How Peter Jackson became Australia’s most popular menswear brand

How best to encapsulate the menswear boom in Australia over the last five years?  

Sure, there are now hundreds of guys who could chew your ear off about the respective qualities of English and Italian shoes, critique your lapel pin or show you in under two minutes ten different ways to fold your pocket square.

But to really get a clearer picture of the nature of this sustained boom, it's worth looking at one question in particular: where are men shopping?

The local brand

In its report on formal menswear retailing in Australia released earlier this year, market research firm IBISWorld found that Australia's biggest menswear retailer isn't a global giant or a national department store, but a chain that was founded in early 1950s Melbourne by three siblings working in a barber shop.

While it only commands a modest six per cent of the $325 million national market, the performance of Peter Jackson throughout the 2015/16 financial year was enough to shade that of global behemoth Hugo Boss, and comfortably see off the efforts of Myer and David Jones.

A quiet achiever

It's also the quickest growing menswear retailer in Australia.

"Up until five years ago we were a state-based brand with only 12 stores in Victoria," says David Jackson, the company's design director.

That number has now quadrupled.

"Shop number fifty was the stand-alone flagship on King Street in Sydney and shop 52 is in the Australia on Collins redevelopment [St Collins Lane] in Melbourne's CBD. So huge, huge growth in the last four years."

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Considering the expansive growth has been achieved without outside investment it's a remarkable performance.

Reinvention is the key

Jackson attributes the success to ridding the store of outdated perceptions (which meant the famous Peter Jackson jingle got the flick) and targeting a more fashion-orientated consumer with what Jackson calls a 'masstige' offering – that is premium or prestige product for the mass market.

"Our model is about bringing the world's best textiles to the masstige market. We really want the best for our customer, we want every aussie guy to have access to this and there's no reason why he shouldn't," says Jackson.

Without splitting hairs over what represents premium product, it has to be said that Jackson is true to his word.

The promise of quality

Sixty per cent of the retailer's off-the-rack suits and jackets are made with Italian fabric produced by the Marzotto group (funnily enough the parent company of competitor, Hugo Boss), with other products, including sports jackets, produced using fabrics by Zignone, Marlane and Reda – all highly respected Italian fabric mills. When it comes to shirts, again you can find Italian cloth produced by Tessitura Monti.

While it's easy for men who would have no bones paying well over $1000 for a suit to look down their noses at Peter Jackson, the quality and value for money on offer is undeniably strong.

Giving Aussie guys the opportunity to pick up a suit made of Italian fabric for around the $400-$600 mark is no mean feat. On top of this Peter Jackson recently launched its made-to-measure service in which chaps can take their pick from a range of over 70 Marzotto fabrics and choose from a wide range of designs for between $799 and $999.

"We're selling more suits on a weekly basis than we ever have. And it's not just because we're a bigger business," says Jackson.

"The whole repositioning of the brand, doing a better job of delivering a more meaningful product, and I suppose being six to eight years in that cycle has been really well received."