I wrote about the Essex pant last week here –
The Essex is khakis, I suppose, but it isn’t. Wear them on most of the occasions you wear khakis, sure. If you wear khakis to work, wear the Essex to work. If you wear khakis to dinner, wear the Essex out to dinner. But be warned. You will not get the same reaction you get with typical khakis.
When I write about a particular piece, good bad or otherwise, I wear it while I am writing about it. So yesterday, I wore mine again. And I had a 9:00 meeting for my church. We are preparing for our annual meeting. So – not a board meeting, but an important one. I went all Andover. WOCBD, which everyone is used to. Khakis, which everyone is used to too, Jay Butler loafers which everyone is used to. Repp tie, which everyone is used to. But when I walked in, I got,
“John, you are dressed up today.”
“I wear this all the time…”
“I don’t know, it looks dressed up today.”
That’s because there is a difference, noticeable, between the Essex and regular khakis. And this has been bothering me since I wrote the review. Did I do a good enough job of making sure you knew that this pant is a khaki but it isn’t?
“If you are not second guessing yourself, you are not trying to get better.” – Don Mattingly
So I did a deep dive into Andover and the Essex. I got more info on why you need at least one pair of the Essex (they are not the cheapest pant on the planet, but more on that in a second), but I also ran headfirst into the most civil, aesthetically pleasing and Ivy-Standard-Bearing retail and online experience. And I got some State Of The Union details as well.
Here, this is Jake Shields.
I spent some time talking to Jake about the Essex, and about the business. “The style is always evolving,” he said, “it always comes around but never the same way twice. We are selling a lot of sports coats, chinos, even 5 pockets.” “Ties,” I ask? “Ties are selling for sure, as much for events now as for business.”
Jake told me that there was a bit of Covid rebounding, which I always suspected but it was nice to have it confirmed. “Graduations, weddings, even funerals,” Jake continued, “I think we are making up for some lost time, and people are buying more clothes for those events.”
I spoke with John Worthington and Jim Toomey of the Andover store. Jim has even there 35 years, and says there is no end in sight. “Andover is an environment where we are able to build relationships over time without sales pressure, so the job is not only more fulfilling, but we are able to create happier customers too.” I asked Jim what percentage of his sales were based on his own advice versus customers who know exactly what they want, he said it was pretty evenly split. “You do get the customer who comes in asking for a black suit,” he paused, “but of course a black suit should be a tuxedo.”
Jake added, “We are supported in working at creating a customer – and the only way you do that is to create a dynamic where the customer is excited about their purchase every single time.”
Which gets me back to the Essex. The khaki that isn’t a khaki. It’s a logical next step for Andover, but only with the right energy. Fortunately, Andover has that as well. I’ve been emailing Tucker Mscisz who is too modest to even tell me his title, but it is clear that Andover is his baby. His strategy, quality salespeople who are capable not just of expertise but of being the face of the company, is paying off. Andover has momentum, and it is founded in Tucker’s direction. We were talking about his customer base and he sent me an email I won’t quote here, but only because someday he is going to want to make it into a book for Harvard Business and I don’t want to leak the content. But he closed that email with this quote:
“We know clothing and we know our customers. We help them find something they’ll love and wear for the rest of their lives.“
“Yes, you can buy a car for $1,000. And it might even get you back and forth from work a couple of times. But you cannot buy a classic car that you will drive for the rest of your life for $1,000.”