Shop Talk: MAZE
In the first of a new series of interviews, we hear from Maze, a family-run independent with three stores in the South-West. If you find yourself in Bristol, Bath or Taunton, stop by to say hello or you can now shop online via the newly-established Miinto.
Firstly, can you introduce yourself and your store?
Maze is a family-run business with stores for men and women in Bristol, Bath and Taunton. The first Maze store was opened in 1985.
What products & brands do you offer?
We offer a fantastic edit of stylish pieces from the most interesting and wearable labels. The overall aesthetic is clean and chic. We sell future classics that are made to be worn and loved – everyday pieces that are characterised by quality and craftsmanship. We have established labels like Farhi, Hartford, European Culture, French Connection, John Smedley alongside cult favourites: Citizens of Humanity, Edwin, Maison Scotch, Scotch & Soda, Paige, Velvet, Holland Esquire, as well as some new finds such as 2nd Day, Bellerose, Twist & Tango, Nice Things, and YMC. It’s always evolving.
You have a mix of designer labels and streetwear brands. Why is this?
Our philosophy remains unaltered since we opened our doors in 1985 – to share the pleasure and feel-good factor that can be found in beautiful clothes. That rings true whether they’re designer or streetwear brands. For us, the presentation is as important as the product, so we merchandise by colour and theme rather than by brand. We mix it up because that’s how people like to dress. It’s very unusual to find someone who want to wear one collection from head-to-toe.
How important is it for you to include new labels?
Very important. We’re always looking for new labels that we think our customers will like. We take inspiration from our travels. We spend a lot of time in London, Paris and Berlin drawing on the ideas that we see in those places. The key is never to stop looking. Our customers know their stuff and we wouldn’t want them to get bored. You’ve got to keep moving to stay ahead.
So many stores seem to have the exact same brand list, do you feel offering unique labels helps distinguish your store in the marketplace?
Absolutely – exclusivity is key if you want to stand out from the crowd. We’ve only ever sold the collections that we believe in and that we would want to wear ourselves. We don’t want to wear clothes that look ubiquitous. Over the years, we’ve established ourselves as a destination boutique for fashion-conscious people who want something a bit different from the high street.
Is there anything in particular you look for before taking on a new brand?
We always keep our customer in mind but it’s a fine balance. You have to follow your heart or your store has no personality. We’re fortunate in that as a family we have very definite taste. That makes the buying easy in some ways but harder in others. We know what we like but it can take us a while to find it!
As a buyer that gets approached by new brands, what advice would you offer them as the best way to introduce themselves?
Be confident in your product but understand what each boutique offers before you contact them. If possible, visit the stores and consider whether your brand is the right fit. An understanding of the business you’re talking to goes a long way.
Conversely, is there a wrong way for them to introduce themselves to you, is there something that would put you off from dealing with a new supplier?
In their eagerness to make a sale, many brands don’t take the time to find out what’s working for you, or look at the types of collections that you stock. They insist that they know your customer better than you. That’s a sure-fire way to end the conversation.
Thorough and insightful answers we’re sure you’d agree.
Great to see an independent family-run business going strong for over 27 years. Find Maze online here.