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CONTENTS 4 Introduction 4 Methodology 5 Dries Van Noten 6 Whistles 7 SWOT Analysis 8 Product 8 Consumer 9 Perceptual Map 9 Price 10 Place 11 Promotion 12 Endorsement 13 Conclusion Appendix Consumer Moodboards Packaging Moodboard Promotion Moodboard 18 References


This report shows my research into the brands Dries Van Noten and Whistles, which are in different sectors of the UK fashion market, and suggests a way in which the Whistles brand could expand to keep up with its current competitors. The report will look at the brand’s history, current place in the market and the opportunity that lies in its expansion into another clothing line.

To research the brands I looked at books as well as personally visiting the stores, visiting their websites and social network sites, and speaking to current consumers. I chose to do a short personal interview with a customer and potential customer, (see moodboards 1 and 2), rather than conducting research with a survey, in order to ensure that I got my information from the correct group of people and that the information I received was detailed. I used reports from Mintel and Key Note to research Whistles’ place in the fashion market and also the current menswear market in the UK.


Dries Van Noten’s debut collection was bought by Whistles in London in 1986. In an interview for Fashion Makers Fashion Shapers by Anne-Celine Jaeger he says “I always aim for the idea of elegance without ostentation” and “what might be considered beautiful today should also be beautiful in five or even ten years time” and his collections show this with their simple timeless look. The Whistles brand line makes similar use of prints and simple classic styles although it fits into a different market sector, (Dries Van Noten is premium whereas Whistles own branded items are slightly lower at the upper end of the middle market sector – a bridge between high-street and designer). Dries Van Noten also differs from Whistles in having a menswear line as well as its womenswear.


Whistles was founded in 1976 and sold clothes by designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano and the aforementioned Dries Van Noten before its own brand label was created. It was bought out by Richard Caring in 2001 and became part of the Mosaic Fashion Group in 2004. At this time the brand was struggling to keep a relevant brand identity in the changing market and in 2006 Amanda Burrows became brand director and began to restore the traditional heritage of the brand. In 2008, Whistles was taken out of the Mosaic Fashion group with Jane Shepherdson becoming Chef executive.

Now the brand is becoming a strong competitor in the market, benefitting from Kate Middleton’s endorsement, (alongside Reiss and LK Bennett), and Jane Shepherdson’s brand-revival talent - previously demonstrated in her transformation of Topshop. It is a good time for the brand to develop further and Shepherdson herself said to

Drapers Magazine “The brand has also developed a significant international profile this year, and we are now investigating further opportunities around the world”. As the brand is expanding globally and becoming more significant, it may also be wise to expand in other ways in the near future.

Whistles is more in need of development and has better opportunities than Dries Van Noten currently, and so the following sections focus on creating a new product range for the Whistles brand. 6  



Improved brand identity with Jane Shepherd as chief executive. Brand history and reputation. Fashion forward. Position in the market - bridge between high-street and designer. The Kate Middleton effect.

Struggled with brand identity around 2004 and suffered losses financially as a result. Slight loss of original success and reputation. Does not offer as great a range of products as most of it’s competitors. Lack of advertisement.



Menswear Childrenswear Beauty Home ware Different age range collections Global expansion Developing ad campaigns

Competitors with a wider range of products. The current economic state making customers less willing to spend above average high-street prices.


Whistles currently only sells womenswear, leaving plenty of room to expand their product range (as shown in the opportunities section of the SWOT analysis). Menswear is the most logical route for the brand to take in this expansion however it’s success would depend on it fitting a similar brand handwriting to the womenswear and targeting the correct group, as well as adhering to the traditional Whistles values that brought it’s original success. A marketing report from Key Note, (Clothing Retailing – the 2011 edition edited by Sarah

Walker), says that opportunities lie in menswear as “Sales of women’s clothing continue to dominate the market”. The report also suggests that “Many trends focus on the younger consumer but there is significant opportunity – and space in the marketplace – to target and dominate the older generations’ clothing niche, especially as the UK demographic becomes more aged.” So a new menswear line should continue to target the 30-35+ customer group rather than the younger under 30’s consumer in order to fit the space in the market place that it’s womenswear line currently shows success in. Targeting any older generations than this would be less in keeping with the Whistles current style and the way in which it currently differs from its competitors in the market, (Reiss, Ted Baker etc.), whose styles are more formal, business-like and better suited to a slightly older market (late 30s-40s).

According to Key Note’s market review (Clothing and Footwear Industry 2010), “The UK market for menswear is benefiting from the popularity of quality smart-casual clothing”. The menswear range should therefore fit the smart-casual trend, which is most likely to appeal to the target customer. Choosing the correct consumer is key to delivering a successful product, the clothing range should be more appealing to the target market than the brand’s current competitors, offering a cooler, more effortless look to the 30s male than it’s competition while still producing a high quality of clothing. The Whistle’s potential male customer is someone who is interested in fashion, as they would have to be willing to pay a little more than they would at most high street brands. 8  

Dries Van  Noten

High Price

Hugo Boss Reiss Ted  Baker



Fred Perry Jack  Wills Levis Younger  Consumer

Older Consumer



Topman River Island

Primark Low Price

This map shows the position that the Whistles menswear line would fit into on the market in relation to other popular menswear clothing brands. The line should be similarly priced to the womenswear range, which is a little higher than most mid market brands but more affordable than designer. Prices should be similar to those of the brand’s competitors but perhaps slightly lower in the beginning in order to attract the new customers to choose Whistles over other high end - mid market chains.

The brands competitors include Reiss and Ted Baker, who currently have the advantage of an already well-established menswear line. The key to these brands’ positions in the market their offer of high quality, fashionable goods at a more affordable price. In particular the price should be suited to the 30-35+ consumer who wants quality but is perhaps put off by the slightly more formal and highly priced clothing of Whistles’ competitors Reiss and Ted Baker. 9  

The menswear line could be given a small section of the current womenswear stores to begin with and perhaps its own store in London, in which the clothing could officially be launched with an event to raise potential customer’s awareness. Once awareness of the menswear line has increased stores could begin to stock an equal amount of menswear and womenswear, however some of the current stores may have to move to a bigger premises in which to do this or keep the lines separate and open another similarly priced and sized store located nearby in which to exclusively sell menswear.

Selling the two lines together would be best suited to the target consumer as couples are likely to want to shop together, and so allowing them to each buy clothes from the same shop may encourage more people to go there. Furthermore, as the brand’s womenswear is already popular and has a loyal female customer base, if the menswear were to be sold in the same area then awareness could be raised in male consumers through their partners.

Whistles is also sold as a concession in many department stores, currently with 58 concessions, which is more than the 37 of its stores. As well as it’s own stores, Whistles clothing is sold at: John Lewis, House of Fraser, Selfridges, Harrods, Fenwicks and on Therefore the brand could also look into having concessions for the menswear line at these retailers.

The clothing should also be sold on the online store so that it would be immediately available to customers not located near a store. An online launch is a great way to raise awareness for the line and according to a report from Mintel, (Fashion Online-UK-March

2011), “The online fashion market is estimated to see sales increase 12% to £4.8 billion in 2011.” In order to be successful Whistles must keep up with the changing market and as the ability to shop online is becoming increasingly important for todays consumer they cannot afford to miss out on the sales they could make online. 10  

The brand currently does little in the way of advertising and as the SWOT analysis on page seven shows, this could be seen as a weakness and effect the brand’s status and popularity. The new line will definitely need some element of promotion to let potential customers know it exists and encourage them to shop at Whistles rather competitor menswear brands. As Whistles does not advertise currently they should perhaps keep the campaign for the menswear simple and stylish. The email newsletter offered by the brand would be a way of notifying current customers of the menswear range and could offer some sort of reward offer to customers who introduce a friend or partner to the brand, informing people of the new line by word of mouth, which would be in keeping with their low key attitude to promotion currently. The brand also promotes on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter (to 6,560 followers), which would an effective way of letting a lot of people know about the new range immediately.


ENDORSEMENT Celebrity endorsement would also perhaps be a good way of getting men interested in the brand and making it appeal to them, however as they currently keep their promotion quite simple a smaller up and coming celebrity may be more effective and in keeping with the Whistles style and tone than anyone constantly in the spotlight. One of the brands Youtube campaign videos

Jack Huston by Chritophe Kutner for Flaunt magazine

would be an ideal way of involving this celebrity in the brand, with them modeling the clothing.

A possible face for the line could be actor Jack Huston who will turn thirty in 2012 and could be an ideal representation of the target Whistles male. Having recently appeared in the blockbuster Twilight: Eclipse and HBO’s television series Boardwalk Empire, he has two further films lined up for the near future and so timing could be perfect for him to be seen in connection to the line just as he comes into the radar of many potential consumers. He fits the style of what the menswear line should be to be successful, and is someone that the customers the line would target could both relate to and admire.


In this report I have identified that menswear is a realistic possible development for Whistles. However, it would need a strong target market of 30-35+ males and competitive price point in order to be successful. Clever promotion is also important as Whistles advertises very little at the moment and in order to sell menswear they would first have to make male consumers aware of the brand. Menswear may be just what the Whistles brand needs in order to keep up with its competitors which already offer it and with the right promotion and a slightly lower price and targeted age group could mean it’s success over other menswear clothing that fills the gap between highstreet and designer.

Word Count: 1881



If it  would  be  targeted  at  a  30-­35+  customer ,  and  the  brand  offered  current  customers  special  discounts  for  introducing  a  friend,  would  you  be  more  likely  to  recommend  it  because  of  the  offer? Definitely, I’m always looking for discount codes and offers as the brand is a little too expensive for what I can afford sometimes.

If Whistles  started  a  menswear  line  would  you  recommend  it  to  your  friends? I would probably mention it to a couple of people, it depends who it would be targeted at.

Do you  currently  shop  at  Whistles? Yes I buy a lot of my clothes from there.

Female 38 years  old


Do you  find  there  are  enough  high  quality  but  suitably  priced  clothing  brands   for  your  age  group? I think it would be good if there were more, I like the quality of the stores I currently shop at but sometimes the style is both too formal and too old for me or too young and casual, something in between would be ideal. idea

to the  brands  you  currently  shop  at  would  you  be  interested? Yes I probably would want to know more about it.

If they  were  to  produce  a  range  of  clothing  for  men  at  a  similar  market  level  

Have you  heard  of  the  brand  Whistles? Yes my partner shops there sometimes.

Where do  you   currently  shop? A range of places, shops like Reiss and Ted Baker when I can afford it and I also buy some clothes from Levis if I need something but can’t afford to spend a lot on it.

Male 36 years  old




DRAPERS., 2011. Whistles Returns to Profit Amid Turnaround Drapers, 30 September. [Online], Available at: [accessed 8 December] JAEGER, A., 2009. Fashion Makers Fashion Shapers. 1st edition. London: Thames and Hudson. KEY NOTE, 2011. Clothing Retailing [online]. Available via: Key Note [Accessed 3 December 2011]. KEY NOTE, 2011. Clothing & Footwear Industry [online]. Available via: Key Note [Accessed 2 December 2011]. KUTNER, C., 2011. Jack Huston [Photograph]. Flaunt Magazine. MINTEL, 2011. Fashion Online [online]. Available via: Mintel [Accessed 3 December 2011]. VLAMOS, Y., 2011. Dries Van Noten, Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. [Photograph]. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 6 December.] VLAMOS, Y., 2011. Dries Van Noten, Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. [Photograph]. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 6 December.] WHISTLES, 2011. Autumn/ Winter 2011campaign. [Photograph]. [Online]. Available at: /large/look9.png [Accessed 6 December.] WHISTLES, 2011. Autumn/ Winter 2011campaign. [Photograph]. [Online]. Available at: /large/look2.png [Accessed 6 December.] WHISTLES, 2011. Autumn/ Winter 2011campaign. [Photograph]. [Online]. Available at:

[Accessed 6 December.] 18  



Whistles Report  

Report on the opportunity for Whistles to expand into menswear

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