The Couture Club - Ross Worswick exclusive interview SS23 collection
May 23, 2023
With the launch of our latest collection ‘Club De Couture’ for SS23, we sat down with Ross to decipher exactly what inspired this collection and the pieces within it, as well as what the journey for The Couture Club looks like in 2023 and beyond.
So what's the inspiration behind your latest collection?
One of our main focuses at the moment is elevating the brand, especially from a product perspective - the quality of the product, the details on the product, and also creating more of a minimalistic look.
We wanted to create everyday pieces that can be dressed up or down - and the US hip-hop scene has definitely inspired this. From the fit of the pieces to the quality of the materials, we wanted to create an identity for our customers. These are pieces for every occasion, but they can also be worn for any occasion too. You’re not limited by dress code constraints and rules, but you’re embracing them and turning them on their head.
You touched on there about creating an identity. Can you speak a little bit more about that?
I think for us it's not so much about what we're trying to attract, but the feeling we’re trying to create. And I want everyone to feel special, whether you’re wearing a going-out outfit or an everyday tracksuit. I want people to feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin. So it's more for me about the feeling we’re creating, enabling customers to create their own identity from that.
Love that! So looking at the challenges that you faced when you were creating this collection, were there any that you stumbled upon in the design process or idea generation?
Yeah of course. We’re on a journey to try and make better quality pieces, with that uniqueness that The Couture Club brings. But better quality often means higher price points, so we’re in the process of trying to educate ourselves and our customers on what this means for them. We’re super focused on sustainability, so the better quality, the less likely our customers will need to replace items. We want our pieces to grow with our customers, so we really focused on those quality materials in this collection.
For example, I love the fact that the vast majority of my friends have still got OG The Couture Club pieces - even t-shirts from seven years ago that they’re still wearing now! So improving on that quality and highlighting that to our customers has probably been the biggest challenge with this collection. We’re not a ‘fast fashion’ brand and we never will be - which is something we definitely pride ourselves on.
In the past, we’ve concentrated on flash sales and that kind of marketing activity, but it definitely devalues the brand. We know the quality of the product and we give the best value for our customers all year round. We know our customers appreciate that - so it’s offering that loyalty to them that we know they offer us.
That’s so true. We even spotted KSI wearing a Couture Club t-shirt design from 3-4 years ago!
*laughs* Exactly! I’d love to send KSI some new pieces actually. The difference in the quality from a few years ago is huge. But we love seeing all the older collections tagged on Instagram and TikTok; it highlights the quality and longevity of the pieces, including that timeless style.
So my next question is, how did you determine the target market for this collection?
So we've actually we’ve been doing a lot of work over the last two years to think about our audience and how we can best serve them. When I started the brand, I created clothes that I wanted to wear - and that I thought others would like too. Over the last couple of years, I feel like we lost that identity a little bit. Maybe I was still trying to appeal to my younger self *laughs*.
Now we’ve returned to the original strategy - creating pieces with those designer details and style, but with an affordable price point. I love how every element on a designer garment is considered and I wanted that to be replicated in our collections. It’s creating those high-quality pieces that last a long time, but also work well with high-end designer items.
Can you walk us through the production process of your latest collection, from concept to finished product?
So last year, we started concentrating on all the key pieces that we felt we really needed in our summer collection.
And we looked at what people went for in the nineties, hip-hop fashion, and street styles for example. When I was searching for inspiration last summer, I couldn't find the key pieces that I wanted to wear - that I knew my friends would want to wear. So we kind of built the full range from that and then whittled it down.
These key pieces for me were garments like resort sets or twin sets. Our new nylon twin sets, for example, are completely elevated from anything we’ve designed before and I haven’t seen anything else like it on the market right now.
So we built the summer collection from that and then perfected it over the last six months to get to a much smaller, exclusive range.
Inspiration for me comes from anywhere, particularly from the places I travel with my wife. And that's one thing I love is looking at how different people dress in different areas of the world. They’re starting trends without even knowing it and I love that.
Can you give me an example of somewhere that you've been maybe recently that inspired you?
Yeah of course. Ibiza for me has been a big inspiration for some of our pieces. Obviously, a lot of the looks can be quite extreme, but it’s taking those extreme elements and creating something high fashion that people can wear every day. Ibiza club style is very fashion-forward, but certainly not every day *laughs*. They look incredible, but also don’t look like they’re trying too hard! And aside from Ibiza, definitely the music scene in general.
There's also a lot of inspiration from the south of France. I spent a bit of time there last summer and it feels very high-end, very luxurious, so definitely something I wanted to emulate in this latest collection.
During the autumn/winter season, I take a lot of inspiration from South Korean fashion. Again, I feel like they're ahead of everyone else in the world when it comes to putting an outfit together and wearing truly unique pieces, especially outerwear.
That's really interesting. So, how did you decide on the materials and the fabrics for the collection? And how does this match the brand’s values?
I think I've kind of touched on that with that we’re using much higher quality materials and fabrics because the whole point is that we want them to last and have that longevity. Again, on that, we would never sacrifice the quality of the pieces, but we also still need to think about comfort.
We've been sampling some super heavy fabrics, so sometimes it's too stiff, so we’ve had to think about how can we soften the fabric? How can we find a fabric of that weight that drapes how we want it to drape?
It takes a lot of time, research, and working with our factories to help us source the right quality and weight of the fabric. We’re always looking at ways to improve our production and have some new ideas in the works. One thing I'm really proud of is our team’s approach to sampling and working as hard as possible to make the garment the best it possibly can be.
That’s awesome. So have you got a favourite piece from your most recent collection?
So I think I mentioned it before, but it’s definitely our nylon twin set. It’s a short-sleeved shirt and cargo shorts and feels the same quality as Prada or Gucci. But of course, definitely not being sold at the same price point as those designers!
For me, it’s the way it sits, the way it falls on your body, the zip details on there - just everything about it. That's definitely one of my favourite pieces. I had the sample very early on in the year when I went to Miami for New Year, so I wore it then.
That's really cool, as it’s very street-style, isn't it?
Yeah definitely, but also takes inspiration from the south of France, just combining all those elements together.
How do you ensure that the collection reflects current fashion trends, but also stays true to your brand aesthetic?
There are a lot of different things. So our team always does their research, looking at trending products and any trends that are going out of style, which gives us a good guideline.
But we really focus on what we're doing ourselves and try and put collections out there that aren’t necessarily trend-led because we want to be unique.
We’ll also update any pieces we currently have; that might be totally different fabrics or if we really like the silhouette of the product, we’ll use that for a different piece. We'll kind of incorporate that again in any best sellers and take inspiration from it. It's mainly trying to create those pieces that aren't out there, that aren't available, rather than necessarily sticking with a trend and kind of creating something that might be on the high street.
We’ll use the trend information to help advise us on colour pops for the season and things like that. And we might not necessarily do a full shirt in that colour, but we might have the branding in that colour, for example.
So it's kind of that subtle nod to the trend, but not actually jumping on the trend altogether?
Yeah definitely. I think you can almost get led sometimes, and we’ve been guilty of that in the past where you think you've got to do these exact colours that other designers have chosen that have been on all catwalk shows - but it might not fit with your brand DNA.
We want to push the customer, we want to evolve the customer and put products out there so that they can have options, but it's a fine balance between having a crazy collection with loads of different colours, and knowing what our audience wants.
In terms of measuring the success of a collection, what do you look for? Is it that it's really well received by your audience or that it's picked up by fashion publications, things like that?
For me, it's a mixture. It’s definitely determined by the community and how they react to it. So, for example, we might show a preview of a collection and if a lot of people message about one item, we already know it's going to be successful before it even drops.
Another thing for me as a marker of success is when influencers or celebrities organically wear our pieces. We've seen Molly Mae wearing one of our coats very recently. And for me, seeing someone who (what a lot of people in the industry would say) is the queen of fashion choosing that piece from our store and sharing it organically is a huge compliment.
Molly Mae is very much into her designer brands too, isn't she? She always has Louis Vuitton bags and Cartier jewellery. So that again, matches what you are trying to push.
Yes, definitely! It's that aspirational element. You might not be able to wear designer clothes every single day, so you might have a designer bag, belt, or a nice watch, and you need a wardrobe that can elevate these pieces and match their quality. So it's aligning ourselves with this audience.
So the last question is what do you hope your customers are going to take away from this collection?
I want the customers to take away that they've bought into the brand, they've bought into the community, and to be proud to wear our pieces.
This collection is all about confidence. Feeling accepted. I want people to feel part of this inclusive, but exclusive club.
The main thing for me is the customers are happy and have their part of the brand. Whether it's contacting the social media team and asking about new releases, or sharing how they’ve styled a particular piece and tagging us in it. We really want to work with the community and engage with all our customers all the time.
I love that! You want it to be available to everyone and they want to be part of it.
That’s exactly it.
Thanks so much for your time, Ross, it’s been a pleasure to speak with you.