Before Chiltern Street became a London hot spot for the posh set, Mats Klingberg, founder and managing director of Trunk Clothiers, set up a 500-square-foot store in 2010 in the quiet residential neighborhood just north of bustling Oxford Street.
The store soon attracted a following with its mix of artisanal and under-the-radar brands. It didn’t hurt matters any when hotel magnate André Balazs opened Chiltern Firehouse in the neighborhood three years later, which drew an A-list crowd.
That same year, Klingberg outgrew his first store and opened Trunk Labs to house footwear and accessories.
With his obscure brand mix fused with a service-oriented mind-set, Klingberg has fostered a cozy retail environment, drawing in customers from around the world to see the latest treasures that he has unearthed.
“I’m always looking for new things and brands that have interesting stories to tell,” said Klingberg, who stocks under-the-radar-brands including Whitehouse Cox, Comoli, Scye and Ichizawa Hanpu. “That is what feels great to me. It feels good to be able to have them in the store and give them exposure. These are brands you don’t see in other shops and don’t have big sales teams that are focusing on the global stage. As soon as I bring something in, others will pick that up as well. So I’m constantly on the lookout for new ones.”
Best-selling brands today include Boglioli, Incotex and the store’s own private brand, Trunk Clothier, a range of men’s wear essentials that launched last fall and immediately became one of the top five performers. The collection includes button-down shirts, sweaters, chino trousers, scarves and alpaca throws. The price range is 105 pounds, or $149, for a scarf to 340 pounds, or $483, for an alpaca throw.
“That is something that we want to grow because it has been really well-received from our customers,” he said.
Those customers generally are not all that keen about shopping, so Klingberg seeks to make the experience as “easy and enjoyable as possible. That is why the environment we try to create is not a traditional shop. We really want our customers to feel comfortable and relaxed. We [want] to build long-term relationships and at the same time, we try to inspire them and show them some new brands that they haven’t seen before.”
Klingberg noted that his well-educated and career-oriented shopper is “not really into just getting the latest, coolest new item from the runway. He doesn’t really care too much about that. These people want to be well-dressed, but a bit more understated and not too shout-y.”
Knowing what his customer wants has also helped Klingberg increase his sales by 35 percent a year since opening — success he attributes to the personal service he provides.
“I think in a lot of other shops these days, it can be really a really intimidating and daunting experience,” he said. “You have to approach it in the right way to get customers to feel interested and welcome and well looked-after. It might not make us the coolest kid on the block, but that is not who we want to be.”
Now Klingberg is on the hunt again for a larger space. He will probably remain in London, although he said he’s keeping his options open.”I want it to be something that feels true to Trunk and quite genuine, and not on the main drag. I wouldn’t want to go into a mall or anything like that.”
He also wants to significantly increase his own private brand. “I want to take the store brand to up to 30 percent of the mix. I’ve been around for over five years getting established, so it’s the right time to do it.”