Meet Michael and Tom in the second of our Retail Around the World series, where we zipped off 'down the arcade'. Mixing the old (sorry Michael) with the new here's what life in the arcade is like.
So how do you two come to be working at Crockett & Jones?
Michael (M): Previously, I was a manager at Marks & Spencer, but I left in 2011 in search of a new challenge, and wasn’t sure exactly what to do with myself. Then, a few months later, I dropped my CV into C&Js’s Royal Exchange store and was offered an interview. I got the job and started at one of our Jermyn Street stores, eight years later I’m still happily with the company.
Tom (T): Believe it or not, I used to work in a smoothie bar at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex. One afternoon, I unknowingly served the family of Crockett & Jones’s Head of Retail, and a few days later he asked me to meet him in London via a message on LinkedIn. At first, I thought a friend was winding me up. I met him in town, interviewed for a Sales Assistant position and got the job. I’ve been here for approaching four years now.
What’s it like working in the most glamorous part of the West End?
M: Well, Burlington Arcade was the first shopping mall in the world, so it draws quite a crowd. Many people discover our shoes for the first time when they visit the Arcade and don’t look back. The address also makes Burlington Arcade one of our best known stores, so we serve a fair few celebrities (whom shall remain nameless). I’ve served Presidents, Prime Ministers and big Hollywood stars over the years, which is crazy when you stop and think about it.
T: Working in London has always been an ambition of mine, and my Dad’s always idolised the idea of working in London too, so to be able to realise that goal has been awesome.
Is there such a thing as an average day at Burlington Arcade?
M: There’s never a typical day, and every week brings something different. A few weeks ago, I helped a lovely customer who had come in on a whim. She was engaged to give a lecture at Imperial College London, and bought a pair of shoes to wear during the lecture after hearing about our history and heritage. She sent the factory a letter after the lecture, saying how comfortable the shoes were and that the lecture went very well – which was thrilling to hear.
T: There’s no such thing. No customer is the same; you can look at someone and think “okay, I think they’ll like these shoes”, but then you speak to them and they want something completely different. As the saying goes, you can never judge a book by its cover. Plus, in a shop like ours, you get to really engage with customers. It’s not like diving in, grabbing some shoes and off you go, we try to build long-term relationships with our customers and get to know them as best we possibly can.
You’re both snappy dressers, are you into your clothes?
M: Absolutely, I like to mix up jackets and trousers in a formal way; I wear a lot of sports jackets and cords. I like colour too. The experience I had working on Jermyn Street inspired me a lot; it’s nice to look confident in your clothes. I have some customers who like to joke with me, and say “where is your pocket square Michael?” on the days that I don’t wear one.
T: I’m into my shirts; there are so many great shirtmakers on Jermyn Street that it’s hard not to be.
If you could only wear one pair of C&J shoes, what would they be?
M: That’s tricky, I can narrow it down to two pairs. One would be the Marston, a penny loafer with very elegant almond toe shape that I bought years ago – it’s not currently in the collection, but it can be made via special order. The other would be our iconic Pembroke brogue Derby; it works in so many different ways you can wear it out in the evening, in the town and the country, with chinos, jeans or a heavy gauge suit!
T: Cavendish in dark brown suede. Simple as that! My first shoes were a pair of Cavendish loafers in dark brown calf, which I loved to bits and wore everywhere – both at work and on the weekends. So, when it came to a second pair, my manager recommended the dark brown suede, and I love it just as much. I own them in black calf too – they’re just so easy to wear, with everything!
And what models are you looking forward to from the Autumn/Winter ’19 Collection?
M: I’ve been admiring this season’s new take on the Pembroke, which is now available in four different colourways of Cordovan; black, burgundy, dark brown, and whisky. They look superb.
T: We actually just had the new Kensington model in this morning. It fits me really well, so that could certainly be added to my personal collection at some point. You can probably tell I’m a loafer guy, and I like how casual and sleek the Kensington looks – it’s easy to dress up or down.