Friday, September 25, 2009

The Lodger: Built to last

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies is the title of a business book on what makes an enduring business. Nathan Brown, managing director at The Lodger, is aiming to do precisely that in the men's footwear business. It goes without saying that he's been very focused on building a company that "lasts" (pun fully intended).

During my September visit to London, I dropped by the store tucked away on Clifford Street in Mayfair and chatted with Nathan, who has a degree from London Business School and worked at a well-known footwear company in the Pacific Northwest. He is hoping to carve out a new market segment between ready to wear and full bespoke. Much of his success will hinge on a 3D laser scanning device, installed downstairs in the store, which provides a precise set of measurements of the geometry of the foot.

While I was in the store, I happened to strike up a conversation with an Austrian customer, Thomas, who proceeded to have his feet scanned on the device. Nathan has found that doing both a traditional fitting and using their scanning device produces the best results. This makes quite a bit of sense. Even in the 21st century it's actually quite difficult to fully automate "a good fit", a process which is statically physical (described by measurements) but also dynamically perceived by the customer.

Below are a few photos of my visit, taken with Thomas's camera:

Nathan Brown & Thomas

Wholecut

Oxford chocolate

Brogue milkshake

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