Carlton menswear retailer offers personal service

Bonaparte Mens Boutique
Bonaparte Mens Boutique
Carol Saffer

Bonaparte Men’s Boutique has been a fixture on Lygon St in Carlton for 22 years.

Owner Horst Schoeps, who has been in menswear retailing for 47 years, said when he first opened Bonaparte, the street was a bustling destination.

“People used to come to Lygon St at night, so this gave the store a lot of exposure,” Mr Schoeps said.

He said the secret to his longevity and success was providing top-quality merchandise.

From the front door back to the change rooms, the shop is exceptionally well stocked with an abundance of jackets, shirts, trousers, knitwear and accessories.

Mr Schoeps said the stock didn’t date as it was classically tailored and sourced from Europe.

He travels to Germany to buy each season’s merchandise and has already purchased his summer 2023 range.

Bonaparte is a traditional retailer that doesn’t offer online shopping.

“It doesn’t work for us; the customer has to try it on and has to be advised about alterations to make it tailored to fit the best,” he said.

“We have long-term customers from all over Australia who return regularly to update their wardrobe.”

“Our customers come here to try the garments on, and the wives need to see and approve their choices.”

The store has a unique old-fashioned feel, a little like Fletcher Jones.

Most customers come in to be advised by Mr Schoeps of what is in stock and what would best suit their needs while taking their time to shop.

“It’s a relationship I have with my customers, they are more like friends today, and they sometimes bring sons and grandsons to be introduced,” he said.

“There are no other menswear stores like this around here.”

“The cheapest item on sale is hanky, and the costliest would be one of the $1500 cashmere overcoats, which if you went to Collins St, you would pay thousands more.”

Bonaparte Men’s Boutique is located at 235 Lygon St and is open Monday to Saturday. •

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