The casualwear brand is determined to raise the profile of its Vintage line to cash in on its heritage.
Despite its image as a quintessentially British brand, casualwear label Farah – which next year celebrates its 90th anniversary – actually has its roots in El Paso, Texas, where it launched as a workwear brand in the 1920s.
“Everyone thinks Farah is a UK label because it is so entwined with the kids of the 1970s wearing it,” explains European managing director David Ward. After manufacturing product for the British Army in the Second World War, the now-iconic Farah slacks were designed as an alternative to denim, and from there Farah blossomed into the utility-tinged casualwear brand we know today.
Following a 2005 buyout by brand house Perry Ellis, which also owns Original Penguin, Farah entered a slightly confused period that at one point saw four sub-brands in place – the mainline, Golf, Collections and Vintage. It is now more streamlined into just the Farah mainline and the more youthful, heritage-inspired Farah Vintage, which launched three years ago.
Ward sees Farah’s 90th anniversary as a golden opportunity to lift Farah Vintage’s profile via a number of reissued key US styles from the 1950s, before the brand launched into the UK market. “We have big plans for Vintage. Heritage is a massive deal at the moment and we want to show we have a really interesting heritage that we can reissue in a new and trend-led way,” says Ward.
The reissued product will make more use of the 1950s archives with fabrications such as the cotton mixes used in the original US ranges. The pieces themselves have still not been revealed, but will likely sit as a standalone capsule collection in addition to the mainline.
Alongside this new product, Ward and his team intend to boost UK accounts for Vintage by 20% for spring 10 – adding 10 new accounts to the current 45, which include Selfridges and Urban Outfitters – and ploughing budget into the 90th anniversary marketing, including swing tags and point-of-sale material.
Although it only comprises 10% of the brand’s doors, Ward wants Vintage to grow to as much as 20% of the business in the next two years, with overall profits predicted to rise 8% by the end of the financial year (the brand would not reveal the figures). It is an ambitious prediction, particularly as the Vintage line is competing with similar ranges at labels like Lyle & Scott, which has created a strong buzz over the past few seasons.
“We see Farah Vintage sitting alongside Lyle & Scott Vintage, but we have a strong enough historical message to show we aren’t just producing heritage product because it is fashion led, but that it comes from a real design history.”
Number of UK accounts for Farah’s mainline
Number of UK accounts for Farah Vintage
Number of territories Farah Vintage is available in
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