Skopes, the Leeds-based tailoring brand is a retailer with a difference, thanks to its enduring ethical mission, and its managing director and chairman, Simon Cope.
From luxury to high street brands, consumer attitudes towards ethics are driving change across the fashion industry. Savvy shoppers are increasingly seeking ethically conscious brands and companies with a strong commitment to social responsibility.
Company values have become such an increasingly important part of consumers’ purchasing decisions that many brands are developing values-based strategies to drive entrepreneurial success – think Elon Musk, who has built an empire on Tesla’s green credentials and the values it shares with its dedicated consumers.
Leeds-based Skopes is a brand with social responsibility at its heart. The company – the top tailoring brand in House of Fraser for the past three years – has long been a supporter of charities across the UK.
JLife caught up with managing director and chairman, Simon Cope, who insisted that while many companies develop strategies for social responsibility, Skopes’ ethical outlook stems from good old family values: “My grandfather established the business almost 70 years ago and it is still essentially a family-run business with family values. These values dictate much of what we do in the business; how we deal with people outside the company and how we look after our own people,” said Simon, who has been on the board of directors for over 35 years and has been chairman for the past 25 years.
The business evolved rapidly in the past three decades, catering to increasing demand from customers, keeping up with technological advancements and diversifying its portfolio to cater for new audiences. Skopes’ range now includes the ‘Heritage Collection’, the everyday ‘24/7 Collection’, the ‘Commuter Suit’ as well as its mainstay – the traditional, beautifully crafted and high quality ‘Skopes Collection’. This year, it is on course to sell over 1.3 million garments.
Despite rapid growth and diversification, some things have remained the same according to Simon: “We still deliver the highest quality based on the Cope family traditions and we believe in building an ethical brand.
“It’s my view that every successful brand has a responsibility to help others,” he added.
In 2016, Skopes gave a “significant portion” of its profits to charitable causes. Its charitable associations include Sparks, the UK children’s medical research charity dedicated to funding and pioneering research into conditions affecting babies, children and mums–to-be, championed by House of Fraser. Through its association with House of Fraser, Skopes has helped to raise over £1 million in the last five years which has been distributed to a number of charities.
Skopes also supports the Yorkshire Air Ambulance; PhysCap – a charity devoted to improving the quality of life for children suffering from severe physical and mental disabilities, St Vincent’s homeless charity; and the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board (LJWB). Paul Gowland, director of fundraising at Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: “We have worked closely with Simon and the team at Skopes for many years. The support we receive from them helps to save lives across the region. This is invaluable to so many people.”
This sentiment was echoed by Elizabeth Bradbury, CEO of the LJWB: “Skopes and its MD Simon Cope have generously supported the work of the LJWB. Simon’s care and passion for others has meant that we have been able to work with significantly more vulnerable children and their families in North Leeds, helping them to deal with domestic violence, poverty, childhood disability, special needs and broken families. Without Simon’s help we wouldn’t have been able to do this.”
“Many brands have a very strong history of supporting charities and have done so for many years,” continued Simon, “There are small sacrifices that can be made that do not jeopardise business strategies or bring terrible hardships and will help others.
“Life is difficult for all of us at times and we all have financial commitments, but it’s always possible to find a way to give something that could make a massive difference to someone else. You never know when you might have to call upon the help of your local or national charities for yourself and your family.”
Despite Simon’s strong family values permeating every aspect of the Skopes outlook, he is not a lone voice in the company when it comes to its ethical stance: “We are a tailoring company, we make suits, but we are a people business from the top down,” he said.
“As well as our core duties of developing a sustainable business strategy and creating a stable and secure working environment for all 240 employees, our responsibility as the board of directors of Skopes is to support national and local charities. This is the company’s ethos. This is what Skopes was built on and will continue to be built on.”
As consumers become more socially conscious and look for brands with values that align with their own, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers will have to find new ways to inspire purchasers and manufacture genuine relationships with them, no doubt leading to scepticism from some consumers as to the authenticity of their intentions. This is where Skopes differs. There is nothing forced or cynical about its approach to ethics and charity, such is the company’s dedication to doing the right thing.
If you are looking for high quality garments from a brand that values its positive impact in the community as much as the quality of its garments, then a Skopes suit may well be a perfect fit in more ways than one.