The founder of menswear label Mr Simple, David Fraser started his business in 2007 with a simple idea—he was looking for men’s clothing with no branding to sell in his store.
“No big logos, good quality, classics… That’s still the concept but back then there was nothing like Uniqlo or American Apparel; those brands hadn’t opened up here yet. It was a different market.
“I felt it was lacking really nice, quality classics without excessive branding plastered all over them.”
Launching Mr Simple was a natural progression for Fraser, who opened The Lab Store with his wife in Fitzroy, Melbourne in 2003. They were also involved in wholesale, distributing brands in Australia and New Zealand, and Fraser had started and run a skateboard label in his early 20s.
The pair began selling Mr Simple t-shirts, chinos and sweats in The Lab and the brand took off. Gradually it became so successful that The Lab was rebranded and became the first Mr Simple retail store.
Ten years on since its launch and Mr Simple is going from strength to strength. It has grown from three to 14 stores in the past four years—located in Melbourne, Sydney, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Auckland—and is averaging 30 per cent growth across bricks-and-mortar and online.
In order to differentiate the label from big apparel players, over the past two years Mr Simple has switched to a focus on ethical sourcing and organic fabrics. However, this doesn’t mean expensive. The brand’s organic cotton t-shirts retail for $39 and a soon to be launched organic denim range will be priced between $150 and $180.
“We still want to offer value but also a good quality product,” said Fraser. “You want to have a product you’re proud of selling and that your staff can be proud of selling, and it also ticks the box of giving us a more premium product.”
The next step for the retailer was a lifestyle concept store, the Department of Simple Things, which opened in Byron Bay in November. The 2,000-square-metre space is about three times as large as a normal Mr Simple store, and is a chance for customers to experience the Mr Simple unique brand identity, with a focus on food and travel.
Fraser describes it as a “curated department store for men” with a rotating mix of products. This includes Mr Simple apparel alongside American cult brand Yeti coolers, hot sauce, magazines, books, skateboards and a barber shop.
If the larger store proves successful, Fraser said he plans to use it as a model to introduce people to the brand and encourage them to shop at all the Mr Simple bricks-and-mortar stores and online.
Ecommerce has become increasingly important for Mr Simple over the last 12 months. “It is generally now our number one shop each month and it didn’t used to be,” said Fraser.
This means creating a functioning omnichannel experience has become more important, and something Fraser is actively working on.
“We’re working really hard to improve our bricks-and-mortar and get ‘bricks-and-clicks’ working smoothly,” said Fraser.
“You just want to make it as easy as possible for people to shop with you…It’s about removing barriers and making sure if you have something in stock it shows, and eliminating what you don’t have.”