From one shop in Norway to 430 stores in seven countries: «Our humour and culture is our most important asset», says CO-director Leiv Martinsen.
«I feel very lucky», Alise Lundquist says.
«Because I have to men that I deeply love in my life: My husband, and Dressmann».
She may laugh as she says it, but she still means every word.
30 years after she started her first job in Dressmann, the now district manager of Dressmann in Northern Norway still seems smitten with her work.
«I can’t think of one day when I don´t wake up, excited to go to work with my team. Is that common? I don’t think so», Alise says and laughs again.
«But all jokes aside: It’s not just me who feels this way. We have a very unique humour in Dressmann. To say it simple: We are just genuinely happy».
Almost 20 years before Alise joined the club – in 1962 – Dressmann opened its first store at Grünerløkka in Oslo – an area which today is now known for its trendy boutiques and cafes.
The store, named Frank Varner after it´s at the time 25 year old founder, quickly rose to the occasion. Inspired by London fashion and rock culture, Frank Varner introduced men clothes which brought something totally new to Norwegian market.
The store became a huge hit – and on special occasions one could see long lines of eager men and woman going round the block.
During the coming years and decades, Dressmann stores subsequently opened at a record pace all over the country.
But Norway was only the beginning.
Today, with nearly 430 stores in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Austria and Germany – including web-stores –Dressmann has become Scandinavia’s largest clothing chain within men’s fashion.
Taking the North
Leiv Martinsen, CO-director of Dressmann, has been on the frontier of Dessmann’s adventure abroad since the beginning.
In the early 1990s, along with three other guys, he decided it was time to look beyond Norway.
«Actually, we started out with little Iceland», Martinsen says. «No one knew who we were, no one had heard of us there, but it was an immediate success».
From that point on, Martinsen knew they could «take the North».
«We took Sweden by storm in just seven years. It was incredible, I have no other words for it», Martinsen says while reminiscing a certain Swedish memory:
«One day, we were in a small town, heading through a roundabout when we saw a Volvo commericial in the middle of it. It said ‘We congratulate you with your new Volvo-store’. I then thought, why don’t we create that kind of a buzz? And so we did. We made every store in Sweden a happening, and we even had mayors calling us, asking ‘when are you coming to our town’?»
According to Martinsen, it was Dressmann who opened the door to the Swedish marked:
«After we broke down the barriers, BikBok, Cubus and all the other brands could follow».
Although the CO-director gets excited when talking about Dressmann’s expansion, he gets even more so when he talks about what’s happening on the inside of the company.
«You know, no one ever leaves Dressmann», The CO-director states while laughing. And although it may sound a bit intimidating, it is the complete opposite.
«Most of those who start out as a store manager in Dressmann don’t quit to work somewhere else. They stay in the company, often working their way up. That is such a pleasure to see».
– So, what’s Dressmann´s big secret?
«Our company’s culture is, and has always been exceedingly important. We laugh so much, and that is our greatest asset», Martinsen says and continues:
«I am a hundred percent sure that it is our driving force and culture which separates us from the bunch».
«I do hope – and think – that our joy and content rubs off on the customer. Because you can fake a smile, but not for long», she says.
In addition to the the humour and culture, the CO-director points out that the pieces naturally are important as well, swearing that «he always, and only, wears clothes from Dressmann».
«I think we from the beginning filled a gap. We have always taken men clothing very seriously. We bring the honest, nordic style to the table. What you get is ‘value for the money’, and we have stayed true to that concept», Martinsen says while adding:
«At the same time, I think we have been good at renewing and modernizing. Some years ago, there were maybe some who looked at us as a bit mundane. But that is definitely not the case now».
Leaving 50 years of happiness behind, Martinsen ensures us that the party’s just getting started.
«We are looking at Europe to see where we can open next», the CO-director says, a bit secretive.
In turns of district manager Alise Lindquist, she has no plan to leave her man just yet.
«I has been such a fun and crazy ride. I can’t wait to see what’s next».