In the centre of Birmingham, Liquor Store is a menswear destination for well-dressed men
Phil Hazel is a stylish guy. Having worked in menswear his whole career long, it’s only natural that for the past 11 years he’s owned his own shop, Liquor Store, which is perhaps Birmingham’s best known and loved menswear retailer. On Colmore Row near Snow Hill station in the heart of the city, the shop is about as central as can be and is an institution to the city’s well dressed men, most of whom can’t go more than a week without popping in for a browse.
With a focus on contemporary independent brands and superior craftsmanship, Liquor Store is more about style than fashion, and offers – in Phil’s words – “quality goods crafted with love and longevity.” Sounds pretty good to us.
Tell us how Liquor Store came to be? Did you work in menswear previously, or was this a career shift for you?
Working in menswear alongside independent retailers, I’d always had a huge admiration for independent brands and endeavoured to one day own my own store. I looked to what I could bring to the retail landscape of Birmingham, my hometown. With support from my nearest and dearest, I opened Liquor Store in February 2012 and since then we’ve relocated to a larger premises, opened a secret Speakeasy bar and celebrated our 10 year anniversary. It’s been a rollercoaster in the best way possible!
Tell us about Liquor Store’s philosophy. What does the shop stand for?
Liquor Store’s philosophy has always been, ‘buy it well once’. The brands that we work with all have an ethos that aligns with this motto; producing quality goods crafted with love and longevity. We try to promote conscious consumerism so that you’ll enjoy your Liquor Store purchase for years to come.
You’re very proud of being independent, right?
We love that we can do things a little differently. We want Liquor Store to be a welcoming place for everyone and there’s a huge focus for us on the in-store experience, to the credit of our knowledgeable and passionate team. We’re proud to be part of Birmingham’s incredible indie scene.
How do you curate the store’s buy, or discover new brands?
Liquor Store is built on pillar brands that we want to work and grow with for years to come. When I was working in the industry, there were several exciting brands on my radar that weren’t available in Birmingham. I felt that I could bring these brands to the city and foster a great environment for them.
I’m happy to say that many of these brands remain a staple part of the business to this day. Even so, it’s important to evolve and grow by adding newness into our brand mix. Whether it’s discovering new labels at trade shows or brands contacting us directly, we’re always looking to work with people who share our values.
Do you have any favourite brands or new finds that you’d recommend our residents check out?
I’m particularly inspired by Japanese fashion, which is renowned for being innovative and high quality. Look to brands including ‘Orslow’, ‘Danton’ and the latest addition to Liquor Store ‘F/CE’, which makes stylish, functional luggage. I’m a huge admirer of how Orslow and Danton can take heritage product and put a contemporary twist on it.
What makes a man stylish today?
For me, style is having the confidence to enjoy clothes. My advice would be to avoid micro-trends and instead look at curating a considered wardrobe with a mix of interchangeable pieces in textures, colours or patterns that you love. Layering is a great way to build outfits; for example, gilets and overshirts add another dimension to a look.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in running your business?
Building great relationships is key. Good communication and mutual support with our fantastic suppliers has been essential; some of these relationships have roots that go back to my days working in the industry. This extends to our in-store operation too. We always strive to create an environment that people want to come into and be a part of, from customers to staff. People are at the heart of what we do!
Are there any other local businesses that you rate or admire?
We recently worked with Universal Works on a collaborative project to celebrate 10 years of friendship with the brand, which also focused on highlighting people who are doing great things in Birmingham. Included were Brad from Carters of Mosely, Dale from Hazel & Haydn, Marlon from We Go Outside Too and Adam from The Plough. I really admire each of their individual endeavours and really value their support of the store.