Say ‘Cricket’ to a fashionable Scouser and they don’t think wickets and bats – they think fashion and the recognisable zebra skin carrier bags. After 21 years of visibility in the fashion retail industry, Cricket has proved that it is not just a store for our local WAGs. Now expanding into the limitless e-commerce world, Cricket is set for world domination. Their web team of five ensures that our fellow Liver Birds who have moved away from our city can still get their hands on what’s hot in Liverpool, while customers from all around the country, desperately searching for the latest must-have item, (that has sold out down south) can source it at our very own Cricket. A fashion emporium that is, and remains unique to Liverpool is now spreading its wings to the online world, proving its fashion credentials one more time. Here, founder Justine Mills answers our questions on the growth of this Liverpool fashion institution.
Can you remember and tell us a bit about the first days of opening back in 1991? How have things changed?
Things were very different back then as Cricket was only a men’s store. The name comes from the sport not the insect! We wanted something simple and British that went along with the times. Traditional English tailoring was very popular so it fitted well. Now as you know we are fashion forward, with a large women’s and men’s floor, kids wear store and e-commerce site, cricket-fashion.com.
How have you managed to stay on top?
Fashion is my motivation. I truly believe that you are only as good as your last season. I am constantly researching, and editing the designer collections to fit the Cricket brand. I am also always on the shop floor and we strive for client feedback. Since I spend time with the customers I can react quickly and change my orders for the following season if I need to. I love introducing new brands to Liverpool and seeing them flourish or sell out. For example Balenciaga; when it first arrived at Cricket customers couldn’t pronounce it now it is a best seller. Another key to our success is that we are a comforting environment to shop in; the staff have been with us for so many years it’s like a family. You don’t feel like you have just entered a museum and are being followed around. It’s a family atmosphere and an Aladdin’s Cave of stock.
After 21 years of success what has the evolution been like for you and the business as a whole?
It’s been amazing. I have met some of my best friends through the shop like Sheree Murphy. You do get to meet the most amazing people. Because of Cricket I have had some fabulous “fashion moments” like attending Lanvin’s 10th Anniversary party for Alber Ellbaz and the Stella McCartney store opening in London. There are moments where you realise the hard work has paid off. I am so honoured to be involved with the British Fashion Council and regularly attend meetings as one of the few representatives outside of London. It makes me very proud and appreciative of the success and evolution of the business.
Can you explain the decision to start the e-commerce aspect of the business and what has it been like setting that up?
We have wanted to do it forever and we did attempt it 10 years ago but the timing wasn’t right. Then we began building an e-commerce team with Sarah Holden (our web editor) who came from My-Wardrobe.com two years ago but it was an organic transition because Sarah was a customer. We now have five girls who all have passion in different areas so they complement each other. We have our own studio where we shoot the products, create editorial and also prepare garments to be shipped in our luxury, bespoke packaging to people across the country. Cricket fans who have moved out of Liverpool can now get their Cricket fix online and delivered to their door. Being able to see trends in spending from outside Liverpool is just very exciting.
Where do you see Cricket in 5 years time?
We will still be evolving, always bringing in new and exciting labels. Growing the e-commerce, building the team and putting Cricket on the international map.
What Spring/Summer 2013 brands are you excited for?
We like to keep it a secret. Many seasons ago we kept a very big secret. We were going to stock the acclaimed Balmain collection, the one with the big shoulder military and rock and roll jackets, and leather cropped trousers. We invited 30 clients who fit the Balmain aesthetic and loved the brand to a private trunk show. They received an invitation giving no clues away other than it was in the shape of a shoulder pad. We sold 90% of the collection that night, it was an amazing event.
What brands are doing well?
Isabel Marant is the brand du jour. With the economy the way it is customers find her line practical. There is a metamorphosis with her collections, so you can wear pieces for more than one season and add to them. Stella McCartney pieces are great for wardrobe building. Carven is selling out also. It is an old French house, with amazing quality and detail. The price point is really fantastic and Alexa Chung is a fan. Carven is a brand you can wear your own way, as it is very versatile so you can put your own stamp on it.
A look from “IT” label Isabel Marant
Style and Substance: a look from Carven
What brands can we find in your closet?
Stella McCartney is a go to brand for me. Elizabeth & James does easy pieces for work. The feeling of wearing Celine is lovely and Balenciaga does fabulous statement pieces.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to open a retail shop in Liverpool?
Do your research, find a niche and surround yourself with a great team. You need to be committed to the store and it will have to come first if you want to succeed!
What is the business ethos for Cricket?
The best brands and the best service.
Why do you think it is important to support women in business in Liverpool?
I absolutely love working with women, they have a massive passion and lots of personality. They have so much to offer and I just thoroughly enjoy my team of girls. Their strength and motivation is unrivalled.
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