Brand owners Ross Worswick and Scott Shashua speak candidly with Sports World Magazine about their journey so far and plans for the future.
The Couture Club, what a journey you lad have had with the brand, tell us how it all began?
I always wanted to be involved in fashion but never went to university as I was racing cars at the time & couldn’t give enough time to studying. Scott went to University to study law and qualified in 2014 as a Solicitor before going on to set up his own Football Agency which he still maintains.
We actually met in way back in 2010 in the nightclub industry.
We ran parties mainly in Manchester, London and then Marbella and Ibiza in the Summer, had some Crazy Night Outs and became close friends.
Scott had a lot more business experience myself, but I loved fashion and clothes so knowing I had filmed a tv show and it was going to air soon we decided to set the business up so that once I went on tv we could use the platform to build the business right from the off.
We started by getting clothes made in the UK for the first 6 months (and when I say clothes, I mean t-shirts lol) and with very limited cash! We could only make like 20-50 prints per style, wait for them to sell out and then reinvest so cash flow was pretty much non-existent especially as we were always pro forma.
We saved up as much as we could and will never forget the tipping point which was Black Friday 2016 where we managed to do our first tracksuit order in time for the sales and they were a real hit. Sales, and basket value naturally boosted as we had more options which meant we could order more styles going forward allowing the business to grow naturally.
We then started looking at jackets and different items at the time we were buying these from wholesalers in Paris and re labelling them as we still couldn’t reach the minimums of the factories., This soon changed, and we moved our manufacturing over to turkey. As the quality improved so did the orders. Still just Scott and I we really struggled to strategize growing the business as we were si caught up in the day to days pending every minute picking and packing, on customer service, shoots, merchandising the website and contacting influencers.
We decided we needed to outsource some of these areas and so we partnered up with a fashion agency who took on all the fulfilment and customer service which meant we had more time to design and market the business.
We had access to there Design team who I worked with to design new lines and new products, something that took weeks before now took days. We built the business to a stage where we were placing bigger orders and got payment terms with out factories so we could really ramp up the business and this is what we did. Since then we have opened 3 stores and the brand is now and internationally recognised brand.
You both started with just five thousand pounds and no financial investment, a little like ourselves here at SWM, tell us how you’ve managed to grow into an International brand?
We were very resourceful & I think the fact we only had £5000 at the very start us helped us the whole way through. It taught us to find a way to market the business on a very low budget. A combination of having smaller launches but more often which gave our customers always a reason to go back to the site & having a good network of friends that help promote the business in the early days before paid influencer collaborations helped massively. Plus having a personal following that meant we could get the product out to a wider audience from the start.
Talk to us about the quality of your clothing…
Since day one, our main aim was to offer designer quality clothing but at high street prices and we still pride ourselves on this, some of our factories supply for really high end brands charging hundreds of pounds for similar products. We want to offer affordable luxury.
Where does your inspiration come from for the styles you create?
As many independent brands we seek a lot of inspiration from the high end brands, off- white, FOG, Mike amiri, but we also look at a lot more of a commercial aspect to this. We try to take small details of inspo from a designer brand and then look at it with commercial eyes. The majority of customer base wouldn’t wear a lot the the crazier designs, but with toned down colours, Couture club fits and putting our own unique spin on it makes it wearable for a larger audience. We tend to go to Los Angeles, China, Japan & South Korea once a year where I also take a lot of inspiration from the different culture and styles.
What does the word ‘fashion’ mean to you?
I think fashion to me personally (ross) is a way of expressing your personality and persona by how you dress and how you style the items you buy.
Describe a typical Couture Club outfit for both men and woman?
Tough one, I think the men’s and women’s are still very different in what sells best for me Men:
Nice pair of slim jeans, not to skinny, blown out knees, Slightly oversized t-shirt. With a hoody over the top and a bomber jacket, few necklaces and a nice designer pair of trainers.
I feel is slightly more casual and would be more down the route of a comfy essential tracksuit that you could wear to lounge around or you could even wear it to go shopping with one of our leather jackets over the shoulders with the hood hanging over.
Why did you both choose fashion as a career?
RW: I have always been interested in fashion. Since I was about 14/15 I have always been saving up to buy those odd designer bits when and where I could. I always wanted to end up in the industry and to be able to of designed a lot of products my self and built the company to the level we have with Scott has just been a dream come true.
SS: For me its more about the business, ive always dreamed of running a multi million pound turnover business since I was a kid selling sweets at school or working the markets with my dad. I am addicted to it.
Tell us about the people that work for you… As the owner of the brand what type of person do you look for?
We always look for passionate hard working people that pay attention to detail as in the clothing industry this is so so important. They have to love what they do and be constantly motivated as fashion never stops evolving and every week there is new trend or new colours that people are wearing so you’ve always got to be ready to redevelop.
You guys are one of the only young independent brands on the market that has stores in some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, do you feel this compliments your online sales?
Yeah 100% this was a huge step for us as it was going against the grain and not at a time when everyone is moving away from retail we decided to go into it. The reason we did this is because we believe in our quality and there is no better way for a customer to see and feel it than going into your store and seeing it for themselves. It definitely compliments the online sales & also gives the customer the real life shopping experience aswell, which definitely helps build trust with the customer as there is a lot of’ Instagram ‘ brands now.
How has instagram impacted your business?
Hugely. We will always admit that if it wasn’t for social media and the help we have had from friends and support from influencers and high profile customers posting we wouldn’t be where we are today. Everyone starts off with 0 followers and for us to be 4 years in and have 350,000 followers and growing is a great achievement. Instagram is still one of the no1 platforms that drives sales to our website so we understand its importance.
We understand you shut one of your stores for the WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, what was he like?
He was brilliant really. Neither of us expected him to be so friendly or actually want to chat. We expected the usual shut the shop, entourage comes in he shops the store while we chat to his agent and then off he goes. But it was quite the opposite, he was interested in the brand, the story, and our back grounds. I don’t think either of us realised how influential he was, I think we got more messages about that than anything else that’s happened with the brand.
We are tight lipped about your upcoming collaboration with an England international and premier league player… but what other cool stuff does the brand have coming up?
We have just launched our own APP, which for still quite a small brand is amazing & again none of our competitors on our level have one so this was great.
We have our first proper official kids collection launching first week December which we are excited about.
We are looking at opening another store in 2020, Possibly Birmingham.
Like you mentioned, we should be able to shout about it soon but really excited about working with a Prem & England player next year for our most exciting Collab.