(Bloomberg) -- Whether workers return to the office two or five days a week, they’re shopping to look the part.

British upmarket fashion brand ME+EM says demand is so hot it’s hard to keep up, with blazers priced from 275 pounds ($341) selling out in two weeks, six times faster than before the pandemic. That’s ironic for a brand that first made its name in loungewear and grew as customers adjusted their wardrobes to the pandemic’s work-from-home look. 

“We can’t sell a jogger for love nor money but you can sell everything for event, work and holiday,” said founder and Chief Executive Officer Clare Hornby, suitably attired in a check blazer over a woolen jumper and shirt. “It’s a complete shift.”

Triple-digit growth over the past year has helped ME+EM recently raise 55 million pounds from investors led by Highland Europe, which also helped fund Matchesfashion.com, to grow in the US, Australia and the Middle East. 

ME+EM plans to open 12 stores in the US over the next five years with one in Boston and probably three or four in New York, said Hornby, but the focus continues to be online, which makes up about 90% of sales. It’s too early to discuss store openings in Australia and the Middle East, Hornby said. 

The brand’s sales more than doubled to 46.3 million pounds last year while profits were five times higher at 11.4 million pounds. 

The company is the UK’s first direct-to-consumer fashion brand whose wares are worn by celebrities including Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Hornby, who founded the business with partner Emma Howarth, vows to stay a direct-to-consumer retailer, keen to avoid wholesale through third-party distribution channels.

“If you do anything whereby you don’t own the data for the customer, you’ve lost your entire reason for being,” she said. 

She is similarly emphatic that she wouldn’t IPO the business, having relied previously on existing investors Charles Dunstone, the executive chairman of TalkTalk and Venrex Investment Management, an early backer of makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury. For now, Hornby is focused on the customer and argues that if you’re answerable to analysts in the City, that isn’t possible.




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