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Silver Deer: Mexico’s Men's Style Pioneer

  • BoF Team

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Robert Hirsh, a Canadian investment banker, founded Silver Deer after spotting the opportunity for a menswear multi-brand retailer when he was working in the Mexican market. Returning to what he deems 'Retail 101,' Hirsch has built his store's reputation and established Silver Deer's place in the market through educating the Mexican and Latin American menswear consumers on sartorial brands, previously not easily available in the region. The highly designed store, which was influenced by Scandinavian simplicity and the desire to create a contemporary luxury environment, changes its layout and merchandising every two weeks.

We spoke to Hirsh on the phone from Mexico City, where Silver Deer has emerged as the city's numero uno menswear style destination.

BoF: Why as a Canadian did you choose to open a menswear store in Mexico?

RH: I just saw that Mexico was missing that… story. You know, in Mexico and Latin America and Asia and Brazil, the consumer is very brand-conscious. Having Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Salvatore Ferragamo gives them a certain confidence and reinforces that they've made it. What we're doing with Silver Deer is getting rid of the aspect of status and putting forward style. We do this with a roster of different types of brands that have not previously been available in the Mexican market. They don't catch these brands when they go to London or when they go to New York or Paris or wherever they're going. They're still sticking very much to their mono-brands, but we offer something different.

BoF: Who is the Silver Deer consumer?

RH: Our consumer is a Mexican consumer from Mexico City, or a lot of Mexicans [from elsewhere] – it’s a country with 106 million people. Twenty-five million are in Mexico City, so all the other 75 million are dispersed around Mexico and they do all come to Mexico City. A lot of them come for business. It’s forming a business hub. I have businessmen coming in from other parts of Mexico; it’s very broad. In the beginning there was a lot of noise but now it’s becoming narrower and more focused for the 35-55 year-old consumer. My clients definitely like the European aesthetic more than the American aesthetic. So it’s a definitely a cleaner, more sophisticated look that they’re looking for.

BoF: Did you alter your approach to store outfit to fit the Mexican menswear market?

RH: People like to say that Mexico is 15 or 10 or eight years behind a more developed country like the United States. So you can just take something that's been done and feed them that, or you could just start off and say, 'We're going to do something completely different, and give them an experience that they will find in New York or London or Paris or Japan.' That's where we started. It's an inviting environment. The inspiration was Scandinavia, in terms of the look. The clothing is special, the space is special, and everything is luxe but contemporary luxe, not like Berluti luxe or Louis Vuitton luxe. It's very much our own definition. You have to tell that story: of the brands, of the product, the lifestyle. It takes imagination – a lot of imagination – but it is worth it.

BoF: How do you engage consumers with that story?

RH: They come in and they’ll be like, what is this? Myself and my staff, we all wear the product and everything is well executed. And they recognise that we’re doing something different. That is the beginning, and then we basically start up from the beginning. The ones who are intimidated, we’ll approach them and explain that we’re a multi-brand men’s clothing store and we have brands from Italy and Japan and the States and Europe. You go into this space and you have all these brands thrown at you that you don’t expect would be in Mexico.

BoF: Why would you not expect them to be in Mexico?

RH: Some of the brands aren't in Mexico and abroad, my consumers go buying in the main streets in each city. They go to Madison and they see the Berluti store, and the John Lobb store, and the mono-brands, and that's kind of where they go. But they don't really know much about Boglioli or Incotex for example; I am building something that hasn't been built in Mexico. I'm a personal fan of Thom Browne so I have introduced Thom Browne in Mexico. Nobody knew he existed two years ago and now there's an article on him in every men's magazine, GQ, Esquire… the list goes on.

BoF: How do you approach educating your consumers on new brands and new styles of dressing?

RH: People come into the store as a blank slate. Well, a lot of them. Some guys that come in are decked out in Louis Vuitton or everything they’re wearing is a brand name. I can see the guy and I can see what sparks his interest. That is where I am going in terms of finding new product and presenting them with a new first class product, in a market that doesn’t have any multi-brands. They do know what feels good and what fits well. They can recognise that, and they can recognise whatever they’re wearing is fine, but what I’m putting forward is something different that they haven’t seen.

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