Thursday, 7 September 2017

Union 22: Menswear Store in Liverpool

I'm aware that sometimes this blog may be somewhat London-centric so I'm delighted to feature a Liverpool menswear store that seems to be going places. Union 22 has a wide and varied selection of menswear and I like their philosophy too: 
"The older, more sophisticated customer who used to buy into heavily branded garments no longer wants these. They are looking for something different, and that’s where we provide our service and stock".

To find out more I spoke to Dale Allman, one of the store's founders:

Tell us about Union 22 and where the name came from:

Union 22 came about when my father wanted to buy a plain white shirt. He wanted a slightly more elevated product than the high street stores but could not seem to find one to satisfy this simple request. Union 22 co-founder, John Cooper, was, at the time, working for Tessuti; he had been the manager of Hugo Boss, Flannels and Wade Smith back in the day. John is the go-to guy for fashion in Liverpool, so my dad went to see him. They spoke about the lack of selection for the more sophisticated customer who doesn’t want to wear heavily branded items but wants luxurious and quality garments. This led to the partnership between myself, (Dale) and John. We established that we were going to do something that no one has ever tried to do in Liverpool. John has always worked for large companies however he would be a partner in our new venture. His vision for the fashion scene in Liverpool was a smarter movement away from the large branded labels. This is where the initial partnership started.

A late summer Union 22 selection: Clockwise from top left: Corneliani, Armani, Bertolo, John Smedley, Corneliani

What made you open a menswear store in Liverpool ? 

The name Union 22 comes partly from the building in which we are situated, Union House on Victoria Street. This Grade II listed building is a piece of history in Liverpool, it was built in 1882 and was home to Tetley Tea headquarters back in the day. The story of the tea being sourced in China and brought to the docks can be seen on the sandstone carvings in the Cornish and on the walls which are beautifully preserved. The number 22 was just a number which seemed to flow effortlessly off the tongue; it's a very easy number to pronounce. We were all sat in Milan by the canals discussing names, and it just came out after a few Negroni cocktails. However, since then we've found out that in numerology it is known as the Master Number. 

What brands and styles do you sell? 

Having worked in fashion in Liverpool for 15 years, John knows the market very well and their trends. We had a location that we felt would go hand in hand with what we were trying to create with the concept of the store. This being a story, we wanted to bring back the theatre and romance of fashion and tell the story behind the building we are in and the reasons for buying some of the most revered menswear brands in the world. We love Liverpool as a city, and we wanted to bring a gem into the north-west. We stock brands that clients normally travel to London for, so we wanted to create our own special place where they can shop for an experience like no other in Liverpool.

We currently have this list of brands in the store: Armani Collezioni, Bertolo, Cheaney, Corneliani, ETON, Morrow Socks, Tom Ford, Edwardson, Johnstons of Elgin, John Smedley, Tramarossa, Nobis, Mackage, Twelevesons and coming for AW17: Lardini, Sealup, Mackage Women’s. For AW18 we'll have: Brioni, Canali, Ermenegildo Zegna and Santoni.

To what extent do your own tastes and styles influence what you stock? 

The style we sell is a mix of semi-formal/upper casual. We bring in brands with history and heritage. We are building our brand list stronger and stronger as can be seen with the more recent additions for AW18. We sell brands which focus on quality and craftsmanship rather than a label.

Our tastes influence what we buy because of various reasons, one of those is the way we see the fashion scene in Liverpool moving. John’s experience is that the older, more sophisticated customer who used to buy into heavily branded garments no longer wants these. They are looking for something different, and that’s where we provide our service and stock. It is something that has not been done in Liverpool and it has been received well so far. Personally I have a taste for things which are timeless. Fashion comes and goes but style always has a place. Whether it be a red wine like Chateau Margaux, a Porsche 356 speedster or a Patek Phillipee, these things are made with care to last and are very special. We wanted to create something like these, something to really be elevated within the city, so we choose brands that are not available anywhere else in Liverpool, and some which are only in Union 22 within the whole of the UK.

How do you see the store developing in future? 

We plan to extend the store downstairs to add an additional 2500 square ft. We see the future of Union 22 being a special place where people shop not only for brands which are sought after but also for a shopping experience and service like no other. To open up another store somewhere else in the UK is next on the list, it would be a great achievement if we could do this.

Union 22 is at Union House, 23 Victoria Street, Liverpool L1 6BD. See Union 22 to browse and buy.

This feature is a collaboration between Grey Fox Blog and Union 22.

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