I've had precisely two gelatos, two ice lollies (addicted to Solero Fruit Ice Pineapple at the moment) and two ultra rich dizzying scoops of honey and whisky ice cream at St John's in the last fortnight.  Those who know me will know that my non-existent sweet tooth doesn't normally tolerate sugar-laden treats so that's a fair amount of ice cream action within a short period of time.  To add to that heavy dose of ice cream, House of Holland has rolled into town with his take on the British ice cream van – the Mr Quiffy van, a venture that has been previewed by Business of Fashion as a creative and cost-effective solution to trialling direct-to-customer retail.  

Last Thursday, the Mr Quiffy van, which Henry Holland had sourced from Newcastle via Gumtree, made its debut, stopping at all the major publications and newspapers in London before officially opening for its first weekend of trade at the bustling Piazza in Covent Garden.  I went along to find that already, ten minutes after opening time, a horde of people was crowding around the van, perusing the "menu" of items for sale.  They weren't buying 99 Flakes or raspberry screwballs though.  They were choosing from a cute n' clever Mr Quiffy collection, consisting everything from ¬£15 iPhone cases to a ¬£120 stripe/polka combo dress.  Holland himself, was already becoming part and parcel of the Mr Quiffy experience as passers-by queued to have their pic taken with Holland, who is perhaps one of London's most recognisable-by-face designers with his presence in British media.  Pairing a pop n' graphic-heavy brand like House of Holland with an eye-catching vehicle stationed at locations with heavy people traffic, was already proving to work like a treat.  

Even if people walking pass didn't necessarily know what House of Holland was, they were intrigued enough to stop to look to find out what it was all about.  That's potentially a customer waiting to be converted.  What was impressive was the way the ice cream van melted away (couldn't help myself) barriers that sometimes prevents people from walking into an icy fashion boutique environment.  People were coming and asking questions and there was a refreshing dialogue that might not have taken place, if House of Holland was tucked away in a physical shop.  Obviously House of Holland's friendly price points is a factor in the sale conversion ratio, but it makes you wonder whether high fashion product housed in this mobile vehicle context actually might make things more approachable – think about if the likes of Chanel or Dior set up a mobile van for instance.  The nostalgia-laden experience of chasing an ice cream van down the road, following its twinkly tunes and spending your pockets of pennies on a sweet treat or two, is something that can so easily be upgraded and transferred to fashion with the right brand and context, and House of Holland are the first fashion brand (in the UK, I think…) to see the benefits.    

I hopped aboard the Mr Quiffy van to have a look at operations from within.  By offering a limited range of product that doesn't necessarily have tricky sizing issues (although when the van rolls up to Seven Dials on the 15th August, there will be a physical storefront to accompany the van), there are no difficulties in offering stock to public, and with a nifty portable PayPal payment device that links up to an iPhone, the van can roll about town taking card payments with ease.  On the customer front, I particularly loved encountering one flame-haired lady in her forties/fifties, who was looking for a colourful peppy t-shirt to go with her Vivienne Westwood Anglomania skirt.  She was wondering whether to go for a Mrs Quiffy shirt or the spots and stripes tee.  I wouldn't have thought she was a HoH customer at first glance but that's the sort of insight the van can generate.  Holland said that on the flipside of this fun summer-appropriate venture, he is seriously thinking of opening a physical store in London and is using the van to research various areas to find out more about his customers.  The ice cream van is a great way of starting direct banter with the people buying your products, which in effect is the best possible field research that you can do.  

Of course, none of this is relevant if the product isn't pitched at the right level.  iPhone cases, scarves, New Era caps, different colour ways of the successful "On a Promise" sunglasses and enamel jewellery are easy trinkets and accessories to sell.  Clothing wise, the graphic characters of Mr and Mrs Quiffy (drawn out by the ever prolific Craig & Karl) on cheeky t-shirts and easy-to-wear board shorts and visually grabby prints are signature House of Holland fodder and also easy to buy into.  To coincide with the launch of the Mr Quiffy van, House of Holland have also upgraded their website to make online shopping even easier.  In fact, people buying product physically at the van can do returns and exchanges through the website should they want to do so.  

The Mr Quiffy tour will also be making its way outside of London to Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham and Leeds over the next few months, where Holland will learn even more about a customer that so often gets ignored when London designers project images of their clientale.  There's a lot of information and knowledge to gather from this experience.  And a lot of fun too judging by the one hour I spent hanging around Mr Quiffy.  

IMG_9298

IMG_9292

IMG_9278

IMG_9282

Hohvan

IMG_9285

IMG_9303

IMG_9307

IMG_9313

IMG_9315

IMG_9270

IMG_9231

IMG_9203

IMG_9194

IMG_9212

IMG_9204

IMG_9190

IMG_9187

IMG_9261

IMG_9263

IMG_9210

IMG_9219

IMG_9214

IMG_9213

Stripe-dress

Mrquiffytee

Mrquiffy1
Mrquiffy2

Schedule

Comments (24)

  1. WOWS says:

    So cool and refreshing idea!!!
    Kisses from
    http://www.withorwithoutshoes.com – My Bloglovin
    Today I show you a Fresh and Cute Klein Blue dress……perfect for summer!!!.

  2. Great outfit ! :3
    Love, unicorns and glitter on you. <3
    Florian,
    http://www.like-enchanted.com

  3. So so clever. Fantastic example of modern day experiential retail. And actually only something that a mid-level designer brand could pull off. For the Diors and Chanel’s I think it would be too inclusive, but certainly for Kenzo, MBMJ, Kate Spade and popular entry-level junior ‘luxury’ (I use the term loosely) brands of that ilk – absolutely!

  4. Denisa says:

    Oo, perfect pics. Have a great day.
    http://www.fashiondenis.com/

  5. Q says:

    Henry is one of the nicest people, I worked with him in the past and that smile you see is genuine!….. The ice cream van is a very cool idea.xx
    http://www.myclayexperience.com/

  6. susie_bubble says:

    I think when I used Chanel/Dior as examples, I meant as a social experiment – what if we put very very expensive products in an ice cream van, do people become less “scared” of these products? Do they seem more/less appealing? Would you see an uplift in sales from people passing by the van compared to people going into a Chanel/Dior store?
    But yeah, agree that realistically, the ice cream van set-up would be perfect for the brands you mentioned.

  7. Mel says:

    This is such a awesome idea, like a spoiled child I’d want them all!
    http://melly-go-round.blogspot.co.uk/ x

  8. Nicola says:

    Love this collection! So fun and British for the summer!
    http://www.thestylecheck.com

  9. Abby Saadeh says:

    Thats such a great idea. I love the sunnies so much
    luxeandcub.blogspot.com

  10. This is bloody awesome! 8th September has been added to this brummie’s diary.

  11. That’s such a great idea. Everything is sold out of vans these days! I guess it beats paying rent on a shop in Soho.
    http://angeliquejennifer.blogspot.com

  12. CeCe says:

    That is a great idea! Love the different type of marketing and I think it will make people less scare of expensive brands. What a pity they are not coming to Scotland, would love to go and see the van!
    http://www.ceceisblogging.blogspot.com

  13. Elen says:

    I absolutely love this blog, the ‘eye for an eye’ sunglasses are amazing and I’m going to have to try and get a pair for myself.
    thepurplesketchbook.blogspot.co.uk

  14. Elisa says:

    Cute collection!
    With love
    Elisa – My Fantabulous World

  15. INTIZ says:

    This is so cute. I love House of Holland. Thank you for sharing the photos and info Susie. Take care :)xo

  16. Law says:

    This beyond cool, what a clever and fun thing to do! I will have to try and catch it. Love your photos as always xx

  17. Absolutely brilliant idea…….. I see springing up even more greater ideas and strategies in the nearest future of fashion!

  18. Denise says:

    Despite being a lover of colour and fun clothes, I have to admit I never did quite get House of Holland, though I do like what I’ve seen of the man himself. However, if Mr. Quiffy rolled up my street I would be shrieking with delight and probably become an instant lifelong fan from the association of the experience. In fact, the photos alone may have converted me. This, I get.

  19. Trendstop says:

    So excited for this! We can’t wait to get our hands on the cute midi dress!
    From the Trendstop Team
    http://www.trendstop.com

  20. Deadly Bite says:

    That’s a pretty interesting idea. Would be nice to have store-trucks driving around my street LOL

Comment below