From its skate origins to a global player, the decade-old brand remains steeped in the London street scene
Ten years ago, the team behind skateboard clothing distributor New Deal, which brought the likes of DC Shoes to the UK, decided to spawn its own label. Named after the area in London where the team skated, Fenchurch was born.
New Deal, which turned over £20 million annually in its heyday, is no more, but Fenchurch’s growth curve still sets a breathtaking pace under its current private ownership.
Creative director Christopher Isherwood joined as a sales rep six months after Fenchurch launched. “There were only three or four of us at the start. We’re a family,” he says. “Where else could a rep become creative director?” The founders were Ray Muchmore, Gary Nardelli and Marc Ball, and all remain as directors.
The brand has grown by about 50% year on year since its launch, says Isherwood. Even during the current difficult economic climate, the business has managed an impressive 48% growth in turnover to more than £10m for the year to April 30.
Fenchurch is now sold in 28 countries, with Russia, South Korea and Greece among the most recent markets added. Isherwood adds that the brand is setting up distribution channels for the US and Japan.
Isherwood says the UK remains crucial to the brand’s growth, particularly via independent retailers. “We want to penetrate further and get more capsule collections into indies,” he says. At the moment, alongside the two seasonal collections there are 10 capsules per year. “We’ve seen the key accounts capitalising on this and we’d love to get them into more indies.”
The “skate thing”, Isherwood says, is “just the roots”. He explains: “It’s where we came from and it ties in with UK youth culture, illustrative art and music. But, aesthetically, we make our collections more for kids who go clubbing.”
Its London heritage is also a powerful marketing tool, says Isherwood. “The UK is so vibrant and London is really eclectic. It brings different genres together and that’s what the brand is like.” For spring 10, the range is based on the UK capital, using its boroughs to create different looks. Skinny-jeaned Eastenders and indie kids both provide inspiration.
Overall, Isherwood says: “There’s a backlash against the really bright colours and it’s a bit more grown-up. The palette is more pastel, using late 1980s-styles turquoises, but it’s more punchy and closer to a primary shade. There’s an American influence too and, as a London brand, you have to use those eclectic references and mash it all together.”
Number of UK accounts, amounting to about 300 doors
Number of pieces in the mainline
Split between men’s and women’s sales in the UK
- Fenchurch 020 3110 0300 www.fenchurch.com