After a decade in business, Fenchurch is still sitting pretty. Established as a skate label by a group of buddies, this brand has since thrived in the streetwear scene and produced some of the most wearable designs on the market today. With an eco-friendly conscience and a playful, spirited mind, Fenchurch has proven their determination for success. A brand that has transcended both backyards and the mainstream, founder Marc Ball talks to Format about the good old days, whatâ€™s next, and what happened in between.
“Then of course, being taken seriously as a streetwear fashion label is no easy task. With so many amazing designers and brands coming out of London this takes time.”
Format: Please give us a brief history of the brand and how it was created.
Marc Ball: Fenchurch has been going strong now for ten years. It was born out of a desire to make clothing that we felt our customers, as well as ourselves, would like to wear that we were simply not getting from other brands. Ray Muchmore, my business partner of Fenchurch and all previous ventures, was the driving force. He thought we could pull it off, I did not but the rest as they say is history. First orders were less than $100k and we now sell millions of dollars.
Format: Who makes up the Fenchurch family?
Marc Ball: There are five main owners of Fenchurch clothing, but a family of around 30 people working full time on the brand; however, that’s only the London family. We have over 100 people now representing us in over 20 countries. It’s a big family and I’d like to say thanks to all those family members for the massive contribution they all make.
Format: What was the hardest thing you had to overcome as a new brand trying to find its place in the industry?
Marc Ball: I guess getting people to try something new. Luckily we had a lot of contacts that believed in what we were doing so this was something that we did eventually overcome. Then of course, being taken seriously as a streetwear fashion label is no easy task. With so many amazing designers and brands coming out of London this takes time. I’m pleased to say this is something we no longer have to worry about but something that takes a lot of time to achieve. There are no shortcuts here, but consistently great on trend ranges and great marketing and on-time deliveriesâ€”that was our recipe for success.
Format: Why did you decide to transition from skate to street fashion?
Marc Ball: We were getting a lot of enquiries around five years ago when many things in skate culture were being passed on to the mainstream. Some key fashion retailers in the UK around this time tried out our ranges and they were very successful. As we moved forward into these retailers we naturally progressed from skate stores to fashion boutiques. I’d like to mention that we still have some board sport inspired retailers so the roots are still there.
Format: Tell us about Fenchurch Friendly.
Marc Ball: Our customers were telling us that they wanted a defined ethically endorsed organic clothing line. Friendly is a sub range of clothing using only organic cottons and manufacturing processes. We work with different makers, the processes are longer and slightly more expensive, but it’s a range we will certainly be expanding.
Format: With so many positive charities out there today, why did you choose Bottletop as the one to lend your support to?
Marc Ball: We totally believed in the guys that were doing this and what the charity was producing in terms of help. We had talked a lot about giving something back to society through our brand and got many offers of involvement; this one just felt right.
Format: Tell us about the Fenchurch Bottletop bag and tee.
Marc Ball: Basically two amazing products where we give 100% of the proceeds to the charity. We work with the charity on design and product ideas on what we will bring to the market. The tee designs were by an artist named Jim Staten and a company called Red Design.We had some fantastic celebrity endorsements on these new items which really does help us give more money to the charity. Annie Lennox, Paris Hilton, and Peaches Geldof to name a few. Go and buy them please.
Format: How would you describe the Fenchurch demographic?
Marc Ball: Young, funky individuals. Male or female, loves to look great whether smart or casual.
Format: What were the inspirations behind your Spring/Summer 2009 collection?
Marc Ball: The great British summer! To us, the summer is such an exciting time in our calendar as we are renowned for some pretty bad weather. The collection is bright, breezy, and easy to wear.
Format: Your website has a section called “Fun” which contains Fenchurch games, wallpapers, screensavers, e-cards, ringtones, and phone wallpapers. Was there a strategy behind adding these extras to your site, or was it simply a means to give something back to your customer?
Marc Ball: We wanted people to have fun when visiting our website. Our Web designer Matt is one of the most talented designers I’ve ever met. Itâ€™s a great outlet for him creatively and something for our customers; pretty simply really.
Format: Fenchurch continuously presents events in both the UK and overseas. Are there any events in the works for this summer that we should look out for?
Marc Ball: There sure are. Bloc Festival England, with band Aphex Twin headlining. Check our website for details; it should be an amazing gig/collaboration. Also some new things planned with Kaos over in Canada so watch this space.
Format: What does the future hold for Fenchurch?
Marc Ball: More fresh clothes, some exciting collaborations, a real extension into some exciting new product categories, more charity work, and most of all a whole lot more fun.