The eclectic womenswear brand has retail expansion in its sights.
It’s a bit like a UK version of Anthropologie,” says Fever creative director Matt Barker, trying to sum up the womenswear brand he founded with childhood friend David Bradbury in the late 1990s.
Fever’s first incarnation was as a surf-inspired label th at produced both menswear and womenswear but, as Barker and Bradbury grew up, so did Fever and today it specialises in quirky, vintage-inspired designs aimed at 30-plus women. While Anthropologie is a retailer, rather than a wholesale brand, it is a good comparison. The eclectic Fever collection features many 1950s and 1970s-inspired prints and is dominated by dresses. And, with prices starting at £22, it is pitched at the same price level as womenswear and short-order rivals such as St Martins, Great Plains and French Connection.
At Fever’s 200 UK wholesale stockists, pieces such as its perennial Dita shift dress are bought as office-to-day wear, but the brand has also enjoyed brisk trade from those shopping for bridesmaid outfits - especially for its Ivy dress, which was introduced in autumn 09 and is now tweaked and re-released every season (this season’s incarnation is Honeysuckle, pictured bottom right).
Wholesale prices for Fever’s 200-piece spring 11 collection range from about £22 to £32 for dresses, and the average mark-up is 2.5. About 40% of the business’s estimated £5m turnover comes from in-season orders. Stock items are usually available within “a matter of days”, according to Barker, but other items take two to four weeks depending on when the order is placed in the cycle, as product is made in China.
The Fever mainline sits alongside sub-brand Ruby Belle, which launched two years ago and offers similar vintage-inspired styles, but with cheaper fabrications and price points geared at slightly younger customers. Wholesale prices for the 30-piece collection range from £12 to £18, also with an average mark-up of 2.5.
The quirky feel of Fever’s designs sits well with retailers looking to cultivate an individual feel. Barker and Bradbury have elected not to take on any department store stockists, but have plans to expand the Fever retail operation from two stores - in London’s Eastcastle Street and Old Town in Clapham - to at least five UK stores in the next two to three years. “That’s quite a conservative estimate,” says Barker.
They also plan to open standalone stores in Rome next month and to develop Fever’s international wholesale business, which accounts for about 50% of turnover. The brand has about 600 stockists worldwide, with a particularly strong presence in Europe.
Number of UK stockists
Entry price for Fever mainline
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