When Jigsaw won Retailer of the Year for women at the British Fashion Awards, many felt that it was well deserved. But in the arena of men's retailing, which company is currently kicking up a storm on the High Street? asks Melanie Rickey.
A few days before Jigsaw scooped their award, Reiss won the men's equivalent at the FHM Menswear awards, beating strong competition from Jigsaw for men. Reiss is not one of those shops whose image shouts "I'm hip and cool" from the roof-tops. Rather, it is aimed at men who want well designed, fashionable clothes that are affordable, not covered with logos and, furthermore, are available in smart surroundings.

The FHM awards were set up in 1995 to recognise the menswear fashion industry (which, incidentally, will raise in profile next year when the first London Men's Fashion Week takes place from 18-22 January 1998 in Chelsea), and Ed Needham, editor of FHM, is a firm believer in shops like Reiss both for his readers and occasionally for himself. "Our policy at the magazine is to show the clothes that men really want to buy," he says. "That means pages and pages of fashion where it is possible to see the clothes clearly, and actually to be able to go to the local shopping area and buy them." This has proved a successful policy for FHM. Needham believes Reiss, like Jigsaw for Men, have have opened up this middle market, and made it possible for men to make an informed decision when buying clothes, rather than relying on a wife/ girlfriend/ mother.

Reiss was set up in the mid-Seventies by Londoner David Reiss, an entrepreneur who began his business by selling designer labels. In 1987 he decided to set up an in-house design team and hasn't looked back. For him the award was a milestone: "It gave me a great deal of satisfaction. We've finally got recognition from both our customers and the industry."

The "total designer look" under one label has worked well, despite a few hiccups, and now Reiss is split into three strands: the main line, which is mainly tailoring; R-label, which is outerwear, jeans and jumpers; and Accesso-Reiss, which, as the name suggests, covers everything from sunglasses to underwear. Early next year they will launch RE, a casual sporty range, and for Autumn 1998 a capsule collection for women.

Their current best sellers are leather coats which start at pounds 295, chunk rib roll-necks jumpers, from pounds 59, and slim-fit shirts in stretch fabrics, also from pounds 59.

Reiss have 10 branches nationwide. Call 0171-225 4900 for your nearest stockist.