In 2009, Nelson Yap started Benjamin Barker as an attempt to pay off a family debt.
He began his foray into the retail business by working on the shop floor of his late father’s business. During his stint as an employee, it dawned upon him that keeping things “status quo” would never break the family’s never-ending cycle of debt.
After meticulously analysing the menswear industry, Nelson identified a gap in the market — there was luxury fashion and fast fashion, but nothing to serve consumers who were looking for something in-between.
His discovery eventually led to the establishment of his seven-figure business.
Building Benjamin Barker
Nelson took a brave leap of faith and re-mortgaged the family home to kickstart his idea. He opened his very first brick-and-mortar store in 2009 — and the rest, as they say, is history.
The homegrown label now owns 11 stores across Singapore, one franchise in Melbourne, two franchises in Cambodia, a joint venture in KL, as well as two cafes in Singapore.
Commitment to Quality Fabrics
Despite having been in business for nearly a decade, Mr Yap still makes it a point to source for his materials personally.
“The selection, curation and approval of fabrics and designs have always been under the watchful eye of Nelson himself. He still personally goes out in search of fabrics and buying trips to ensure that nothing is left to chance,” shares Marketing Manager Mr Joel Tan.
Kudos to Benjamin Barker for their enduring commitment to quality over the years — they probably don’t have to go the extra mile to impress, considering that they have already gained some brand equity in the menswear industry.
According to Mr Joel Tan, who helms the marketing department, the brand prides itself on serving “those who care about the little details, the tasteful finishing touches.”
As a brand that’s committed to “curating the finer things in life for the discerning gentleman,” it appears that the label builds trust with their customers by implementing high standards for themselves, delivering only fabrics that are of impeccable quality. Every minute detail matters.
Beyond Bespoke Clothing
Benjamin Barker is crystal clear on the kind of consumers they want to appeal to, and this translates seamlessly into their branding approach. When we asked Mr Joel Tan who he felt Benjamin Barker was made for, his answer suggested a focus on promoting a lifestyle — not just a product.
“Benjamin Barker is made for the discerning gentleman — those who appreciate the finer things in life from the clothes they wear, the accessories they use, right down to the food they eat.”
After opening two cafes in Singapore, The Assembly Ground and the Benjamin Barker Cafe, it’s become evident that the brand is adept at curating not only bespoke pieces but tasteful culinary experiences as well.
While Nelson was a student in Melbourne, he worked at a local suburban cafe and was inspired to open a cafe of his own someday. His business partner Damien Tan had paid his dues in the F&B industry during a highly-coveted apprenticeship under one of Italy’s most renowned pizza masters, Gaetano Fazio.
With the aim of creating a holistic lifestyle approach for the brand, coupled with Nelson and Damien’s expertise in F&B, the brand’s venture into the F&B business felt like “a natural progression”.
Engineering The Experience
Customer experience is a huge part of branding, and Benjamin Barker engineers an in-store customer experience that is quite uniquely its own.
Branding in the BB Business Strategy
Joel finds branding to be intricately linked to consumer perception. “It’s about weaving art into the fabric of life,” he says.
“This is why we put so much effort into the store experience, the visual merchandising, and all the little nuances that make up what the brand is.”
The brand has, indeed, gone to great lengths to shape the perception of the Benjamin Barker label.
From offering only hand-picked quality fabrics to engineering an immersive and on-brand in-store experience, coupled with their venture into the food business, we’d say that Benjamin Barker has positioned themselves effectively in the minds of their customers. TOC
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