With a fairly gruelling Dragon's Den experience under his belt and THE IDLE MAN's 1st birthday fast approaching, we thought now would be a perfect time to catch up with our CEO, Oliver Tezcan, reflect on his what he's learned so far and to find out what's next for the store.
On Past Experiences
As young kid in London in the early-90s, my friends and I would dress head to toe in Moschino and Iceberg “mad-offs” and go to jungle raves. This was my first experience of using fashion to identify with a tribe, it felt that you belonged to something special, you and your mates against the world and it was amazing.
From then on I graduated through Gucci loafers and champagne during the garage years of the mid/late nineties, and into the horrors of “nu-rave” in the noughties. By the time I left university I had decided that fashion buying was the best use of my skills and I took a job as Buyer’s Clerk on the denim dept at River Island. From there I moved to Asos in 2006 to launch their menswear offer. After 8 years building the Asos behemoth I felt the time was right to strike out on my own and create the retail concept that men deserve.
What I love about menswear is that it’s not about fashion, it’s about looking appropriate. We men identify with tribes, not what some random designer is sending down a catwalk. Men are skaters, mods, dandies – we are influenced by an aesthetic rather than a trend. I launched The Idle Man because menswear on the high street is dominated by women’s retailers doing a bit of menswear as an afterthought, but women shop very differently and so men have been under-served.
Because menswear is more limited in scope than womenswear it is easy for any man to look great, so long as he has the right guidance in what key pieces to buy to create a capsule wardrobe that works for all occasions. The Idle Man’s aim is to take care of that process by only selling things we would wear ourselves, in a curated way so a man could almost fill his basket at random on the site and achieve a great look.
My dad was an entrepreneur – we used to call him Del Boy, so I think business has always been in my blood. What’s interesting about being a fashion buyer by training is that you get very exposed to the numbers side of a fashion business, and you quickly realise that if you get the right product, at the right price and at the right time, everything else takes care of itself. I launched The Idle Man in mid 2014 and it’s been the steepest of learning curves – from writing a business plan, to securing finance, to building the operational side of the business, it was all new to me. It’s been an amazing and rewarding experience and I would recommend it to anyone.
On His Dragon's Den Experience
Dragon’s Den was fascinating. It’s a new panel this year, and for most of the Dragons my piece was one of the first they’d ever done as it was only the second day of filming. As such it was a lively atmosphere as they were trying to find their feet and make an impression. Touker Suleyman is a new dragon, and a Turkish rag-trader, so it was pretty obvious that we had some synergies and he gave me a pretty good going over!
Nick Jenkins (the founder of Moonpig.com) had a lot of really useful advice regarding digital marketing which was worth going on the show for in itself. Ultimately I didn’t have the leeway to negotiate with the Dragons as we are backed by private equity, and that didn’t go down too well as the Dragons feel their experience should be rewarded above and beyond what a regular investor would expect to get. I got an offer from Touker, but it was for more equity than I was willing to give away so I had to politely decline.
On Plans for the Future
The Idle Man has the opportunity to be the menswear destination of choice for young men globally. We are very UK-centric at the moment and do no marketing internationally, but in the near future our aim is to roll out a European and US website. We are also actively hunting in slightly off-key locations for a premises for our first physical space: we envisage a multi functional space that would be part shop, part studio, part event space that would continually change and evolve to reflect the brand values of The Idle Man.
Find out more about his Dragon's Den experience, as well as his top tips for survival here.