Aoki, a Japanese businesswear retailer that has built its brand on off-the-rack suits and shirts, is repositioning itself with the launch of an affordable custom suit business called Aoki Tokyo.
Aoki worked with Inamoto & Co, Party and Archicept City to develop the initiative. It was produced by DG Marketing Design. The concept is to offer quality tailor-made suits at a relatively low cost within a two-week timeframe.
According to Inamoto & Co, stylists take a customer’s measurements, which are then stored digitally for repeat orders. The company plans to speed up the initial process by using a 3D scanning system in the near future.
The Aoki Tokyo brand aims to channel the high craftsmanship and design values that people often associate with Japan. Its logo is a ‘T’ based on the formation of a tape measure in use. Inamoto said in a media release that Aoki Tokyo “infers a sense of quality and design aesthetics, tapping into the reputation of Japanese design and Tokyo cool that no other place has”.
The brand has two outlets in Tokyo, one in the upmarket Ginza shopping district and another in Ikebukuro, a less fashionable commercial subcentre. The retail environment is apparently designed to appeal to more discerning customers than those who might visit a regular Aoki shop, as well as a younger demographic.
According to Atsushi Muroi, the founder of Archicept City, the store concept “needed to be a step-up for customers in Tokyo with a keen eye for design. The space is designed to be aesthetically progressive but functionally rational”. He said additional touches include phone charging points for customers.
Campaign’s view: With the launch of Aoki Tokyo, Aoki is competing with companies such as the online retailer Zozo. The company last year began offering low-cost tailoring for suits and casualwear using a measurement suit to record dimensions (which has since run into difficulties).
Aoki's move is a bold one for a company known for supplying budget-conscious salarymen and new graduates with less-than-stylish attire for the office. It is indicative of increasing demand for personalisation among mass-market consumers, and of changing workplace norms that are putting pressure on the businesswear sector.
The merits of retaining the Aoki name are debatable: it is of course more difficult for a brand to move upmarket than vice versa. But the Aoki name is widely known, and retaining a reasonably low price-point means the concept has a good chance of appealing to some existing Aoki customers as well as new ones, provided the products deliver on their promise.