books, bikes, furniture, and so on; it seems natural to extend this proposition to our customers.