Indochino, Next Generation Retailer | Dean Handspiker
Dean Handspiker has traveled the world in his career of retail and store design. From the beginning, Dean was focused on the internationality of visual merchandising while working with brands that were reinventing themselves. After his travels abroad with various companies from Europe, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Czech, etc. he made his way back to Canada, bringing the best of his learnings in each country to his current occupation as Vice President of Product and Store Development at Indochino.
Indochino is a company focused on revolutionizing men’s fashion, with made to measure suits and a truly unique store concept. It is one of the things that drew Dean to the brand in the first place.
“Indochino was the next generation retailer that allowed me to do and experience something truly new.”
Used to working in an international capacity, with companies based around the world, we were curious if the customs and perspectives of different cultures have affected the way in which Dean works both personally and professionally.
“In Europe, it changed the way in which I work, and my communication style. I worked with so many colleagues that spoke English as a second language or third or fourth, and that forces you to communicate more effectively, efficiently, and directly. It requires you to take a different approach than we do sometimes here in North America.”
When discussing his biggest life achievements, Dean focuses more on the moment, being extremely proud of the work he has produced with an amazing brand like Indochino.
“Right now, I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved at Indochino in the past 2 and a half years. Essentially, we created a retail concept that is fresh and experiential but also extremely profitable. And that is a true accomplishment with the changing of the retail sphere. We did it as a group but specifically on my side, I oversaw the new retail concept, involved in finding spaces for our new showrooms while focusing on expanding our retail presence and our new showroom openings. It is truly an exciting time!”
“I like to think that I have blended some of the best things from each country I’ve worked in.”
What enticed Dean about the brand is this idea of next generation retail, something he firmly believes Indochino is at the heart of.
“Next generation retail means we have a limited inventory model. It is a more efficient model. It allows us to show our clients that honestly and demonstratively, we represent a better value. You are paying a lot less for something better.”
Indochino’s retail platform is composed of showrooms instead of stores. The customers’ experience is extremely different but equal to, if not more important than, the standard retail store experience.
“It comes down to the service. Regardless of the environment or the design, we, as employees, spend just as much time with the clients when they are in the store. So it comes down to making each and every person feel important and taken care of within our showrooms.”
With so much going on at Indochino, it is no surprise that a typical day for Dean starts very early, his first email response going out of his inbox at 5AM.
“I am an early riser. I try to send most of my emails so they are in people’s inboxes before 9AM. Once I get to the office, it’s fairly structured. As a group, we have scheduled meetings, interdepartmental meetings, leadership meetings, team meetings etc. But each day I try to carve out at least an hour for project based focusing on store design or even research, trying to look up what’s new or different. I am done by 5PM and that’s when I hit my reading list of what’s happening in design, what other companies are doing, what’s happening on social media, who out there doing interesting things etc. Time allowing, inspiration can really be found anywhere.”
Half the time, Dean can be found travelling, from the opening of new Indochino showrooms to vendor visits. But even away from his desk, Dean cannot work without…
“My iPhone. My handwriting has become terrible so I take photos of everything and make notes within it. My team has gotten used to receiving a photo from me and figuring out from there what we need to do or change or fix!”
Dean’s personal aesthetic in his home actually stems from his professional aesthetic as well.
“What’s interesting is that the showrooms of Indochino are more of an extension of my home than my home is an extension of me. Because we open our showrooms in a very tight timeline so I developed them through what I knew best through colors and textures and tones. So the showrooms look very similar to my own personal aesthetic. The attention to detail that is required in retail spills over to my own home as well. And each move for me, I treat like a new store opening where I give myself and the new home 48 hours to be photo ready!”
“There are also way too many books without words in my home, there are a lot of picture books of various designs”
If you are looking to pursue a career in visual merchandising or retail design, lucky for us, Dean left our readers with some advice…
“When I look back on my career, what I am most appreciative about is that I have been in positions where I have been able to contribute to the direction of the brand. So if and when possible, seek out roles where you are exposed to the influences of the brand, where the direction of the brand is going etc. In my experience, it has just been so rewarding and fulling.”