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JACK WILLS STORY the

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“So, what is this Jack Wills?” Jack Wills is now a brand that it recognised by many; the infectious name has left many wondering, “Who exactly is this Wills? And why are they everywhere?” Co-founders Pete Williams and Rob Shaw, in the quaint tourist area of Salcombe created the Wills brand in 1999. Salcombe itself is a coastal town just south of Knightsbridge, placed in the west county of Devon. Once the gap in the market was established, both Williams and Shaw materialized their niche brand into a quaint corner store on the local shopping establishment of Fore Street. A mere fifteen years later, the flagship store has now inspired a populated many stores in and around the UK as well as global ventures in Hong Kong, Middle East and the USA. The brand name is often seen as the most viable and important asset to any brand, it remains necessary to find a name that is easily mem-

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orable and tangible for the consumers. The co-founders grand father Jack Williams inspired ‘Jack Wills’ the name, once a small town name is now globally gratified. The old-time symbolism as well as the sentimental value of the name will always warrant a truly British feel as well as that honest connection to English heritage.

“heritage and thought process that is woven beyond the name” Though the company’s success may seem as like an economical fluke, the success of the company is due to a highly driven team of experts that have excelled the company from strength to strength. This includes a dedicated marketing and financial team to establish the grounds for development, alongside the help of a motivated promotion team to spread the brand through the community. Thanks to the social media team, seasonairres, employees and regular city competitions, this has been possible. The company’s increased franchising have challenged the view of whether the company is ready for global success – as proven by the initial flagship store, the brand has only one motive “you will only know until you venture”. Taking the company to three central stores in Hong Kong, four in the Middle East (including two in the financial capital

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Dubai) and a total of thirteen in the United States. The national expansion is possibly credit to the power and influence of the brand, enough so that people of different cultures are able to translate the characteristic of the brand. The brand prides itself as being the “university outfitters”, aiming towards its target market of university students. This scope for the university life style is often seen in British culture as the era of progression, hence the combination of this era and the targeted brand equalises to mass development. However, the reality of the current state of economy is leaving society to feel under pressure and un-willing to spend expansive amounts of money on clothing. What seemed like a necessity is now quickly being translated into a rare extravagance. Student Sophie Drake shared her view “I love their stuff but its crazy money, ‘university outfitters’ is a message but university students can’t afford product due to high end prices”. student demographic, this anything from 16-24 year olds. HowAs well as this, Jack Wills pro- ever, for the customer base this is vide the sporting kit for the Ox- merely a number. When the brand ford and Cambridge University is introduced to acquaintances, Rugby clubs. The sponsorship family or relatives the age brackpromotes the varsity matches et is broken down. For instance, and the teams through the mar- teenagers are fascinated with keting of the brand. This collab- the name of the brand – forever oration has received some neg- purchasing pieces with the JW or ative feedback in the respect Jack Wills decals on the products. that the brand image clouds the In juxtaposition, the older demopurpose of the games. graphic is more inclined to liken the brand is because of the heriThe target demographic for tage and thought process that is the brand is based around the woven beyond the name.

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JACK WILLS

co l l a b o r a t i o n s The increase in brand awareness has made Jack Wills much more socially established. However the question remains; how can the brand excel further? Well this has already been considered, researched, developed and implemented onto the shop floor. Jack Wills' collaborations with other organisations have developed a powerhouse of influence for both companies. Collaborations for company's have become a cult transition of establishing the brand in the current climate, as mirrored by the JW brand, the importance on this step is the difference of making your brand fully aware or diminishing the reputation completely. The first notable collaboration with Jack Wills is with the Liberty Art Fabrics of who have created a one-off print to be implemented on a selection of the JW's pieces. The print is an exclusive print designed solely for the brands endless use during the spring collection. Made up of illustrative flowers and splashes of blue and pink; the teamed colours known to recognise the Jack Wills brand. The Liberty Art Fabrics more known for being at the centre of original fashion and fabrics based on London's Regent Street, in 1911 Liberty was the first department store to import a vast and exclusive variety of products from a worldwide basis. Becoming the original source of collaborations, Liberty became rapidly skilled at pulling in national ele-

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ments like Persian rugs, African instruments, Indian furnishing, and working harmoniously with the unique British fabrics. Hence, if you join both equally recognized brands to a mutual collaboration then the British influence will be a work of art. The Jack Wills website boasts fact such as “our print is named after Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish's daughter, Delilah”, “these florals are as British as you can get with English daisies, bluebells and primroses” and a quote from English poet and literate Oscar Wilde “Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper”. Though the rising collaborations raises the question of whether this is taking away from the true essence of the store, customer of Jack Wills, Jill Hamer adds “the collaborations simply add the versatility of the brand”. In addition to the Liberty collaboration, Jack Wills have also recently joined forces with the charity Malaria No More. The collaboration was gradually introduced with only two accessory items to the reoccurring lines, including a woven scarf and two variations of the Malaria No More bracelets. The bracelet costs a mere five GBPs with a guarantee that 100% of the proceeds will go back to the organisation. The bracelets are hand made in Africa and then distributed to all Jack Wills stores, taking prime place on the JW serving counter the bracelets are a great way of customers buying the Jack Wills name with knowing that all of their money is going towards a dedicated charity. Since the products were launched for general release in 2011, the bracelets alone have said to raise a total of £145,000. To date, the collaborations with Jack Wills are continually increasing the success of the brand by broadening the market and distribution. Find out more about Jack Wills store collaborations at www. jackwills.com

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Jack Wills was a brand that I had never given a second thought, throughout my time at college at King Edwards VI Stourbridge; the Wills t-shirts were dotted all around the campus. Though I became confused why these items were being sported by many of my peers, subconsciously I was becoming more aware and familiar with the brand. This instantly drummed my own preconception of the brand and automatically steered myself away refusing to adhere to a popular brand. Instead I routed for its American competitors Hollister for its easy going style of clothing and adaption to the American lifestyle, referring often to the surfer-pacific personal the antithesis of life in the West Midlands, though more a memory of a happy recollection. Before achieving the position I applied at the Birmingham Jack Wills twice before receiving the call by the assistant manager to

attend a group interview. Within a matter of a week in early December I applied, attended the interview, received the position and commenced my first shift in retail after a mandatory induction. At this point I was pleased for the position, though still not fully sold on the brand – it was a seasonal position after all.

“My preconception had changed�

came easier to adjust to the employee lifestyle. In addition to this, I found myself becoming more admirable of the clothing and inevitably the brand. The dedication of an employee to the Jack Wills brand enables one to appreciate the quality, thought process and originality of the items that are neatly presented throughout the shop floor, permitting a love for fashion and branding in a completely different perspective. My preconception had changed.

My first shift at Jack Wills was massive culture shock; within the first twenty minutes of my four-hour shift I was left wondering if this was right for me at all. The endless responsibilities, newly introduced standards, manic Christmas shoppers, stock room dashes, clothing tags whilst constantly in attempt to impress and make a respectable impression. As the days and the weeks quickly passed, it be-

I found that the brand had an array of various items that had surpassed the Wills t-shirt that instigated my prejudgement. This working in close reliance with the commitment by Jack Wills to assure every element of the Brand experience is British based, from the furniture in the store, to the playlist selected to set the misen-scene in store. Thus the justification for the prices that initially scared me away from the brand had been validated by this assur-

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ance that the brand is exactly what it says it is.

As well as this, the support by the management is something that I have not witnessed before. The reasoning behind this is quite possibly the dedication to the brand that enables the management to delegate - though enjoy the time of work. Finally, the strength of the team that work at the Birmingham store is what secured my position for me. In previous experience, I had never observed the positivity and enjoyment of the team – I learned a lot about the store, the brand, general practices and orders as well as discovering the different backgrounds of the staff; more interestingly how the diverse lifestyles are all brought together simply by

The work ethos of Jack Wills is what truly impressed me about the brand, the insistence of the motto flowed and inevitably driven the work force behind the name. This idea of be real, have fun, be yourself and be friendly as it quotes in the Rob Shaw’s ‘Back to Jack – guide to service and sales’ is witnessed ever so boldly by every member that I have encountered at my time there. The ideology of the University lifestyle is neither lost within the team the store team, allowing the employees to gain life lessons through the support of the brand.

the name of the brand. Being an employee at the Jack Wills store has allowed me to discover a new dimension to myself, the adaptability to lifestyle of the brand. My time as an employee has so far taught me many life lessons such as people skills and management that is influenced by the brand. More importantly, it has changed my preconception about the brand and compelled me to view fashion in another viewpoint as opposed to branding and social influence; the vast expansion of the brand consents employees like myself to seek further exciting opportunities within Jack Wills for the future. As well as being a Jack Wills employee, I wear the brand with pride.

My story on being an employee at Jack Wills P

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“The inside of my wardrobe is full of magazine clippings – I have always loved fashion” Amelia Richards – known to her colleagues as Mia – embarks on her avid love for fashion and how this thrived her position at Jack Wills. For Mia her love for fashion stemmed at a young age, under the influence of her mother who is a textiles teacher the matter of fashion is a custom that she grew up with. “I always wanted to stand out from the crowd”, she added whether it was a jumper or an accessory she would make every attempt to make her outfit different. Unaccustomed to the average teenager who will make every attempt to ‘fit in’ and camouflage them enough so that the true personality is sometimes disregarded. “I was the kid that wore an old brown jumper to Brownies because it was vintage – and different”. Vintage clothing is a trend that has most commonly risen over the passed half decade;

the interest in Vintage clothes has illuminated a love for something that used to be in fashion, but now is regarded as out-dated. Jack Wills’ constant dedication to the classic items rather than adhering to the mass market also mirror the influence of heritage onto clothing. Jack Wills is a brand that she initially encountered whilst on holiday in the South of Wales; “I was probably sixteen and I kept seeing people wearing these ‘Wills’ tops, so me and my sister went home and researched it – that when I brought my first pair of Jack Wills white jeans”. Since the recollection, Mia progressed to explain how she loves the British/preppy aesthetic of Jack Wills and how she is fed up with the explosion of its American competitors Ralph Lauren and Hollister. American brands are often seen as the most powerful and influential types of promotion due to its mass success. Nationwide, the population become ob-

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sessed with the matter of discovering the next trend and socially it is predetermined that this is undertook masterfully by the US; though Mia adds “the classic look always looks good; we know how to do it best”. Mia graduated from Wolverhampton University with a degree in Fashion and Textiles whilst specialising in digital prints; also mentioning elements of her dissertation were based on Jack Wills. Conclusively to this, Mia married at the age of twenty - something that is often unheard of in a modern context – she created her own wedding dress. “Religion is important to me, it was important to cover my shoulders within the church”, after endless trails of dress shopping nothing in the current market catered for her needs so it was decided to maker her own. It took Mia and her mother months of boundless fabric tests and trials runs before the dress was complete, “I always associate the 2012 Olympics with the

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time that I spent with my mum making my wedding dress”. A time spent on pride and passion. As well as the dress, she and her family created most of the aesthetics that went into the wedding; including the wedding cake, origami stars, table runners and cake-pop favours. In terms of the audience reception at Jack Wills, “fourteen and forty year olds recognise the brand it’s not too mainstream”. Though the brand is aimed towards the 16-24 year old demographic, the brands loyalty to British heritage appeals to people much further than the age bracket. Would you like to stay and progress within the brand? “I would like to be a visual merchandiser for Jack Wills, I do not want to be in retail all my life though I can see myself excelling within the company”. Find out more on Amelia’s designs and print work at ameliahardwick.com.


“The next step for Jack is definitely global expansion,

without a doubt” J

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Newly recruited assistant store manager of Birmingham Jack Wills entails her ideas for the future of Jack Wills, also how her retail experience has coloured her perspective at Jack.

It is an ordinary Wednesday afternoon here at the Birmingham store and unusually the shop floor is fairly busy with intrigued customers deliberating the last ten minutes of their late lunch break. In the midst of the afternoon buzz, assistant store manager, Tara Johal elaborates on the brands success in juxtaposition to how her background has got her to where she is today. “I have been at Jack Wills for five months now”, the short time frame that she has been working at Jack Wills for has implemented a newly refined perspective in terms of retail management. She continued to exclaim how her time most previously at Ted Baker proved very little challenge thus it was decided to try something different. Tara spent three years previously working for Ted Baker in the Birmingham Selfridges, the time and effort that was spent there enabled her to establish her true work ethic. There achieving the role of store manager, allowed Tara to see that she is ready for a more enticing challenge as opposed to what she was used to for the past few years at Ted Baker. Where is the challenge you ask in comparison? Jack Wills came with a newly distinctive way of training, standards that had to be met by the company’s guidance, as well as the slightly daunting task of running a lone shop – at that time - on her own. The company like to address quaint-independent buildings that have stood the test of time, appealing directly to the heritage strength within the brand; the reason why the stores are found outside of busy shopping centres is that it does not suit the aesthetic of the shop. Tara left her hometown of Leicester to pursue a three-year long Law degree at Nottingham University and graduated with a 2:1 qualification, “I had a real passion for my time at University”. With the degree under her belt she relocated 125 miles south of Nottingham to the counties capital,

where she commenced the escapade of retail. “First I was a supervisor in Selfridges, then a junior manager at FCUK before then leaving to become the store manager at Ted Baker in Birmingham”. Though Tara is only 27-years-old, her journey within fashion has quickly developed and enabled her to validate higher roles within the retail hierarchy through her commitment to work. Established with a Law degree, her time and passion of university has helped the ethos of working at Jack Wills, the company promoting a ‘University Outfitters’ targeting the university student demographic. Even though she has only worked at Jack Wills for five months, she has grasped every element of the brand. Elaborating on the demographic, “the brand targets British youth” – the importance of the younger audience is key to the customer foot traffic. The younger audience become fascinated with the brand and look for items clearly tagged with the ‘Wills’ or the ‘JW’ typography on the face of the product as a token of social value. The brand appeals to the British youth because it “is fun and quirky” working closely with the bold promotions online and in store. “I like how Jack Wills uses social media to attract the younger audience; I think it works really well”. The social presence of Jack Wills currently works most popularly on Twitter (@JackWills) with current total of 130,000 followers and Facebook (facebook.com/jackwillsfans) with 641,660 likes. With nearly 20.5 thousand tweets, Twitter’s impact is a more regular and fast paced way of attracting immediate attention. The social exposure of Twitter has aided the platform to mass global popularity – according to staticbrain.com there was a total of 645,750,000 Twitter users at the beginning of 2014. The increased fascination with social media related programmes allows brands like Jack Wills to gain credibility as well as constant promotion through hearsay.

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“I love cooking and baking in my spare time” through her busy work schedule keeps Tara committed for forty hours weekly, she elaborates how she spends her spare time aside from Jack Wills. “Over the winter work takes priority with the mania that Christmas has on retail, but the summer is the time to relax and enjoy the BBQs”.

centres – is the true legacy essence of the brand disappearing for the benefit of expansion? Becki Dale adds “the uniqueness of the buildings for example the Halifax Store used to be an old Carpet Mill” is what makes the company established in heritage, she adds that it “will lose the impact” if the company expansion loses this key imporantce.

In the busy poolroom of the Birmingham store Tara elaborates on her experiences of travelling. “I love to travel, I have been to Mexico, Greece Dubai” to mention a few. “My favourite place to visit was Thailand where I went for my honeymoon, great excursions, the weather was beautiful and the people there are wonderful – it was where I was at my most happiest”. She then exclaims how there are only two places she aspires to visit with her husband, Australia and America – “I would go for at least three weeks, no less”. Though Tara deems the brand to be of interest to the younger customer, there are some elements to the company that she believes may need observation; “the company focuses on things that don’t need assistance”. For instance, “the website could be so much better” with the increase in shopping online as opposed to shopping in store allows the customer to experience retail therapy without having to leave their house; hence this becomes a worry when considering the loss of customer basis because of a technical disregard. Tara also mentions how “the company is rapidly growing”. “The next step for Jack is definitely global expansion; there will be more of a presence in shopping centres”. As previously touched on the demeanour of the company is to adapt a building with history for store locations, however if expanding the brand means a precedence in shopping

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J. W S T O R E P L AY L I S T vibes and reactions from the customers. With “plans to expand over seas” added by long term JW employee Adam Richards, the store play list becomes a platform of opportunity towards the unsigned artists; excelling their career by the dual-promotion. Nathan Ball, musician based in London and Cornwall elaborates how he is “pretty stoked” to have his music played in the Jack Wills stores. Undiscovered artists such as Nathan Ball from Cornwall, Frank Hamilton from London and Dance à la Plage from the Midlands are just a few of the names enlisted by Jack Wills playlist. As well as the unsigned music, classics such as the vocals from one of Diana Ross’ popular tracks have been sampled and transformed into a recycled newer and suited style of music to contemporary listeners.

The music within a store is implemented as a way of setting the ambiance for the brand. Often in many conventional stores this is the latest music that is currently in the charts, allowing the customer hear music that they are already acquainted with.

Within the mix of the British undiscovered artists, quirky folk and indie songs that are already well known to the current listener are selected to suit modern conventions of store playlists. This is noted by artists such as Bastille, Mumford and Sons and The 1975 to remind the customer of the vast talent in pre-existing established British music.

“pretty stoked”

Jack Wills relishes the company on being known for presenting undiscovered British talent. When the customer enters a JW store they will most probably hear a song that is raw, unsigned material which intrigues them both to the brand and the hidden artist. In terms of the brand itself, the slogan ‘fabulously British’ is selected to the finest detail of the music that has been carefully selected. The type of music that is heard in store is often a variation of genres, bouncing off the basis of indie-rock. The selection conforms to an up-beat tempo music deliberating positive

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“I wish there were more opportunities for employee’s not in education” Grace McCabe, a 24-year old actor deliberates on how the past year at Jack Wills has defined the direction in her life. Grace studied at Bournemouth University where she graduated in Arts. Her love for film and movies derived from a young age “it’s the perfect past time”; as well as this she remains enthusiastic about animation. The entertainment industry has remained a continuous thriving industry, as opposed to any of its competitors the industry continues to strengthen with age. Her all-time favourite theatre, film and music compilation – ‘The Sound of Music’ remains to stand the test of time, similarly to the industry itself it “takes me back to my childhood”. Grace quotes how she is currently spending her spare time away from her full-time hours at Jack Wills rehearsing for a musical production, of which she is set to play the lead. Grace’s first reminiscence of Jack Wills was at an outlet store in the hidden shopping district of Bicester Village, tucked away just north of Oxford; “I loved the clothes, but thought it’s not affordable”. In terms of the brand in a more modern context, one element of the brand that she admires the most is how well presented the products are in-store – “it makes you proud to be British through the brand”. It is noted throughout the social media that Jack Wills promoted numerous internships and opportunities for the employees who are at university; Grace adds “I wish there were more opportunities for employees not in education or suited

more for my age”. During the interview, Grace deliberated an “ah-hah moment” of reflection whilst discussing her time at Jack Wills. “It has taught me what to do rather than what not to do, which is what they did at University” her experience at the store has enabled her to experience elements such as communication skills, professionalism, marketing, work ethics and sales inevitably. “Here I have learned more about people not retail”. Who is your favourite actor and why? “Anthony Hopkins, because he tells the truth”.


SEASONNAIRES Many 18-23 year olds note the Jack Wills Seasonnaires as the best job in summer, why? Because it enables you to experience the brand in a way that you could not before. With the mantra ‘work hard, live louder’ the internship is guaranteed by the brand to be the best job in the summer. The handbook for the Seasonnaires quotes that each individual will ‘receive invaluable education, interacting and working with representatives’ from brands such as Reindeer, Lividini, Orillo and Teen Vogue. Without a doubt the Seasonnaires will leave the internship with an intense education on branding, marketing and promotion. As well as this the vast amount of contacts within certain avenues that will forever aid their public relations. The ‘summer long internship, based in one of the company’s 5 locations’ is most probably every students dream summer internship, with the addition of being able to travel to various destinations all within period of three months and work closely with the team at the Jack Wills headquarters.

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The handbook further promotes the “Winners will also attend the biggest summer event, the varsity polo”; the idea of winning a spot on the Seasonnaires team portrays the internship as a fantasy rather than a viable option. So what is the impression of the Seasonnaires on the general public we ask? – Now employee of Jack Wills, Tom Parker recalled his first experience of the brand. “My first encounter with the brand was in Rock, Cornwall. I saw the Seasonnaires outside the JW Land Rover and I was impressed”; whilst on a regular family holiday to the West Country, little did Tom realise that this encounter would lead him to his vocation path. “I wanted to emulate them”. Tom was one of many applicants who applied for the summer-long internship in the US, of which he researched, campaigned and collated information for until he informed that the position was only suited for applicants over the age of 21. “I applied for the Seasonnaires post in America, I wanted to help the company abroad and have a good time over the summer”. The summer the perfect opportunity for the brand to expand globally for the simplicity of it being a national recreational time, keeping within the means of the brand people will be more open to the idea of British fun, students and a whole new branding concept. The Seasonnaires handbook quotes the winners will receive a salary, flights, trav-

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el, access to the JW Land Rover, a computer, Internet access and more. Tom touched on how he believes he could have progressed Jack Wills in America, “I get the culture there and I am interested in the company expanding”. The prospect of the American university demographic in reliance with the British may seem as though they follow the same connotations though the cultural difference is massively marginalised. Thus, the US demographic would need to perhaps play on the stereotypes of Britain in order for the brand to succeed “its different to how it is portrayed here”.

“I want to accomplish my degree and I am motivated to do so” Rugby-enthusiast-Tom has been working at the Birmingham Jack Wills store for six months, after having to leave his medical degree after a year he found a steady pillar in the JW name “I am good at my job, I am a team player and have a good work ethic” all of which he believes would have worked well for the Seasonnaires post. Though admitting before the brand went popular he preferred Jack Wills sister brand ‘Aubin and Wills’, once envisaged as the next Wills brand once the University lifestyle had been outlived; ‘Aubin and Wills’ stores have now been reduced after a brand decision to focus the fuelling of promotion to the JW name solely.

With the increased interest in the brand, Tom states that he can see himself excelling a career path in the company’s marketing. Though beforehand, he hopes to pursue a “less demanding” course of History and Politics at Oxford University, “I want to accomplish my degree and I am motivated to do so”. If you believe that you could be spending your ‘summer hanging out on the beach, sailing and surfing during the day and hosting parties in the town at night’ then perhaps this is the position for you. Find out more information on the Jack Wills Seasonnaires at http://www.jackwills.com/media/1521037/job_spec-onlineus.pdf


The Jack Wills Story: The Success of Jack Wills.