Marcus Fairfax Fountaine and Felix Favor Parker always wanted to work together, and took the chance to create their own luxury footwear brand
Drapers 30 Under 30 alumni and childhood friends Marcus Fairfax Fountaine and Felix Favor Parker set up Fairfax & Favor in 2013. Creating luxury men’s and women’s footwear and accessories inspired by British style, the brand is stocked in 70 locations across the UK. They decline to reveal wholesale prices, but retail prices range from £30 for a cap to £415 for knee-high boots. They speak to Drapers about lifelong friendship and why quality control is vital.
How do you know each other?
Marcus Fairfax Fountaine: We’ve known each other since birth. Our mums were pregnant at the same time. We used to go to birthday parties together when we were little.
How did Fairfax and Favor come about?
MFF: Neither Felix or I had any business experience whatsoever. After working in the footwear industry for six months, we decided that working for ourselves would be more rewarding. Since the age of 15, both of us had visions of owning a business together. Eventually, we threw caution to the wind, took the plunge, and bought 400 pairs of shoes, which we stored in my mum’s attic. The rest is history.
How would you describe the ethos of the brand?
MFF: Fun and relaxed. If you work hard and have good ideas, then you’ll succeed with us.
How do you capture a sense of British heritage in your designs?
Felix Favor Parker: All of our products are country classics and have been adapted for both country and town lifestyle. I believe this in itself defines classic British qualities.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you were setting up the business?
FFP: Cashflow. We started the business on a budget and, as we sold, we continued to reinvest. We both worked two jobs – it was tiring.
You have a busy social calendar and attend a lot of events such as polo tournaments. Why?
FFP: The events have been a great way for us to meet our customers in person. Building relationships with customers is important: you never know, they may eventually become ambassadors. You learn a lot first-hand about the products, and really, it’s just nice to see our products being enjoyed.
How do you stay motivated and creative?
MFF: When it’s your own company, there is never a lack of motivation: what’s there not to like? We can be as creative as we like – that’s the beauty of it.
What have been the highlights from running the business so far?
FFP: Creating employment and seeing our products being worn out and about.
Quality is key to the brand – how do ensure this is consistently high in your designs?
F: We have never skimped on quality control. We have a strong team, and they check the product before it arrives with us at HQ.
Is there anyone from the industry you particularly admire?
FFP: Ralph Lauren.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
M: I read Business for Punks, a book by one of the guys who owns [craft brewery] BrewDog. A couple of quotes stood out to me: “Cash is king, profit isn’t even the duke… Lack of profit will kill you in five years, lack of cash will kill you tomorrow”.
Favourite clothing brand
Favourite places to shop
Online – much easier
Last fashion purchase
Three pairs of Beaufort & Blake shorts for summer
Last book you read
Churchill by Boris Johnson
Last film you watched