Let's get physical

Over the past 12 months we have been exploring the opportunities to take our online business into the real world of physical retail


The DressCode journey never fails to surprise, intrigue and challenge the team. From the initial idea, inspired by a print glitch, through all the R&D that confirmed the hunches, developed the product and created shirts designs that have come alive, being integrated with payment tech (CashCuff), expanding our environmental credentials and collaborating with experts in the climate and digital spaces through new wearable tech advances and onwards into a design led recycling programme.



When the opportunity to develop a physical retail offering was presented, we were all very excited because we share a common passion for interacting with people, face to face, sharing the things that we love, in style showing respect for our beautiful planet.



It’s widely acknowledged that physical retail spaces, when done well, enhance the connection between brand and people, providing the opportunity to live and breath the brands in ways that no technology can match. Forrester call this process “The 6E Strategy For Digital Store Transformation”


Creating DressCode on Oxford St, London

I have to be honest, the merest thought that DressCode could have an Oxford Street presence was a real goose bumps moment for me, and several other people in the team. When I heard about the MeanWhile Oxford Street project I was instantly captivated.

I have worked within several retail areas including food, consumer goods/tech, furniture and luxury hospitality, always looking to create engaging in-person experiences.

The Oxford Street opportunity felt…well there's only one word for it...MASSIVE! Both in terms of the potential for the brand awareness and the opportunity to show London what we do.

It’s not every day that you have the chance to do something new, establish a new way of using these spaces and the activities that happen within them. As the saying goes, location, location, location. The opportunity to add something new to this globally recognised hub of innovation and style, was something that we couldn’t ignore, in fact quite the opposite, we needed to ensure it didn’t take over.


Creating a physical store

This chapter of our journey, 4 weeks of intensive development and planning, created the DressCode physical retail business model. A three dimensional business programme that would create a physical presence with people, engaging in community, sharing our passion for sustainable production and diversify our model, possibly creating multiple revenue streams.

There is no denying that was going to be a challenge, a significant challenge. Time was, as always, the most important factor, we had a month to nail this. We needed to pool every resource available to us, across Busy as AB, DressCode and beyond, to our networks and supporters.

There were a number of documents required in order to apply, these included a full business development plan - complete with cashflow, profit and loss, stock management and supply, employment and training, insurance, services etc etc. There was a lot to do before we even started thinking about what this would look like and how it would work.



Reframing the financials – looking at new revenue streams, opportunities and collaborations

Physical retail carries significant overheads, something that has seen several large brands exit the space, reducing costs and delivering via online platforms. There are many reasons for this, but the one that always amazes me is the lack of imagination that is used within the physical retail space. Let’s be honest, there are loads of options for where to buy your goods, and they all look and feel very much the same. Large rooms, packed with rack after rack of product. It’s all pretty stale and I believe, this lack of creativity is the root cause of so many businesses failing.



What I see are large businesses that have honed a business model over a period of time, refined their processes, found sweet spots and assumed that it was job done. Simply copy and paste and make the odd tweak here and there. They ignore what people, the real people, with whom they want to connect, want from them.


What could we bring into our space that would change this?

We had a lot of ideas and the team felt that there was a need to test and try things before we could categorically rule things in or out. So we embraced 3 cultural uses of the space – design, inspiration and education.


Creating a design lab, a place for everyone to experiment with all types of design, try new things, explore new ways of doing things. Opening the door to access design in all it's many forms, both physical and virtual.  Celebrating that diversity and shining a light on the new, burgeoning talents.



Stories and speakers, sharing their journeys from all walks of life, insights, experiences and the life lessons that made them who they are. This would include artists and designers who work across all kinds of media, showcasing work and exploring new technology.

We also want to bring people and art together, get them interacting, making large format pieces of art, which could include music and other performing arts.


There is so much that we want to share with people about how we can use our clothes, both physically through repair and re-use workshops, but also mentally through the power of enclothed cognition. Our current list includes...
Used clothes exchange
Your clothes and the environment
Investing in clothing
Sustainable production practices
Sustainable purchasing – what to look for as a consumer
Clothes styling and stylists – helping people with their choices and looks


Being part of a real life community, first person interaction, fun and laughter

Making a positive contribution to society - employing, entertaining and inspiring others whilst creating a feast for the senses. There is no greater interactivity then real world, something that we want to make accessible to all. This is us living our values day in, day out.



Unfortunately Oxford Street didn't work out. There were over 2800 applicants. We made it through several rounds and were part of the final cohort. However...

Date for your diary

We can confirm that we will have physical presence in central Cambridge within The Grand Arcade at the end of September 2024 as part of a collaboration with other sustainable fashion brands. Where we will also reveal a brand new product! More details nearer the time.