Vaatturiliike Sauma was founded in 2004 by tailors Olli Holstikko and Tuomo Pynttäri. The store moved to its current location by the beautiful old church park in Helsinki four years ago.
Olli and Tuomo were both taught the trade by master tailor Jouni Korhonen for six years in Helsinki.
When he passed away in 2004, Olli and Tuomo founded Sauma together based on the old company, Jouni Korhonen Oy.
After working a few years as strictly alteration and bespoke tailors they slowly started adding on accessories, ready to wear and made-to-measure.
Their store selection includes over 30 brands and with product portfolio expanding from bespoke suits to fragrances.
JB: Tuomo, so after starting out just the two of you, how many people do you now employ?
TP: Well, it’s Olli and Me with three full-time staff members but we also have one to two part-time staff members.
JB: Can you see any change in your clients’ buying approach during the last couple of years?
TP: Yes definitely. After moving to our new location we nowadays get people who pop in randomly compared to when always came with a clear agenda. Of course our selection has changed and grown during the past years which also has led to more people stopping by.
One thing I’ve noticed is that more young people that come to the store know exactly what they are looking for.
JB: Do you feel that the change has been more in taste or rather a spending approach?
TP: I feel that they’ve gone hand-in-hand as we’ve maybe seen a bit of a upswing so people have been spending a bit more.
Young people also spend much more and are extremely knowledgable about what they want. They also shop for different reasons than just buying a suit for work, they’re more into the whole thing as a lifestyle. The older generation shops because they have to and the young out of interest. Due to this younger clients like to wear suits even during their past-time, a bit more old school if you could say so.
JB: Would you say your clients are influenced by what they see on social media channels? And what’s your opinion on that?
TP: They definitely do and it’s good. I see no harm in it. One thing I find funny is when people try to directly copy things they’ve seen on social media.
It’s a good way for people to get influences, earlier peoples taste didn’t evolve as much because they weren’t submitted to as much influence. It was only that one trip to New York per year and two trips to Stockholm.
I very much see the faster tempo in influencing peoples taste as a good thing.
JB: How do you rate the fast and accessible information that the social media platforms can provide, bearing in mind that a lot of information means also some bullshit, misleading or incorrect?
TP: It’s always hard to look for solid truths in dressing. Some things as construction and rules is how something is supposed and should be done. Regarding style it’s a bit different, the fit can be such a matter of taste that it really doesn’t have a right or wrong answer. But it still has – too small is always just too small.
Many people also take style things as facts and how things are supposed to be. Sad but true. That thing is then a fact in that persons life and how things are supposed to be, we do our best to help clients with that. So that everybody could get what they want.
JB: Does your store use social media platforms to promote the business and products? Can you see any benefits from there?
TP: Yes we do, but of course we could use it more and better. The benefits we see is that it really pays off to be there where people go looking for their inspiration. Some posts even sell straight away but unfortunately some miss their audience completely. It’s also a nice way to get discovered by new clients.
JB: Have you experienced a change in the approach from your manufacturers?
TP: I feel they listen to us very carefully in regards to e.g. Stock service which many try to their best to succeed in but none really have yet.
Some manufacturers have also talked about moving away from the classic seasonal collections, something which would be very welcome.
JB: what do you think are the most important factors for a supplier of yours (existing or future)? What makes you add one more brand/manufacturer to your brand mix?
TP: Quality, trust and the fact that it sells. There are many brands that look very nice but really aren’t that commercial. Brands that I like as a person but not as a store-owner.
The product really has to have a justification why it’s in the store, of course it can be a showpiece but everything has it’s boundaries. You can’t be buying in three seasons of a brand for just show.
A big part is also the communication and relationship with the brand, how they handle complaints and faulty products etc.
JB: Can you name two or three names of brands or products that you will never kick out of the store?
TP: Service, it’s a product and we’re not givin up on it. We always want to serve the customer and we also offer e.g. Alteration tailoring. It’s not the sexiest of things but very important for us and belongs to our core. Of course made-to-measure is something that we’ll always have. So I’d say Tailoring, Made-to-measure and good quality service are three things will never part with. Jouni always said that “We’re born to serve” which has stayed with us as kind of a tongue-in-cheek motto.
JB: Can you name one brand or product that you would like to carry in-store but is currently not there?
TP: A very high quality and hand crafted suit, crafted outside of our premises. Something that has the finish of bespoke. That could be it. The problem is always finding the customer who values it and a reasonable price point.
JB: Please define your store with three words.
TP: Tailoring, Made-to-measure and Expertise.
JB: Where do you see the biggest external competition?
TP: At the moment I’d have to say e-commerce, of course we follow what other brick and mortars are doing but it really feels like the competition is online.
JB: Where do you see your store in three years?
TP: Physically at the same place. With a larger selection of bespoke offerings, a growing made-to-measure service and a strong e-commerce side.
JB: Can you tell me the biggest mistake you think you’ve made lately?
TP: Everyday I get the feeling that something could’ve been done differently but nothing bigger.
JB: What does “Shopping Experience” mean to you?
TP: That the customer gets what he wants. That we can solve the customers problems. They’re usually not the greatest problems in the world but still such that affects his personal life. When a customers comes to us with a problem and leaves with a feeling of it being solved, that’s what makes me happy. Of course if we can’t solve their problem we’ll do our best to send them to someone who can.
JB: A friend of mine is going to move to Helsinki next week. Why should I advise him to shop at Sauma?
TP: Because the threshold to enter our shop is very low, he can stop by even tough he only needs to get his jeans hemmed. We don’t look down on anybody and love to have people in our store.
article by Jens Beck
thanks Tuomo Pynttäri for your availabilty!