Store of the month April 2022: Langes
It all started with Jennie Lange Karlsson’s grandparents who through a wedding gift came to start the store Langes, which now 70 years later is one of Sweden’s largest jeans stores. Before we appointed Langes the store of the month April 2022, we asked some curious questions to Jennie who runs the store with obvious energy and joy. We took the opportunity to find out more about what their biggest assets and challenges are, what she believes is the best way to inspire the customer and what the absolute best thing about running a store is.
Tell us about Langes, how did it all start?
Langes is a family business that was started 70 years ago by my grandmother who was a seamstress. She started by sewing clothes for the fancy people of the area – the priestess, the teacher, the landlord, etc. Everything from everyday clothes to wedding clothes. When she and my grandfather got married, they received SEK 400 and traveled to Borås, where they bought flannel shirts which they then sold at markets and dance pavilions. This gave a longing for more and they started a small shop in their basement. My dad Rolf joined the company early when he took over when my grandfather died. He has always been interested in designer clothes, curious about trends and clothes of good quality. So he expanded and established Langes as one of Sweden’s largest jeans stores.
I, Jennie, grew up “5 steps up”. My parents live in the house that is attached to the store, so I grew up between jeans and silk blouses. I have always had a great interest in fashion and trends. But studied to be a teacher, since it was important for my parents to have an education and not work directly in the family business. I am very grateful for that. I worked and enjoyed myself as a teacher for 14 years, then I felt that the time was right to change both my work situation and the Langes store. So I joined the company with lots of new energy, new ideas, and new power. Change, renew and improve! Langes needed new energy and with my new thinking, we started a new wonderful time at Langes, with new brands, new interiors, and crazy ideas. Going forward is the only way!
What type of products do you sell?
We sell designer clothes for both women and men. Brands that are both wallet-friendly and slightly more exclusive, but all with good quality and sustainability thinking. We also sell a large selection of accessories and have a cozy lounge at the entrance where we run a popular cafe. A wonderful meeting place!
What is the absolute best thing about running a store?
The best thing about running a store is that you are your own and control your own work. No two days are alike. You get a great outlet to be creative and take on challenges in different ways and you choose which arenas you want to play in. And to meet the most important person for us every day – the customer, who is always in focus for us at Langes. Then it is heaven to be able to surround yourself with beautiful clothes and things every day.
Photo: Hanna Lindahl (that runs the flower shop “Åbackens blommor” at Langes) & Jennie Lange / Picture from the store
What strategy do you have when it comes to the assortment you buy?
Our strategy when purchasing is that it should go out to a wide customer base, both men and women. It should suit an active businesswoman as well as a cozy “stay-at-home-man”. The customer should want to look nice no matter where he is. The idea of sustainability is important and that you buy from brands and garments that last over time. But also that you mix up trend-sensitive brands and dare to invest in new things. We buy an assortment that complements, lifts, and strengthens the customer’s personality and what it already has in their wardrobe. The goal is that everything in the customer’s wardrobe should be used in some way and in many different ways – and in several variants. Garments that only hang in the closet are expensive… We are careful with the color combination, pattern, and quality. In addition, we think carefully about how the garments are made in our store, how the “pendants” look and lift each other. Everything should blend together and look nice, inviting, and inspiring. We sell with the eye. Wow effects!
What would you say your customers appreciate most when they visit you?
I believe that the customer appreciates the feeling of recognition, openness, warmth, joy, and the great knowledge we possess. It gives the customer a sense of security. That we are brave, think new, are creative, and a little crazy. We are all like a family and the customer becomes part of it. In addition, the range is very large and varied, which means that it attracts many different personalities. We constantly receive new clothes and products as well as organize activities, happenings, events, and collaborations all the time. We never sleep!
The issue of sustainability is high on the agenda in these times, how is it in your industry and how do you work at Lange with sustainability?
Sustainability issues are very important to us. We work with them both in the store with our assortment as we largely try to choose brands that meet different environmental requirements and certificates. We encourage customers to buy and shop sustainably. We suggest wardrobe school and to find a complement to their existing wardrobe and not to make impulse purchases. We get to know the customer so well that we know which garments the customer needs.
Foto: Picture from the store / Brittmarie Lange (Jennie’s mother), Jennie Lange, Rolf Lange (Jennie’s father) and Christian Bengtsson (Jennies brother in law).
Which would you say is your biggest asset? And what would you say is your biggest challenge?
Our biggest asset is our new thinking and we roll up our sleeves and gas uphill. We are fearless, flexible, and dare to find new ways. We are positive and spread our energy and we see all our customers as nice family members. Our biggest challenge is our geographical location. We are located in the middle of the countryside, no place to pass at lunch directly… We must therefore think even more outside the box for the customer to see the benefit of actually visiting us.
What is your best tip for inspiring the customer?
Our best tip for inspiring our customers is to be constantly active and close. We are where the customer is. At Langes we never sleep, we invent new things all the time. We are like a small TV series that you do not want to miss an episode of. In short, we are incredibly active on social media and that is the tip I would give people. We offer ourselves and do everything to make the customer feel confirmed. If the customer can not come to us, we come to the customer through e.g. Live shopping, “Lunch Live broadcasts”, Facetime shopping, daily updated Instagram and Facebook feed, and stories. We answer our customers through voice calls, it becomes personal and closer. We also give the customer more than one garment, we also sell a part of ourselves, and we sell with the heart.
What do you think is the biggest driving force the customer has to want to come and shop in a physical store instead of online?
The personal meeting, social community, and help as well as personal service in real-time.