The address of Ted Baker’s first store in Amsterdam has been confirmed by retail property company Vastned. Located on the bustling shopping street of the Leidsestraat, the retail unit at 64-66 is the ‘ideal location’ for the label debut flagship store in the Netherlands.
Vastned is currently renovating the property and restoring the building’s characteristic façade for the store’s opening, slated to occur after the summer.
“Ted Baker's flagship store will increase the attractiveness of the Leidsestraat; a street where Vastned owns five other premium city high street shops. Strong retailers contribute to Vastned's objective to realise more stable and predictable results,” commented Tace de Goort, CEO of Vastned in a statement.
“It’s a bit like speed dating isn’t it?” questions the man closest to Ted, Raymond (Ray) Stuart Kelvin CBE during the launch of ‘Ted Baker goes Dutch’ in premium department store de Bijenkorf, located in the heart of Amsterdam. Greeting everyone in the room with a hug and three kisses on the cheek, the founder and CEO of Ted Baker reputation for enjoying a bit of fun precedes him. “Hi, my name is Ray and I’m single. I like long walks on the beach, watching the sunset and romantic comedies. Do you have Tinder?”
In spite of his cheeky sense of humour and witty smile, the reason behind Kelvin’s 24 hour visit to Amsterdam is part of Ted Baker’s continual global expansion scheme. In the run up to the opening of Ted Baker’s first standalone store in the capital of the Netherlands, set to occur during the second half of this year, the British label has teamed up de Bijenkorf to launch a series of special in-store events running from April 20 to May 10, dubbed ‘Ted Baker goes Dutch.'
'Ted Baker goes Dutch' with de Bijenkorf prior to stand alone store opening
“The taste levels between Holland and England are quite similar,” explains Kelvin during a talk over scones. “The Dutch love color. And I adore color, I like strong colors and I want people to feel independent and free, and not to feel miserable. We are very famous for our colors and prints, so I think that will work very strongly for us here.” The collaboration comes three years after Ted Baker first opened a series of shop-in-shops in de Bijenkorf, with the first opening in Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam followed by department store locations in Utrecht, Amstelveen, Eindhoven and Maastricht as well.
“De Bijenkorf is a sister store to the UK’s Selfridges, where we are very successful and a leading brand, so the relationship was already there.” Since launching its concession stands, local interest and appetite has grown for the British brand, which first began as a shirt specialist store in Glasgow in 1988. “We will be opening our own store in Holland, here in Amsterdam soon, which will definitely help expand the business here. We have a space where we will be opening, but I don't know the address. But it will offer the complete Ted Baker range.”
What the new store’s interior and layout will look like is anyone’s guess, although Kelvin admits he is “very into interior design” at the moment, as each store the brand opens is distinct. “We have always resisted being a chain - we have always worked to be independent, so I do not ever want to get to a size where we would want to replicate everything. Every store we have is different and suits its surroundings. The Leeds store is different to Manchester, we do not ever use a ‘roll out’ store format, like larger chains do.”
Despite Ted Baker currently operating over 400 stores and concession stand worldwide in 33 countries, Kelvin keeps his head in the clouds and his feet on the ground. “We are a global brand, we sell our wares all over the world and are probably in the region of over a billion pounds in retail per year, and I still talk about Ted Baker like it is a small business. But it has grown into a very large and important global brand. But since I only started it from my front room, I still see it as a small business.”
Ted's formula to success: “The secret of fashion is to lead, not to follow. But never lead too far.”
Kelvin claims that part of the reason behind Ted Baker’s success stems learning the secret of fashion from the man himself, Ted, who has been described as ‘a collection of worldly experiences.’ “The secret of fashion is to lead, not to follow. But never lead too far.” His love for fashion and design stems from his childhood, although he adds that ‘sex’ was also a big influence. “I realised to meet pretty girls you have to look good and dress well,” he says with a wink. His family ran a clothing business and Kelvin used to work in the stores and visit the factories, from the tender age of ten. “So I basically grew up in the business. And I just loved styling and color - even interior design. From a very young age I was always painting my bedroom walls - my parents were actually quite concerned.”
His love for design and color is evident throughout the brand, another aspect which sets Ted Baker apart. “Ted Baker is for anyone who is interested in quality and design, which isn’t particularly generic,” he points out. “We do not design following a formulation, we design with a lot of feel. If you look at a lot of businesses today, they are department item led. You have your polos, your denim, shirts and all sorts. We flow a lot more and work in a collection form. We design our collections as a top-line designer would, but then we retail that. So there’s always an influx of new products in store. Everything has very much a free hand.”Speaking of free hand, Kelvin insists that his Head of Menswear design, Steve Lemmon comes and sits with us. “I love him. I have known him a long while.” The exact amount of time turns out to be close to 14 years. Although Kelvin works with over 400 people in Ted Baker’s head office alone, he makes a point of getting to know each employee. “Ray is really involved in everything we do,” explains Lemmon. “He comes down everyday and always wants to see what new things we have or what we are working on.”
Ted Baker is "always looking to 'keep things fresh'"
“It evolves all the time. We are always looking to ‘keep things fresh,’” adds Kelvin, which is partly where the idea for the brand’s ‘T’ for Tall range came from, which was introduced last season in the UK and is currently available online. “Oh, that will do well here,” he muses. “Let me tell you where the idea for the range came from. My very close friend, Mark Forster, who is the world champion swimmer, is a very tall guy. Everything on him is just slightly too small or short. So I said I would make him some clothes.’ But then I thought, well hang on a minute, there must be a lot of people like Mark. And that’s how ‘T’ for Tall was born.”
“I like independent clothing which allows people to feel comfortable in their own skin.” Together with Lemmon, and the rest of the 40 plus design team which make up the menswear arm of the label, Kelvin aims continue offering such clothing, for men and women alike. “We love clothes, but we always have to make sure everything we design is wearable, even if it can be a bit on the flamboyant side,” adds Lemmon.
“My job really is to make sure everything looks Ted Baker. You can easily go in a different direction and end up with something else, but Ted Baker is all about the detail, down to the color of the thread used to sew the button onto the pocket of the jacket. It’s all those tiny, little things and touches which make up Ted Baker and give an item personality.” Ted Baker also translated this to its digital marketing campaigns, and for its collaboration with de Bijenkorf has launched ‘Brain Art,’ an innovative digital concept which allows users to create art by wearing a special headset that conveys their brain waves through infinite color patterns.
“To me, Ted Baker is a good quality brand with sense of fun - I think that the fun has a humor about it as well,” he continues. “Ray loves color and uses it whenever possible. Everything has a sort of fun and positive vibe to it and I think that is what customers are drawn too. Making sure he finds the fun in every circumstance possible, Kelvin innocently questions “Have you pulled Steve?”