Konstantin Vulkov: You’ve studied Business, Economics, Fashion Merchandising Management and even Hotel Management. From what we see at Trunk Clothiers the one thing that really inspires you is Fashion, but thanks to the other things you are a successful businessman, correct?
Mats Klingberg: I get inspired by lots of things all the time, so can be anything from seeing a well-dressed person on my walk in to Trunk, when shopping in Fukuoka, dining in Stockholm, reading a magazine, having a drink in a nice hotel in Sao Paulo, when seeing a nice house in New Zealand or when meeting a nice customer in the shop.
To me Trunk is more about creating a space where it’s great to work and that inspire our customers and make their shopping easier and more enjoyable than the fashion itself.
Fashion is of course very important, but to be successful I think it’s important to get all the pieces to the puzzle right, so that’s where my studies and experience from hotels and the corporate world play an important role.
Konstantin: How important is the sense of style in order to have a small shop that features a curated selection of goods?
Mats: I think it’s very important to know what style you like and want to offer your customers and then stick to it. Trying to be everything to everyone usually doesn’t work. There needs to be something that connects everything in one way or the other to create a well curated selection of goods even if they come from brands from different parts of the world, have different price points and are in different categories.
Konstantin: Your shop, I was there a month ago, when I had a layover in London, is like a small globe, a fashion map of some countries from the world, that you’ve obviously travelled to. Tell us three inspirations from your travels?
Mats: I’ve always loved travelling and my inspiration to start Trunk came from travels all over the world. Japan and Italy have probably inspired me the most, but being from Sweden I get a lot of inspiration from there as well.
Love Japan for their attention to detail and impeccable service and presentation. Shops like United Arrows, Beams and Tomorrowland are all in the top globally when it comes to retail. Always a true joy and great for inspiration to visit. Their buyers always go the extra mile to find new things for their customers. They go to the big trade fairs of course, but they are the ones you also see get on trains and go to the middle of nowhere to find that extra special item.
Italy has an incredible tradition of fashion and family run retail businesses where generations of shop keepers have been serving generations of the same families. They know each other very well, so it’s more about building a long term relationship than making a quick sell. This builds trust and creates a very nice atmosphere the people feel comfortable spending time and shopping in. A Gi Emme in Como is one of these shops that truly inspired me and that I keep going back to at least once per year.
Always love going back home to Stockholm. Such a beautiful city with lots of water everywhere that you even can swim in. There’s also lots of great shops and restaurants, so the perfect destination for a long weekend any time of the year. Nice and cosy in the winter and light and full of energy in the summer. Ett Hem means A Home and is my new favourite home away from home and also an inspiration for Trunk when it comes to service, design and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Konstantin: In a way your shop is an analogue one - there are classics, not fashionable items…
Mats: Very true. I value things like provenance, quality, design and timelessness over the latest and trendiest.
Konstantin: So if you have to start today, would you change your mind for the selection you have in store?
Mats: I wouldn’t, but with the experience I’ve built up and connections I’ve made over the last couple of years the focus going forward will be on developing more of our own items.
Konstantin: How important is the online sales business vs. the physical one?
Mats: The physical shop is the heart of the business, where everything comes together, you can meet the team, touch and try on the clothes, get advise, etc. Online is increasingly important, but I see that more as an extension of the shop. Many of our customers live in different parts of the world, so thanks to the online shop we can maintain a dialogue with them even when they are not in London.
Konstantin: What was your first goal when you set up the business in terms of financials?
Mats: My first goal was to see if there was an appetite for a shop like Trunk and if I could run it at a profit. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do, but I didn’t have much retail experience, so I was very pleased about making a profit already in our first year of trading.
Konstantin: Tell me about the location. It is just a little bit unexpected, but suddenly it will become a different thing - I saw the Andre Balazs hotel just across the street.
Mats: A year ago most people had never heard of Chiltern Street, but thanks to Andre Balazs’ hotel the Chiltern Firehouse this is no longer the case. I’ve lived in Marylebone since I moved to London ten years ago, so Chiltern Street was one of the locations I was considering when I was making plans for Trunk. It was during this time I met Andre through mutual friends for the first time and when he told me he had just acquired the old fire station and was going to turn it in to a hotel the choice was easy. I love it hear. Super central and close to everything, but still very nice a quiet.
Konstantin: Do you have a daily regime for your work or every day is different?
Mats: Every day is different, but if I’m in London I usually get to the shop at 9am and then at 10:50am I have a brief meeting with the team before both shops open at 11am. I’m then around all day catching up with the members of the team, spending time with customers in the shop, in and out of various meetings and catching up on e-mails until 7pm when the shops close.
Konstantin: Tell me your program for today (it is Friday)?
Mats: Fridays I tend to keep the day as free as possible in order to have time to plan for the week ahead and clear up anything outstanding for the past week. This usually means catching up on all the e-mails I haven’t had time for over the last couple of days.
This morning I placed one of our last orders for next autumn/winter season. It was for a new brand from Japan that I’m very excited about getting. I think Trunk will be one of very few shops outside Japan carrying it.
I also need to make my final decision on which fabrics to use for some Trunk jackets that we’re making for next season.
Later in the day I’m meeting up with the Chiltern Firehouse to talk about some opportunities of doing something together.
Konstantin: Your plans for the summer?
Mats: Summer always means a lot of work mixed up with several holiday breaks. Buying usually kicks off in June with a trip to Florence and Pitti Uomo followed by lots of showroom meetings up in Milan. There’s a couple of days gap in between, so I usually find time to go somewhere nice and this time I plan to go to Forte dei Marmi. Then the buying continues to Paris and then London and potentially also New York and Tokyo.
I’ve recently fallen in love with Sudtirol in Northern Italy, so there will be a couple of trips there for sure as well as Sweden and Switzerland.
Konstantin: Finally, tell us a song you really love to listen now.
Mats: Swedish Lisa Ekdahl’s song Daybreak is a good all favourite that always reminds me of nice and breezy sunny summer days in Sweden.
--- Mats Klingberg, the Swedish founder of Trunk Clothiers, one of London's most expertly curated menswear shops. Visit the store: 8 Chiltern Street, London, W1U 7PU