Northern Enterprise Awards 2020

16 | Northern Enterprise Awards 2020 Oct20497 Best Emerging Independent Men’s Clothing Retailer - North West Union 22 is a luxury men’s multi brand store in the heart of the North West. A true independent, Union 22 is dedicated to timeless style and the utmost quality and providing the very best service and knowledge to clients. The vision for Union 22 was to source and bring together some of the world’s finest brands under one roof in the heart of Liverpool City Centre. Located within the grade II listed building of the imposing Union House, formerly the home of Tetley’s Tea in the 1800s, the prestige of the products offered at Union 22 reflect its grand environment to create a very unique shopping experience that is quite unlike any other. “We follow a very simple but effective strategy of treating the customer the way we would want to be treated,” explains Co-Founder Dale Allman. “This may appear very obvious, but we felt this was something that was missing within similar stores in the area.” Along with John Paul Cooper, they created Union 22 four years ago and the relatively young company initially found some difficulty in taking market share away from already well-established luxury stores in the area. However, the firm’s unique selling points are very clear and it differentiates using its bespoke mix of brands along with its one-on-one personalised service. It is also down to sheer determination on behalf of the founders and dedicated staff that Union 22 has experienced such success, and Dale tells us that the initial concept for the store was met with trepidation and negativity by some. “A lot of people in the industry told us our idea and brand mix would never work - they laughed and said that we wouldn’t be around after the first year. And yet, here we are!” Being based in Liverpool certainly has many benefits as The North has always been known as a region where the people are not only warm and welcoming, but very stylish. Home to musical greats such as The Beatles and The Stone Roses, to the more recent emerging giants like Boohoo and Misguided. The region and in particular Liverpool, is synonymous with culture and affluence. The local football team Liverpool FC helped to bring more wealth to the area and due to travelling abroad for European matches, this also helped to establish the football casual classics trend that is commonplace today. “By this effect, the people of Liverpool in particular have always been pioneers of trends in their own right,” says Dale. “They care about appearance, they don’t want to wear the same outfit as every other person but rather seek out new brands and trends. We try to incorporate that inspiration into our store by bringing something new to our client’s wardrobes each season.” Recently Dale and the team at Union 22 have seen a trend towards more sporty and relaxed looks. With formal and semi-formal wear largely disappearing not only due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic but also because trends are filtering through from the ‘Athleisure’ industry – this being a form of sports clothing that can also be worn in other settings, such as the workplace, school or social occasions. “People still want to look great, but they want fabrics that feel comfortable and perform.” The subsequent pandemic lockdowns saw the in-store business suffer due to it having to close for five months, however the online store has become increasingly popular and Dale has seen its international sales grow considerably. However, despite the obvious coronavirus setbacks, the future is still bright for Union 22 and there are plans of expansion on the horizon. “Whilst opening a second location is still a couple of years away given the current situation, we do have a vast basement area which we are looking to optimise through extending the store,” Dale enthuses. “This would take Union 22 across three floors and we would incorporate a bar and VIP area into the basement for our private shopping clients. “If you have something unique that you believe in, keep your vision straight ahead. Keep moving forward step by step and you will achieve that vision.” Company: Union 22 Contact: Dale Allman Web Address: Union 22’s home is in the breath-taking 139-year-old Union House in the heart of Liverpool’s bustling business district. The building’s original features fused with modern interior architecture reflect the very essence of Union 22. We caught up with the firm’s Co-Founder, Dale Allman who tells us more about one of the best emerging independent men’s clothing retailers in the North West today.