With Christmas now over for another year, retailers are busy planning the next big event on the calendar – buying for AW22. And as we welcome in the new year, it’s time to start registering for trade shows and planning your showroom visits to maximise your new season success.
One of the destinations topping many fashion indies’ lists is FOS Fashion Marketing, which opened a new showroom space in London last June. Located opposite Gloucester Road tube station, it offers three bright and airy floors of womenswear collections. Plus, its doors are open all year round – meaning you can plan a visit around your other trips to the capital.
“We moved from the King’s Road earlier this year and our new showroom is bigger, brighter and simply stunning,” says MD Chris Foster-Orr, who first started the agency in 1999. “We’ve thought of everything to create the ultimate space that buyers can visit to create the perfect edits for their customers every season.”
Inside retailers can expect a stunning interior masterminded by Foster-Orr, who’s chosen decadent chandeliers and stripped back Scandi-style wooden floors to complement the huge windows that flood the space with natural light. There’s also a huge studio that’s home to three of its brands, with two more top secret collections due to arrive by summer. “For me it’s so important to create a fantastic space that makes the buying experience as inspiring as possible,” he says. “Boutique owners create beautiful stores for their customers to visit, so why wouldn’t they want to make their selections in an equally beautiful setting?”
Foster-Orr has been in the wholesale business for over two decades. However, he started his career as an independent retailer, with a small group of shops in Stratford-upon-Avon and Worcestershire. “I’m really able to appreciate things from the retailer’s point of view – and this has stood me in good stead over the past 22 years,” he says. “I definitely have more of a retailer’s mindset than a wholesale one and I take the opinions and needs of our customers very seriously.”
And Foster-Orr uses this approach when choosing brands he’s going to represent, too. Currently, his roster includes a range of “entry point to premium commercial brands.” These include Germany’s MAC Jeans, which he has worked with since he first set up the agency; premium knitwear label Repeat Cashmere since 2004; Milano Italy for seven years; Bianca for three years; Monari for two and Betty Barclay for 18 months.
“We will have eight brands in total next year and my vision is to become a miniature version of a fashion exhibition, where buyers can visit to browse and find inspiration whenever they’re in town,” says Foster-Orr.
Unsurprisingly, FOS Marketing attracts buyers from high calibre boutiques such as Young Ideas in Derbyshire, Anne Furbank in St Neots, Angela Beer in Stockport, Sister in Sheffield and Jenny’s Boutique in Ireland. And even during the lockdowns when buyers were unable to travel, Foster-Orr remained ever-focused on facilitating their success. “A lot of retailers reinvented themselves during the pandemic and embrace online,” he says, “which is something we became focused on too. Buying is incredibly difficult online, so I worked with our digital team to create a new virtual buying platform called Easy View. It’s so simple to use and it really helped our buyers during this difficult time. In fact, it’s been so successful that one brand is keen to roll it out internationally.”
But as any buyer worth their salt will know, there’s nothing quite like visiting a physical showroom to touch and try on next season’s pieces. And for this reason, Foster-Orr is feeling very optimistic about next year: “I can’t wait to welcome buyers to the showroom next season,” he says. “For me, there’s nothing like human interaction. We’re really looking forward to everyone coming to live appointments again and doing less online.”
Contact the FOS Fashion Marketing team directly to book an appointment.
CONTACT: Tel: 0207 584 4159 fosfashion.co.uk