Multibrand womenswear store Hengelo – founded in 2011 and based in Surrey, UK – targets customers of all ages.  Here, co-owner Kate Payne gives us a glimpse into the running of the store and its eclectic selection, within which denim plays a major role.

Please describe Hengelo in a nutshell.

Hengelo is a destination fashion boutique and online store for women of all ages. Spanning the generations in our eclectic mix of clothing, accessories and gifts, we want our customers to have an amazing shopping experience whether it’s in-store or online – they must feel happy and confident to shop with us again.

Hengelo is a family business owned by myself and my brother and sister. When we were children, we lived in Hengelo in Holland, and that’s the story behind the name of the business.

What defines the brand-mix aside from the ageless appeal you described earlier? And which brands do you currently stock?

We stock a mix of clothing, accessories and gifts – some of our key brands are Paige Denim, Maison Labiche, Second Female, Donna Ida, Parka London, Insane in the Rain, Olivia Burton watches and Ortigia lifestyle products.  The brands are all contemporary and easy to wear for working women with families and busy lives.

Hengelo from outside
Photo: Hengelo
Hengelo from outside

Will you add any new names to the assortment for SS18?

We’ll be expanding our resortwear collections for SS18 as this is an area that we see increasing demand for. The same goes for lifestyle products, and this is an area we are looking to develop in 2018. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new accessories brands.

What are the criteria when considering new brands and designers?

The quality has to be great, whilst the brand must appeal to a wide range of women and be within the right price point for our customer. We don’t take fashion too seriously so we look for brands that are fun and easy to wear.

Which types of pieces have sold well so far this season? Any surprise hits?

Velvet has done extremely well this season and anything animal-printed.

We sell lots of denim and we have really seen this category develop in recent years. Features such as print, fraying and embroidery have contributed to the widening appeal of jeans – they’re so much more than a wardrobe staple these days. We’ve done extremely well this year with Donna Ida’s denim collection, which we’ll expand in-store next year.

 Inside the store
Photo: Hengelo
Inside the store

How do you source new labels – trade shows, online and/or elsewhere?

We mainly go to agencies or tradeshows, and we sometimes discover brands online via social media. But, increasingly, more brands come to us. We’re always looking for new ones, and we like to constantly change and add brands so that our customer never gets bored.

Who’s the customer and how do they typically shop?

Most of our customers are women between their late 30s to late 70s. They all want quality clothing that is contemporary and well designed – something that’s easy to wear from day to night. And no matter what our customer’s shape might be, she needs to feel confident.

How do you stay in touch with your consumers?

We contact our customers regularly with updates online and in-store and we regularly hold brand events in the boutique. We’re very active on social media – it’s a great way to give our brand more of a character and widen the exposure. It’s not just about the products but who we are and what we represent.

 Inside the store
Photo: Hengelo
Inside the store

Tell us a little about the store interior – who designed it, what is the feel of it?

We actually bought an existing boutique, so the design was not entirely ours – we bought the shop and all the stock within it, and over the years we’ve made changes, making the business our very own. It was a huge risk when we took it over, transforming it into a high-quality boutique. We’re located in a country town and the boutique reflects this environment with wooden floors and luxurious changing rooms.

How important is e-commerce and how does it complement the physical space?

E-commerce is vital to our business and our main area of focus. It complements the store as many people browse online and then come in to see us. Once they do visit the store, we can show them additional products that are available online. The website definitely enhances the customer experience for the physical store.

Any news in the pipeline?

We’re planning to develop our website further in 2018, currently reviewing the whole site to ensure that we invest more in order to enhance the customer online experience.

Store details:

8-10 West Street
Surrey GU27 2AB

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