We are often asked, where we source all the stock that adorn Hansfords' shelves. It's quite a long story, but we'll keep it short!
Hansfords' stock comes mainly from two key sources - at least in concept. It comes from either visiting tradeshows or from suppliers whom Matthew visits regularly to build up important, mutually beneficial relationships.
The majority of tradeshows are on mainland Europe where the biggest have traditionally been in Berlin or Düsseldorf. However, the ones from which much of Hansfords' stock is sourced are in Florence, Copenhagen or Stockholm. Having said that, the most important tradeshow for Hansfords runs twice a year near Northampton, UK. Called the IMC Menswear Show, it is open only to members of the IMC Buying Group, all of whom are independent menswear retailers.
The history behind this group is interesting: in 1981 a retail business guru, Norman Highton, came up with the idea of independent menswear specialists joining forces in order to enjoy the advantages of scale. In 1998 Matthew and three other independent menswear retailers consolidated the idea and started a voluntary buying group trade show - the IMC Menswear Show. The aim was to help each other discover new brands, share knowledge and join forces to buy in such quantities that they could influence the quality, style and colour of the merchandise. The group now consists of some 140 members.
The IMC Menswear Show attracts around 50 hand-picked suppliers from all over Europe. Matthew's position in the buying group means he plays a key role in finding new merchandise and encouraging the suppliers to visit the UK Show twice a year. And this is how Matthew keeps Hansfords' stock as vibrant and interesting as possible. He has spent much time travelling over the last 20 years to Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Holland and Italy either visiting Hansfords' biggest suppliers - such as Meyer - or visiting new ones that end up becoming a popular brand - like Oscar of Sweden. It often takes several years to build up the sort of relationship that works for both parties. At the same time as bringing such amazing garments and accessories back home, it ensures less travel is required by each separate member of the IMC Group helping the environment as well as providing amazing quality clothing to men the country over.