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The English Cut Suit and Hip Hop

Posted by Joyce on 04 December 2008

Today was a very incongruous day. 

Inside one of London's most revered bespoke tailoring firms, I shook hands with a record producer who sells sneakers on sushi-bar-style conveyor belts as part of his hip hop clothing line. 

My decision to come to London Business School was predicated on getting exposed to different examples and avenues of success when it comes to business. One could argue that location isn't important anymore... given how connected the world is online. But tell that to the century-old shops on London's "Golden Mile of Tailoring", or the young, mega-star jetsetters who want their suits made the old-fashioned way.

Stepping into Anderson & Sheppard felt like stepping into a time machine. Their history is steeped in the pages of their appointment books and the patterns that hang on the rails of the cutting room. Seeing it all resurfaced a question I've been pondering for awhile now: are we too fixated on this notion of "growth"? Much of what we learn here in business school is concerned with growing revenues, growing profit, growing market share, etc. But what about doing things simply and excellently, without the ambition of global expansion? Would that exclude you from being "a successful business"? I think I have my answer. When you're the best in the world at what you do, the world comes to you.

So, many thanks to the people Anderson & Sheppard who patiently explained how everything worked in their cutting room. Student life can be hectic, but I definitely recommend visiting some of the local or more traditional firms in and around London (in addition to the time we spend courting our large corporate partners). This is London--there aren't many other places in the world where tradition and history so seamlessly co-exist with cutting edge modern times.

To end, here is a picture of sneakers on a conveyor belt.

Bape

(Photo Credit: BAPEXCLUSIVE store in Tokyo. Taken from www.bape.com)

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