Jack Wills – an inspirational brand story

Jack Wills in Salcombe

This summer we visited Salcombe in Devon where we went to the original Jack Wills store and felt inspired to tell you more about their extraordinary brand success story. The very first store opened in a tiny retail space in 1999. The aim of the brand was to encapsulate University Life into a branded set of clothing, with the slogan ‘University Outfitters’. Considering their humble and rural beginnings, the brand was very forward-thinking in their approach. They prepared their handbook, logo and mail-order system prior to the launch with a clear set of goals and guidelines from the outset. Despite this preparation, there were a few hiccups with manufacturers and at first they were ironing their iconic logo onto some of the products individually.

The Jack Wills brand identified and positioned themselves in the market beautifully and just six years later – in 2005 – they moved their head office to London, hosting a fashion show at Kensington Roof Gardens and opening a new store in a converted launderette on Portobello Road. By the end of the year they had opened ten stores across the UK.

Jack Wills in Salcombe

Unlike some other fashion retailers, the brand took a fresh approach to marketing and selling their wares, taking them on tour to Fresher’s fares up and down the country to reach their target audience – epitomising what it is to be British, irreverent and carefree. Now with more than 70 stores across the UK  – and 320 locations across the globe- Jack Wills has gone from strength-to-strength from truly humble beginnings.

A Tiny space - Jack Wills in Salcombe

Here you can see some of the Barber team outside the tiny storefront that was the original Jack Wills shop. Brand founders Peter Williams and Robert Shaw slept above the space, which is named after Peter’s grandfather. This small store is now flanked by two additional retail spaces where it has spread into the adjacent buildings following its rise to fame. A true British retail success story and an inspirational example of what happens when you get your branding, target audience, retail design and marketing methods right.

Jack Wills in Salcombe

The Jack Wills story shows that you don’t necessarily have to be in a big city to be successful. It doesn’t matter what town you start up in, if you are getting all of the details right, you should succeed! Can you think of any other good examples of British brand success stories like this? Let us know in the comments below.

Orignal storefront - Jack Wills in Salcombe