Ted Baker CEO Talks New Fashion Valley Store
Ray Kelvin brings irreverent style to San Diego
The Ted Baker of London store has landed in the Fashion Valley Mall. Known for its eccentric CEO (Ray Kelvin), rare customer service and unique store designs, Ted Baker has become one of the leading British brands worldwide. Founded in 1988, the concept is to make every store unique. Balboa Park along with the San Diego and London zoos inspire the design of thew new San Diego location. Complete with jungle wallpaper, live parrots, toy elephants, and traditional red double decker toy busses, the store is not only filled with cutting edge designer clothing for men and women, but also makes an indelible impression on every shopper who enters.
The Fashion Vallery store will be the fourth Ted Baker location in southern California following stand-alone stores in LA, Santa Monica and Costa Mesa.
SanDiego.com spoke with Ray Kelvin and asked about him about his one-of-a-kind non-marketing strategy for advertising, San Diego fashion, and why he named the store Ted Baker and not Ray Kelvin.
Describe the store concept?
Ray Kelvin: The design of each Ted Baker store is unique, with whimsical details inspired by the city in which it is located, which sets us apart. All of our stores are infused with an irreverent sense of humor and meticulous attention to detail that is an extension of our product design. All of these components, in addition to the high level of customer service, create what we call “Retail Theater” and ensures a memorable experience.
What are some of the most interesting clothing details new customers should look for?
RK: In all of the collections we have focused on color, fit, and lux fabrications. Menswear continues to offer updated classics alongside edgier pieces that can be layered and combined to create one's personal style. In women’s wear, we continue to offer key prints and subtle embellishments.
Define "classic British" style?
RK: British style is about layering, precise fit and tailoring. The concept is the ability to look put-together, even at your most casual.
Why are you opposed to advertising?
RK: I started the business by trying to find alternative ways of building brand awareness. At Ted we always like to do things differently, like creating unusual window displays, which become talking points, and engaging customers through our own quirky language and culture. I felt that not advertising was the right thing to do when I started out, and I stuck to that, preferring to grow the business through carefully considered expansion of the collections and stores. At Ted Baker, we believe our retail stores are our best advertising.
Was the free laundry done on all Ted Baker shirts an effort to add buzz to the brand?
RK: Offering free laundry service was a way to provide an engaging shopping experience and connect to our customers in a personal way. We may no longer offer the dry-cleaning.
What are you hoping people will think as they walk away from the opening party at Fashion Valley Mall?
RK: We hope guests will walk away as loyal Ted Baker devotees.
Why did Ray Kelvin name the brand Ted Baker?
RK: When I started the company in 1988 it was a huge risk and I wasn't sure if I would succeed. I did not want to be known as "Ray the Bankrupt." When I called potential investors, the name "Ted Baker" also seemed friendlier over the phone and was very well received.
Are there areas of the world where you'd like to see the brand, that it doesn't exist in now?
RK: As a global lifestyle brand we currently have stores in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Next year we will open stores in Tokyo and Beijing.
Which celebrities would you say embody the Ted Baker brand?
RK: Our luxury collections are designed to be accessible to all so we wouldn’t look at the brand in that way. However, we do have many celebrity fans. Recent US stars who have worn Ted include Taylor Swift.
Name some key TB pieces you'd recommend every customer have when they start collecting?
Ray Kelvin: I were to pick three items each from the collections: for men it would be one of our slim fitting tweed blazers worn with a pair of colored cotton chinos for a smart but more relaxed take on tailoring, and a “Passion” suit in lustrous metallic tones for smarter occasions. Women’s wear has seen a return to more tailored looks, so a softly draping blouse in teal worn with tailored wide leg trousers would carry you effortlessly through the season. For dressier occasions it has to be our 50’s style chandelier print dress which is a key piece in the collection.